Mum's Eulogy

MUM’S EULOGY....FUNERAL VERSION....23 MARCH 2016 (edited from MY STORY book)

Thank you all for coming....sorry Tim couldnt make it, for a variety of reasons, but I know he is with us in spirit just now, during this hour!

Our Mum was a unique lady, where the most important people in her life has been her immediate family. We are the beneficiaries of that devotion. She was not physical in her expression of love but it was shown in many other ways.

Her great interests in our early days were her hens, goose Sally, Grouse the dog, Dinky cat & Dot the female cat, producing ca 120 kittens in her lifetime!! Mum loved wild life and the countryside, and during her life time in Clare had many bird friends, was protective of all birds and their nests, stray cats and a few stray dogs, one of whom I had a great affinity to, Rex, who died about a year after coming to us. Caring for sick & injured birds were also part of her life. Then there were the family dogs: Grouse, Dusty, Shep & Ben, Tiny & Russ….the popular walks around Lough Fea and “over the hills”. She loved her bike shopping trips into town……….in the early days parking her bike at the Milk Bar, near the end of Molesworth St.

She was an intelligent woman reading newspapers, not just a daily but the week enders, the Sunday supplements which Yvonne would bring home. That kept Mum reading the following week. She was fully tuned into world affairs and formed her own opinions in certain worldly situations. Favourite TV programmes include “The Last of the Summer Wine”, Keeping up Appearances” with Hyacinth & Richard….and nature programmes with David Attenborough etc

She did not like religious bigotry nor extreme views, but maintained her own simple Christian faith. She would always advise Yvonne and me never to judge anyone…..that people have the right to believe what they themselves choose.  A woman of high integrity which she has passed on to Yvonne, myself and her 4 grandsons.

Her life was certainly not as eventful as Dad’s. It was much quieter, however filled with many different events, some sad, some happy!  A very difficult chapter in their combined life was my polio illness in 1953…. and my rehab in the years following. Without Mum’s help and sacrifice I would not have enjoyed the full life I have to day. Dad played his part too….repairing calipers that I would break whist playing and climbing those forbidden trees!

Mum was born Jan 27 1923 in Gortagilly, between Moneymore & magherafelt, and was christened Thelma Higginson Coulter. Daughter of James Coulter and May Coulter (nee Higginson) and eldest sister of the late Bobby, George (Geordie) and Mary Armstrong.

Mum attended Drapersfield Primary School until approx. 1937. One of her teachers Miss Patton was also one of my early teachers at Drapersfield PS. During her later years at school she had an American pen pal, where many interesting letters were exchanged, some of the American letters we have been privileged to read.

Mum and Dad met in 1941 at Clare Bridge…..”did he let you down?” was Dad’s smart line as she walked out of town towards Tyresson. Don’t know her response but she allowed him to walk her to the Tyresson gate….the beginning of a 6 year romance.

They married and I was born in June 1947.

For the first period of time after marriage they lived in with Granny/Granda A at Clare Bridge, in a room in the little loft space upstairs.

They then moved to Coltrim, Moneymore within a few months of marriage. They had a happy life in Coltrim with good neighbours, Brendan & Joyce Devlin and the other Devlin families. The Devlins became life long friends and that link still exists to day....we have evidence of that to day!

Yvonne arrived in March 1951 and shortly after the family moved to Clare.

Here Mum & Dad established a secure home for us. We have many memories, mostly good at Clare, which we have had until Feb 2013, when the property was sold to Cookstown Caravans Ltd.

Mum was a housewife and mother and took her responsibility seriously…...the period of years she spent rehabilating me and looking after Yvonne put a lot of mental and emotional strain on her. I can always remember her being in control.

About once a week Mum would say to Dad ”Im going down to Ty for a while”. Ty being short for the home farm of Tyresson.....500-600 metres away. Yvonne and I twigged on quite quickly, and occasionally we would be allowed to go with her. Mum always showed allegience to Granny Coulter and Aunt Mary and helped Granny after Aunt Mary married.

It was through Granny C that "wee John, the egg man" became part of a Tuesday happening he would call at our home for eggs that Mum had collected and cleaned from her own hens. For these eggs she got paid from Dobsons of the Moy.

Other callers at our home were the breadmen, Geordie McGarry/Eric Kelly, Inglis, Tuesdays.... Martin Hegarty, Irwins, Thursdays.... Uncle Sandy, McWatters, Fridays. Mr Glendinning and Norman Carmichael, Insurance men, were also callers on a regular basis.

She loved her trips into Cookstown on the bike. In early days, ie the 1950/60's, she would ride the bike to the Milk Bar, a Café, at the end of Moleworth St. There she would park the bike and walk the town. In later years she changed bikes from the old 1940's model to a newer "blue" bike. (both bikes are now in Karlskoga!). On this blue machine she installed an extending reflector, mounted on the rear frame. This was to protect her cycling space, to "encourage" motorists to take a wide berth! She would get a few "toots" as motorists passed her. This was brought from Sweden in the late 1970's and was the only one of its kind in Cookstown (perhaps NIreland) at that time!?

As mentioned earlier, Mum always had hens in our "hen pen". Around 15-20!. These had to be replenished every year or so. The old ones would die, or had to be put down (Dad). I got the burial job! In the early Spring Mum would head off on her bicycle and a box on the carrier. After a few hours she would arrive back with some newly hatched chicks, either from Tyresson or some other contact. Usually a day or two old. She would then nurture and look after them until they became smart laying hens with fresh daily eggs.

Then there was Sally the goose. She lived in the "Goose house". Located beside the pen where the dogs were kept. The dog pen didn't exist in Sally's day. Sally had a white gander (male goose) for a few years. Eggs were laid and goslings were born. 

Dogs were a big part of both Mum/Dad's life. Dusty, the first of the small dogs (actually the second....the first Dusty died as a young dog) was a favourite. He followed Mum everywhere....he would lie on the mat outside the bathroom door waiting for her. There was a special feeding ritual in the evenings, especially when the second dog came, Shep. The dogs would be aggressive towards each other as they waited for their food to be served. This would have been encouraged somewhat by Dad. He enjoyed seeing them snarling at each other! Walking the dogs around Lough Fea on a nice summers Sunday afternoon was also a highlight for Mum. 

Our summer visits from Sweden and the horsey tales (tails!!)....a few days into our stay in the summer Mum would come with an envelope and very quietly and shyly hand it to Liz, with the words something like...."here's the tail of a wee horse!!” At the beginning Liz was embarrassed and didn't want to take it, but Mum would quickly respond by saying "don't ever say no to money!"

Another of the highlights of our summer visits, when the boys were younger, was the phenomena of Granny lighting the range/stove in the mornings. The procedure was quite long. Ashes had to be taken out and dumped in the hen pen. A clean up was then needed, then the fire was set with paper, sticks and coal. After lighting, the boys would run out of the kitchen to outside, to observe the smoke rising from the chimney!

Then there were the robin red breasts!.....probably Mum's favourite bird. There were always robin families in our garden and off course there were "robin wars". For a period, a robin and Mum got very close and the wee bird would eat cheese out of her hand. This we witnessed some summers during the 1980's....a sight to behold.

Camera's.....Mum had four or five cameras! During the summer visits each camera was used. It was a "pantomine" when photos were taken! All cameras were used and it usually took about 10 minutes for each pose. Many of these old photographs we have in Karlskoga to day. Many of them are part of the boys 40 year old albums. Some are also included in this book.

Part of Dad's work at the Public Health was to collect water samples and deliver them to a Lab in Belfast. This was a Tuesday run and most of the time Mum would accompany him. A"day out" was their normal description. Dad would drop Mum off, at a certain place in Belfast telling/advising her that he'd be back at a certain time. However most of the time Mum was late back much to father's irritation, I would guess. She loved these outings and it gave her a lot. That stopped when Dad became a pensioner....however she would still get a few days out when cars had to be delivered or collected for Sam Bell, Car Sales & Rentals, Cookstown.

When Dad saw eggs being boiled in the evening and the weather forecast was good for the next day, he knew that she was going to suggest a run to Portrush, Ballymena, Portadown or somewhere in the north! So he was prepared....next morning Mum would suggest going "for a wee run to ....." Egg sandwiches and flasks of hot water would be prepared for the outing! During these runs, which Yvonne and I (when I was home from Sweden) would occasionally accompany them, Mum would say "Sammie , don't drive so fast, I want to see the countryside!!" He may have been doing around 80kph (50mph). She loved seeing the countryside.

(I missed out this paragraph during the Eulogy, a simple miss!) Another distinct memory I have is of Mum preparing our dinner, when Yvonne & I were children. Each day was the same routine....around 11 o clock, after fire lighting, she would fill a bucket with spuds (potatoes) required and standing outside the back door she would "pound" them with a long pole, which had a rounded end....about 6-7 cms in diameter. This would remove surplus soil and was her spud cleaning procedure. Then into the kitchen, in front of the warm range, she would sit and peel, with an ordinary knife.

We know that when we left N Ireland for Sweden in 1973, it broke Mum and Dads heart. We also had heavy hearts during our early days in Sweden, thinking about them. Then the second departure from Bridgwater, returning to Sweden in 1982 was yet another difficult period.

Travelling to the homeland in the summers led to a special bond between Mum/Dad/Yvonne and our boys, inspite of the intensity and tiredness that was associated with these stays. During these summers the boys young lives were nurtured in a very special way by Mum, Dad and Yvonne....a special bond was established. Mum would "slip a bob or two" into the boys hand for spending money, on the condition not to tell Granda. Off course the same happened from Dad/Granda....so the boys never had problems with "spending money". Yvonne also gave "a wheen a bob" as well!

In latter years Mum's health deteriorated, from 2003 and onwards. 2005 she became a resident of Westlands Care Home and her final few years were spent in Moneymore Care Home. To these Homes we extend our gratitude and thanks for the great care given, and especially Moneymore for the support Yvonne got in Mums final hours.

I don't really know how Mum felt about our life in Sweden, but I do know that she was happy that we were safe and secure in our adopted homeland.... and that she was proud of her grandsons. They too are proud grandsons and will never forget their Granny and Granda Allen.....farmor och farfar! The great grandchildren too have a special connection to ”old” Granny & Granda....not forgetting the 2 gt gt grandchildren! //Oct 2016

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