Eulogy for Mum
It is such a privilege to be standing here delivering this Eulogy in commemoration of the amazing life of my Mum Therese. Unlike some other deaths in the family this really is a cause for celebrating a long and meaningful life filled with love.
I wish to thank you all for attending this funeral mass for Therese and in particular I wish to acknowledge the support of Fr.Tom McGill (A cousin of Therese) and Deacon Kenneth McGeachie (my brother) and all the clergy for conducting this mass so well. I also wish to thank all the members of the Lynch and McGeachie families for their presence and support. And thankyou to all of the family friends for coming along, including many of mums personal friends and their representatives. Mum was recently repatriated and spent a few days with Healthcare Improvement Scotland ,although I am not sure what they were hoping to achieve, eventually she was released into the care of Anderson Maguire funeral purveyors whom we also thank.
It was in 1936 that a miraculous birth occurred. Nana Lynch declared it to be so on account of her relentless praying to St Therese of Lisieux (known as the little flower of Jesus). Nana had given birth to many children and with my mum, she had the most unexpected pain free experience and so she named her new daughter Therese.
Therese was the youngest daughter and she had tremendous love for her big sisters who really were like surrogate mothers to her. And so she felt secure in the company of Anne and Mary and Irene and Betty and Patricia. We all came to know these great ladies through their married surnames; the Dalys, the Coias, the Flanagans, the O’Riellys and the Smiths. Therese also had the protection of many brothers, Sam, Willie, Pat, Phillip and Hugh. These strong Lynch men loved Therese and they would have quite literally lynched anyone who meant her harm. Surrounded by these great brothers and sisters Therese thrived in the love and happiness of a big family. And they in turn all had big families of their own and my mum would love the fact that so many of her nieces and nephews are here today along with her surviving brothers, and her sisters-in law .
Only a month ago my mum told me the story of nana Lynch in hospital being visited by her daughters; she was wondering where all the husbands were. Anne, where’s Jim; och mammy he passed away; Mary where’s Charlie ? Och mammy he moved on remember. Betty, where’,s Ben, ? Oh mammy he is not with me today. Patricia, wheres’s Jim ? Oh mammy he isn’t well and couldn’t make it . Irene where’s Jack ? Oh mammy he isn’t well either. Getting alarmed now she said Therese where’s Albert; oh mammy he passed away last year. Suffering Moses, Whit, look at yeese all yeesevé killed all your men. Don’t go blaming me now its got nothing to dae wi me.
And so mum grew up during the second world war years living in the Model in Hamilton, which was a lodging house for down and outs that was managed by her Father Pat Lynch who had served his country with great honour and who survived the first and second battle of the Somme and also the battle of Paschendale (Ypres). And he was present in Europe on Armistace Day the 11th hour/of the 11th day/ of the 11 th month when the first world war ended. Pat was wounded twice in that war and he was lucky to survive and have any children at all. Many of us here today are only here because Pat Lynch was able to tourniquet his leg to avoid bleeding to death overnight in no man’s land after being gunned down. Never forget that. And he was finally rescued hours from death by a man wearing a turban from the Sikh battalions of the British Indian Army; we shouldn’t forget that either. Yes, He was a heroic man who my mum often talked about as a gentle giant of a father who would have to have a few drinks before he could kill a chicken for Christmas; yet he was able to run into a burning building to save people who would otherwise have died. My mum understandably, was very proud of her dad.
Living as a young girl in the model lodging house and being in her own words “As wild as the heather” Therese lived the life of a tomboy with her younger brothers and uncle Pat; the original gang of four although I reckon the other brothers and sisters joined in when they could. Life for this crew involved roaming around the countryside and turning large coal stacks into sliding chutes using shovels as the sledges. I am sure they all sang happily as they played; not aware they were now the original black and white minstrels all members of the tie roon the heid gang. I am sure that gang will resurface tonight, new members are welcome. But mum didn’t remain a tomboy for long. It dawned on her that she was becoming popular with the boys on account of her natural beauty and charm; and so she found the lure of St Brides Catholic dances more appealing than school books. She told me a few weeks ago that the priests used to patrol the entrance to the dance hall to make sure only Catholics were allowed entry; and if they hadn’t seen you at mass they would ask you to recite the Our Father and Hail Mary and if you couldn’t do it you wouldn’t get in. How times have changed. But I did wonder how many non-catholics must have learned those prayers just so they could get into a dance hall. Mum was only interested in the glamour of it all and so she taught a few boys she liked the opening lines of a few prayers so they could get in.
As they grew up my mum and her sisters were confronted by the reality that boys walking them home at night would have to pass by all the drunks and down and outs at the Model and they were very embarrassed. So, they found ways of sneaking round the back entrance; on one such occasion mum’s sister Betty and her new beau were accosted by a crowd of rampant dogs chasing after a poor we dog that had just come into heat. They decided after that that it was much easier to use the front door.
One year my mum took as on a trip to Lourdes and showed us the spot where my dad proposed to her and she accepted. Albert, my father, was a clever and talented man who met my mum at St Brides Hall Motherwell; it should really have been called Brides and Grooms Hall when you think of it. Surprise Surprise; he was too shy to show how interested he was and she was too shy and modest to show any interest in him; although she was interested. So after a few weeks of him calling her on the phone he thought he could make a move but, you see my mum was a very beautiful woman and my dad felt she was too glamorous for him and he would look stupid walking across to speak to her (this is a long way in the past before mobile phones, chatrooms and instagrams). So my mum decided to show the initiative and she collected some charity raffle tickets and went round selling them at the dance hall; but when she got to Albert she deliberately dropped them so he would have an opportunity to help her. Which he took full advantage of; which in those days meant organising a date. Not long after they married, my mum was left to babysit her younger brothers Phil and Hugh, who needed their dinners cooked for them while Nana and Grampa Lynch were away. My Dad Albert complained that these two big lumps in their twenties were too old for that and they were stopping him from having his dinner cooked for him at his home. Again, how times have changed. So, to get even, when mum was at the shops, the two brothers encouraged a down and out Lady from the Model ,who had terrible table manners, to knock the door and they told Albert that this was My mums Great Aunt. So my dad got the best China out and set out a table of sandwiches and biscuits. When my Mum got home she was roaring and laughing at all the mess on the floor and the broken China. My Dad was relieved it was just a joke; he was beginning to wonder what kind of family he had married into.
When my mum passed away peacefully in Australia a few weeks ago I started to reflect on the fact that Luckily, she told me many stories about her life in the 5 weeks she was with us; its almost as if she was dictating her own eulogy. And, because we surrounded her bedside and prayed the rosary, as well as singing songs which she tried to join in with, I thought the rosary would be a good theme for this eulogy. Because all the emotions were packed into mums life; the sorrowful, the joyful and the glorious. I’ll get the sorrowful out of the way first (you might want to ger your hankies out).
If any of you have ever wondered why there is such a big age gap between me and Kenny when my mum had all her children in quick succession. Well, the answer is she had a daughter Catherine who we called Kitty. Now sadly she died at a young age and in those days it was called a cot death. She was a beautiful happy child and it was a shocking loss for all of us. But, the shock was so great that My mums father couldn’t cope with his grief and he died almost immediately afterwards. So, now there were two tragic deaths in the family and to cap it all my mum was pregnant and she suffered a miscarriage. So, as a toddler I found myself in the bedroom alone with my mum and she told me she was lying on her bed with tears streaming down her face praying for some sign that life was still worth living. At that point she said that I as a young toddler started to wipe away her tears. Can you think of a more sorrowful yet hopeful image ?
The sorrow in my mum’s life was compounded when my Dad died suddenly at the age of 51 from a Heart Attack. ( Of course some of you long suffering housewives might look at your husband beside you and say “I would be putting that in the joyful column”) Anyway, it was sorrowful for my mum and she visibly aged for a while and had to walk with the support of a stick. She always wore her emotions on her sleeve. How she was able to rebuild a new life without Albert has always amazed me, and it had I think to do with with her understanding that it was her responsibility to support others in a selfless way.
Then only a few years ago my mum endured the tragic death of my brother Francis. It is still quite raw and fresh in our minds and the pain resurfaces at this time. My mum told me she was heart broken and indeed she was convinced that she was suffering from a medical condition doctors called a broken heart that had been brought about by this sudden shock. She had to have an operation to replace her aortic valve which is part of the major artery connected to the heart. Before the operation she had been breathless and exhausted and traumatised and in emotional anguish from it all.
Of course, as the youngest daughter she inevitably had to witness the passing of her mother and older sisters and brothers. All of these were sad occasions for mum tempered only by the fact that in most cases, but not all, these great souls had lived a long and happy life.
Mum had many glorious memories to recount when she visited us in Australia. She reminisced about the weddings of her own children and how happy she was with the partners that we all were lucky to marry. And she remarked that it was unusual these days for marriages to last and she prayed hard that our marriages would stand the test of time.
She was a glorious example of a person who waltzed her way through life dealing with a host of medical problems that would have derailed most people; but not Therese, she would offer up her sufferings just like St Therese and she would bear them willingly; as it must have been gods will.
She was a deeply spiritual person who had a great love of the blessed trinity and a firm belief in the good deeds that could be done with the help of the Holy Spirit. If there was a problem in someone’s life then her solution would always involve praying to the Holy Spirit. She told me that she could detect an aura around people and she would often forget a persons name when first introduced because she was so engrossed in trying to interpret their aura. This is not a common skill; but she had that level of spirituality. She told me it held her back sometimes, particularly at job interviews. But, it made her a good judge of character; if you were a friend of Therese’ then you must have been a good person.
She was Glorious in her Faith; she brought us all up to live good lives and to respect the sacraments. Yet, she also moved with the times; she would often quote Pope Francis when discussing complicated social matters “ Who are we to judge ? “she would say. And yet she had an opinion on everything; but always with a positive and humorous outlook. “ Aw Aye “ She would say “ A skittery coo always wants a neighbour”.
Actually, neighbours were very important to mum. She made many lasting friends from people that used to live on the same street or who occupied the same residence. Names that always came up in conversation were the Mrs Savages, Mrs McMillans Mrs Friars and many others who are represented here today; and most welcome you all are. Oh, and She loved a wee bit of gossip, “ Billy you’ll never believe what happened to so and so “. Of course, I just loved hearing these funny stories.
My mum also had special friends that dated back to her schooldays and early days of marriage. My Godmother and my mum’s bridesmaid the late Mary McSloy, the Mooneys. And of course my mums companions on her journeys the Foxes and the Oats’s. We grew up with these families sharing amazing caravanning holidays in France and Spain. She was very close to Rina and John Oates and the late Matt and Jane Fox. These friends of mums were our surrogate aunts and uncles and all their children were our surrogate cousins. What glorious memories we generated. I can just about remember the Sangria Party where Mum mixed up the childrens fruity sangria with the adults champagne mixture; Francis almost got alcohol poisoning at the age of 7.
The stories just kept coming; how her mum and dad met over a piano that was bought by her aunt Kate(who emigrated to Australia). The crafty aunt asked some passing policemen if they knew a piano player to help see if it was in tune and they recommended Pat Lynch who was a policeman. Nana and her sisters were told to get their best clothes on as some handsome young policemen were coming for tea. And the rest is history. My mum did learn to play the piano; she was taught by her Uncle Ronald who was a professor of Music and a pupil of Franz Liszt the Hungarian composer. Music it seems was in her blood as was dance; and she loved to dance. She told me all about the cousin who danced at the Folie Bergere in Paris and ran off with a rich man called Rosthchild. If there are any Rosthchilds here by the way, please introduce yourself later. She was also very imaginative my mum.
I am certain my mum was a glorious member of the community here in Bishopbriggs, who thrived on the company of others. She would have many friends and acquaintances in the local Parishes of St Matthews and St Dominics and also many friends and companions from other faiths and denominations. Once again we are all very grateful for your company and support.
My mum was the epitome of a joyful and merry person. She laughed like Santa Clause on steroids and everyone loved to join in with the fun she was able to generate. She had a wonderful enthusiasm for life and entertainment.
Her Husband and children brought joy to her life and she was in turn a loving wife and devoted mother.
Therese tells of the time Mum got a computer , she was using the internet for the first time and she phoned Therese’ son Patrick and our Kenny, because a whole load of images of inappropriately dressed men appeared on the screen from Pyjamas R Us. Com. They had to rush round and fix the problem before Ethna or Moira came over because they would never have seen such things and they would think my mum had done it deliberately.
Louise tells a story about a snorkelling trip in Egypt where mum decided she couldn’t get down the steps of the boat and so she just jumped overboard without telling anyone and the boat kept on going. She had no thought about how she would get back into the boat; she had to be hauled in using ropes and floats like an escaped convict; she became the main event for all the snorkellers.
Mum loved her travel adventures with her family and friends. She even managed to fit in 4 overseas trips this year, Spain, Ireland, Lourdes and Australia. She had a favourite place in my garden in Brisbane where she liked to sit and watch the colourful birds coming to feed on the grevillea bushes and she relaxed gazing over the tops of the eucalyptus trees; made all the more relaxing for her by the frequent Gin and Tonics and the company of her grandchildren and great grandchildren.
On one occasion a few years ago she noticed a stuffed snake curled around a bird cage with a small budgie in it. And she said; Haw Our Billy surely you didn’t think I would fall for that trick; take that silly toy away from that poor we bird. Then she saw it move, and it uncurled itself and it was 6 feet long if it was an inch and it was as thick as pint pot. It was a carpet python, which are quite common in Brisbane and absolutely harmless; but to her it was deadly and she turned white. After a few Gin and Tonics to calm her down she said; I hope it cant get into my bedroom can it ? Why do they call it a carpet python ? Don’t tell me they live in carpets? You’ll need to get rid of it.
Deacon Kenny told me of the times when mum used to make the Sunday dinner on a Saturday afternoon; to save time. And how he and his pal Tony would go out on Saturday night and come home, the worse for a few pints and a few drams, and eat between the two of them the whole Sunday Dinner. Kenny said that Mum loved and hated this in equal measure. She loved to see people enjoying the food she cooked; even when she had to do it twice.
The other great source of lasting joy for mum was her grandchildren. How she loved to mingle with them and conspire with them so they could all get up to mischief together. They in turn all loved their Gran and made her the focal point of their lives whenever she visited them. And she encouraged them all to make wise decisions and to work hard at school, university or whatever career pathway they chose to follow. Her love and prayers always went with her grandchildren whatever they did, wherever they went ,and whoever they chose to be with. And I am sure that that love will continue to shine on for them and support them in their lives as they grow up.
When mum reached her eighties she became a Great Grandmother and how she loved these new babies and weans. She met and spent time with all three of her Great Grandchildren before she passed away, one of whom she only met a few weeks ago. Little Zara, of whom she said “Her eyes are dancing in her head”. Her fourth Great Grandchild is due any day now, which is why her granddaughter Alison couldn’t be here today with the rest of her Grandchildren. But know this all you Grandchildren who are here, she loved all of you and although you will miss her she will protect you and take care of you and intercede for you; for surely she is a Saint in Heaven so just pray your good prayers and live a good life that will honour the memory of your Granny.
And so mum you recently embarked on your last but most luminous journey. You followed the light and made your way to your heaven.
Maybe it reminded you of journeys you used to make with your brothers and sisters to your Fathers relatives near Strathavon (Straven) in the hamlet of Tillietudlem. Or maybe it reminded you of those journeys you made with your children and grandchildren to beauty spots and havens, Like San Pedro pescadore or Calpe or Lanzarotte or Stradbroke Island or Lourdes or Milport . I am sure you would make your journey idiosyncratic and unique, just like you conjured up a new name for Tillietudelem and called it Tiddlytudlem. That rhymed better with the railway wheels running along the track; tiddlytudelem,tiddlytudelem. What rhyme or song did you sing on your way ? And hopefully you are still singing and dancing in the company of Albert, Kitty, Francis, and your lovely brothers and sisters and your in -laws and Mammy Maw and your other grandparents and your mum and dad and all your friends.
For, you were a giant in our lives. A charismatic and spiritual wonder who lit up every room you ever entered. And you enlightened us with your passion for simplicity and honesty and joy. “Let Joy be unconfined” you would say to echoe your mother and brothers and sisters.You had your angel cards and you sang about rows and bows of angel hair. And now surely you are complete again in the company of the angels. Heaven just became a little brighter.
Everyone here misses you enormously but also thanks you for being the luminous, glorious and Joyful person we all knew and loved.
God Bless and Goodbye Sweet Mum
Eulogy for Mum