Monday, December 19, 2011

Goodbye...

Playlist
Herbie Hancock – Fat Albert rotunda
Herbie Hancock - Crossings
Herbie Hancock - Mwandishi
King Crimson – Red
Albinoni – Oboe Concerti
Various – Music for Pam

Up at 4:30 – as usual, couldn’t sleep once I awoke...

Enjoyed the jazz fusion musings of Herbie H in the back room with Meg the Black Cat...

Knackered...

Back to bed at 6am for a couple of hours and did manage a bit more shut eye...

Porridge for breakfast and then, some last minute changes to the Eulogy and burning some CDs of this afternoon’s music, re keepsakes for Pam’s chums...

Loads of texts on how people were fairing on getting here – many more coming from down South than previously expected, most flying but some had driven up yesterday...

A couple of Pam’s chums flying in from Sweden and one from Ireland...

“Starless” by King Crimson was our exit music as we took the car to the crematorium in preparation for possibly having to give lifts to people wishing to head to the post service gathering in nearby Roslin...

Sheila and Andrew met with us and took us back to mum’s, where we were joined by their sons Andy and Alastair...

At 1:30, right on time, the hearse and car drove into the street and we were taken, at a snail’s pace, back to the crematorium...

A very big turnout indeed – we were advised by the Funeral Director afterwards, that, once 150 people were in, they had to move the screens at the back of their estimated seating area to allow a further 70 attendees...

The music I’d prepared for the entrance, two soundscapes from the next CBQ album, were eminently suitable in their sombreness...

Once everyone was in, the coffin was brought to the front of the chapel and placed under the red cover – our three floral tributes, one from mum, one from me and Sheila and Andrew and Anne, one from Pam’s nephews and grand-nephew, were all beautiful...

An introduction from the minister, then, “Morning Has Broken”, taken at quite a pace by the organist but that kept things upbeat...

A reading, some words on Pam from the minister and a prayer, then it was time for the Eulogy...

Once I got through the first few paragraphs, I thought it was going to be okay...

I’d read it enough times to know it almost inside out...

I think I struck the right balance between seriousness and jocularity – I managed to raise a few laughs and no doubt elicited a few tears too...

But, when spontaneous applause broke out at the end, it hit me and I broke – luckily I was almost back at my seat...

Another prayer and the committal, then into “Thine Be The Glory” followed by a closing prayer and the announcement re the post service get together and an appeal for people to give lifts...

And that was it – we walked to the door to the sound of “Yesterday” by The Beatles – Pam loved Paul McCartney...

It took around 20 minutes for everyone to exit past us – there were more laughs and more tears and lots of familiar faces from the past – most looking that bit older, some almost unchanged...

The voluntary donations to the Marie Curie Hospice raised a magnificent total...

Out to Roslin in the big black car, with mum and nephew Andy, to find the room we’d booked already full to overflowing – a further room was quickly opened up and more provisions were provided...

A favourite party CD of Pam’s was applied to the sound system (“strange music for a funeral” the proprietor opined at the end of the afternoon – “That’s what Pam would’ve wanted” I replied)....

The majority of the English-based attendees left just after 4 for their 6 o’clock flight, the driving group shortly thereafter (a nine hour drive home)...

Brother–in-Law Andrew and I took four ladies each to the airport for five thirty/six re their eight o’clock flight..

My four were four of the five Hemel musketeers, Suzanne, Michelle, Julie and Debbie...



Back to Loanhead and chatting with mum, Sheila and Anne – we all agreed it had been a good, if sad, day...

We were amazed at the turnout, when we ought really not to have been considering Pam’s popularity...

And home to normality, kind of...

Highlight of the Day : A great send off for my brave wee sister...



THE EULOGY

I

“First things first....

No-one ever said life would be fair.

And we’re here today because, frankly, life isn’t fair.

Pam knew this only too well but what was her reaction?

She just said “whatever will be, will be” and then she got on with it.

II

So how do you sum up someone’s life in just a few minutes?

Well I can sum up Pam’s life in a few words.

Pam loved life. She loved people. She loved her family. She loved her friends. She loved their kids. And she loved her colleagues.

She was full of life and she was full of love and her great big loving smile is how we’ll remember her.

III

Pam was born in 1963, at home, in Paisley, on her grandmother’s birthday, the 13th of June.

I recall she had a good head of hair at birth – quite unlike a Reilly.

Our sister Sheila’s first memory of Pam is of her, aged around two, in the middle of the living room floor, dancing to the song “Tears” by Ken Dodd.

As you’ll hopefully be able to tell from the music we play as you leave here today, Pam’s taste improved over time.

IV

As children, Pam, Sheila and I were very close.

And, with our Dad often only at home at weekends due to his work, we did our best to help our mum out.

Well Sheila did anyway but, as for Pam and I, I think I have to admit we led our mum a merry dance with our nonsense.

I can remember one time running around the house with Pam up on my shoulders and she was laughing so much she pee-ed down the back of my neck.

Twenty seven she was.

I think at the time she also had a broken wrist - no doubt the result of some other adventure we’d undertaken - which made it all the more daft to have her up on my shoulders

But that was Pam to a T.

She was always one to brush off a setback and just get on with life.

V

Even over the last few weeks, she would always manage a smile and a laugh - she never, ever lost that fantastic sense of humour for which she was so loved by everyone.

And if she were sitting amongst us here today and saw me crying like a baby, she’d probably make me laugh with a joke or a funny comment or one of her accidentally made up words, or some inappropriate wind.

More than anything, it was Pam’s amazing sense of humour which got us through so many of the lows of the last year.

VI

We moved to Loanhead in 1966 and Pam started school there a couple of years later, where she met her oldest friend, Liz.

Now, I know our mum would never forgive me if I left out this next bit.

You see, mum has always been very proud of Pam’s two appearances, that’s two appearances, in the Loanhead Children’s Gala Day – firstly in 1970 when both she and Liz were trainbearers and then, in 1975, when Pam was crowned Queen of Loanhead.

I don’t know if I’ll ever convince my mum though, that it’s not the same as being the real Queen.

VII

As teenagers, Pam and I were on the same wavelength

We both enjoyed music and Pam, having gotten over her love of Ken Dodd, would help me organise summer holiday gigs in our house for all the kids in the neighbourhood, where we’d mime to the hits of the day using home made stringless guitars, roughly nailed together from discarded pieces of wood.

When I progressed to being able to play real instruments, Pam was a frequent attendee of my bands’ gigs and after-gig parties, where she’d stay up all night bopping with the boys – but still be ready to pop to the shop in the morning - for rolls, and bacon and eggs.

We never took life too seriously and we carried that outlook into adulthood.

VIII

From the early eighties onwards though, we spent most of our lives apart.

Indeed, there are many people here today who knew Pam a lot better than I did after 1982, when she announced she was heading to Hemel Hempstead to follow her heart.

Suffice to say, she had a great time for the next thirty years

She made lots of new friends, many of whom like Debs, Suzanne, Julie, Michelle and Lesley, have been towers of strength to Pam over this last year.

IX

When Pam moved down South she obtained a transfer with her then employer, Lloyds TSB, to their Westminster Branch, hob knobbing with the rich and famous but, typically, unphased.

Indeed, whenever Anne and I visited Pam, she would look at us incredulously when we expressed a wish to go “up London” – as if there could possibly be anything there of any interest whatsoever, compared with Hemel Hempstead.

X

Pam eventually managed to transfer to her adopted hometown, before leaving the bank and joining the tool and plant company deSoutter, moving to their glamorous sounding Chicago Pneumatics division, to work in credit control.

As far as I’m aware, she never actually went to Chicago but she did end up at Atlas Copco, where, until last December, she worked with a wonderful group of people, in Hemel and around the world, many of whom I have gotten to know over the last 12 months through keeping them up to date with what was happening in Pam’s world

Colleagues like Vipool, Anna, Maggie and Lou. Pat, Helena, Clive and Stuart. Eileen, Ruth, Paul and Joanna – the list is almost endless.

XI

But Pam also never forgot her family, friends and neighbours back here in Scotland – old school chums like Liz and Janice, old neighbours like Janette, Debbie, Suzanne and Diane and Ian; and old music chums, with whom she once danced the night away, George and Paul – all frequent visitors to Pam over these last few weeks.

XII

On this very Monday last year, the four Reilly’s made a hair-raising car journey through the ice and snow from Hemel back to Edinburgh, so Pam could spend Christmas at her old home with her family. She’d just had her first operation and our hopes were high.

She really threw herself into the festivities, cooking dinner at our mum’s on Christmas day.

And she surprised everyone by enjoying at least two helpings of everything at the Boxing Day meal at Anne’s sister’s.

Pam tried to blame the steroids but I’m not so sure.

XIII

She really seemed to sail through her treatment, apart from, on her very first day of chemo, throwing up all over the hospital transport bus – including a couple of blind passengers who, quite literally, must have wondered what had hit them.

And she lost her hair and became a true Reilly at last.

XIV

It’s to her credit that Pam wanted her life to be as normal as possible and so she was delighted to be able to return to her job this summer, despite still undergoing treatment for her illness.

She particularly enjoyed the Company Summer Barbecue and it was as if she’d never been away. Her colleagues wondered where all the booze had gone, till they remembered Pam was back.

XV

Right till the end, Pam knew how to party.

Just a couple of days before going into hospital for what turned out to be the final time, she was up late drinking and carousing with Liz and Janice, just like the old days.

She had a great social life with all her many friends, in Hemel and beyond and she brought sunshine into the lives of everyone she got to know.

And she baked a mean apple pie.

XVI

Above all, Pam cared for people - so many of whom have repaid that love with their presence here today and many of whom, I know, are thinking of Pam right now in far off places around the world, in her adopted England, in Ireland, in Sweden, in America, in the Middle East - because circumstances would not allow them to attend today.

XVII

So there we have it – Pam’s life – condensed into just a few short minutes - a life filled with love, laughter and good deeds.

And I’m sure you’ll all have your own special memories of my wee sister that you’ll never forget.

We have lost a huge personality who was loved by so many people, old and young alike.

XVIII

So thank you everyone for coming here today to help celebrate Pam’s life with us.

And thank you Pam, for all the laughs and all the good times and all the love you have given us over your far, far, too short life.

But your light has not gone out. We will keep it burning, in our memories and in our hearts.

Thank you”


THE MUSIC

ENTRANCE
Cloudland Blue Quartet
The Ship That Sailed (Pt 1)
On the morning after Pam had been admitted to the Western General, I awoke to the sound of a beautiful piece of classical music on my player. On checking, I found it was the Prelude from Wagner’s opera “Lohengrin”. Over the next couple of days, I set about creating a soundscape based around samples of some of the chords used in the original, removing all of the more raucous parts. The finished piece reflects my mood at knowing Pam had more than likely entered the final phase of her fight.

Cloudland Blue Quartet
Knowing This Day Would Come Did Not Prepare Me For Its Coming
Seven weeks later, the call came to say Pam had slipped away. Just after 4 am and unable to sleep but deeming it still too early to give the sad news to my mum or my sister, I sat alone and listened to some of Schumann’s piano music. Later that day, having spoken with so many of Pam’s friends, I was drawn again to the music and created this short piece based around one of the works which had helped console me in the early morning...

HYMNS
Morning Has Broken
Chosen because my mum believes Pam must’ve liked it, as she chose it for her wedding in 1985...

Thine Be The Glory
Chosen as it was sung at our Dad’s funeral in 2003...

EXIT
The Beatles
Yesterday
Along with Donny Osmond (of course), Paul McCartney was one of Pam’s first big loves in music. During the summer holidays in the seventies, Pam and I used to invite all the other children in our street to concerts in our house, mostly miming to the hits of the day but later we progressed to playing a few Beatles songs in the back garden and this was one of them...

Pet Shop Boys
Being Boring
Whenever Pam was in our car, if the Pet Shop Boys came on the sound system, she would express her delight and immediately start singing along – which wasn’t always for the best! The lyrics to this particular song sum Pam’s attitude to life up perfectly – never be boring and, no matter what happens, get up and keep going...

The Tubes
Love’s A Mystery (I Don’t Understand)
Since the mid seventies, Pam and I have been fans of this now little remembered band from San Francisco, famous at the time for their wild stage shows. Often when Pam and I would meet over the years, the Tubes video would be dug out and watched again (even though we’d seen it hundreds of times). This was always one of Pam’s favourite Tubes songs – she was a sucker for an epic ballad...

Roxy Music
Tara
Another of Pam’s favourite groups was Roxy Music and I thought long and hard about which of their tracks to include. In the end I went for this, the last piece from their final album. A fitting adieu...

Cloudland Blue Quartet
Human
When Pam came back to Scotland to stay with our mum in September, I had a gig lined up and, especially for Pam, had learned this song by one of her favourite groups, The Killers. When the day of the gig arrived, Pam advised she wouldn’t be coming, preferring instead a night out with much eating, drinking and carousing. It turns out she made the right choice as, when I arrived at the venue in the evening, the gig had been cancelled. So she never got to hear this...

Elvis Presley
The Wonder of You
On arriving for her visit at the end of August to celebrate our mum’s birthday, I picked Pam up from the airport and took her back to my house. We had an hour or so to spare and decided to have a wee sing song to some cover versions I was attempting to learn. This had always been a favourite of ours and our duet on it, complete with big backing vocals, was rousing indeed - although the neighbours may not have appreciated our efforts...

The Carpenters
Only Yesterday
While I was living with Pam at her home in Hemel Hempstead, we would often just sit relaxing in her living room listening to her music. She had a wee MP3 player which she would set to shuffleplay so we’d never know what was going to come on next. However, there seemed to be quite a lot of Carpenters songs on there and so I’ve chosen this one for today...

Steve Harley & Cockney Rebel
Make Me Smile (Come Up and See Me)
Pam and I attended a few gigs together in the years before she moved to England and one of the most memorable was Steve Harley’s in 1976. But our seats were right at the very back of the balcony of the Edinburgh Playhouse and, to make matters worse, our listening pleasure was continually interrupted by a young girl, obviously in love with Mr Harley, who spent the entire concert wailing “Steeeeeve!” from the darkness. From then on, we usually referred to the Cockney Rebel as “Steeeeeve!”...

Laura Pausini
Bellissimo Cosi' (So Beautiful Like This)
Virtually unknown in the UK, over the past few years, Pam had come to love the music of Laura Pausini after I introduced her to the work of the Italian pop star. Laura’s greatest hits would often soundtrack our trips to the hospital in London. Latterly, I was able to give Pam a new 3CD best of collection and this track was one of her favourites...

Pet Shop Boys
Go West
Another from the Pet Shop Boys and this song in particular was always a favourite of Pam’s. The lyrics speak of there being a better place to go to, to get away from the life we have here...

Kool and the Gang
Celebration
Although Pam was virtually unable to speak or communicate in her final weeks, she surprised me one night when I sat at her hospital bedside and, for some reason happened to be singing this song. Imagine my surprise when Pam started singing the refrain. “Celebrate good times, come on”...

The Osmonds
Crazy Horses
The first song I can remember that both Pam and I liked simultaneously. She was a big fan of everything to do with Donny Osmond and his brothers, while I was into the Alice Cooper group. But we found common ground on this Osmonds rocker...

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Wonderful Tribute David, Glad you put it all on line, so I could read it all and take it all in.

Nobody does it better !!

impossible songs said...

You certainly did her proud...a tragic but heartwarming tale and whole lot of love and blogging.

All the best to you, Ann and the family.

J & A x

Macclesfield Craig said...

Lovely words there, David, you should be proud.

Cheers

Craig

CBQ said...

thanks all. A tough day but a good day. Would give anything for it not to have been necessary though...

Onwards and upwards now...