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Tales from the riverbank

September 2, 2012

The day we scattered Dad’s ashes in Aber, a week before Mum dies. Top lady on top form

Yesterday we scattered our mother’s ashes. Just over a year since she died. Which was one week after scattering our father’s ashes. Unlike Dad, Mum had not made any preferences known for what she wanted either at her funeral or with her ashes. It did make me reflect that it is helpful for those left behind if you can jot down a few pointers before you go. I have meant to do this since they died, but of course haven’t ( but I feel a blog post about it coming on….). But this post isn’t about me – this one is about what we did to remember Mum.

We had originally decided to scatter them where we scattered Dad’s – out at sea off the coast of Aberystwyth. We had all had a lovely day together doing that and Mum had been on top form. It also felt that they would be together if we did it in the same place. Anyway, my sister listened to her inner niggles and thought through other options in an effort to be ‘Anywhere but Wales’ – a phrase our mother had used to tell father where she would be happy to live after they were married. Of course they had spent the vast majority of their married life in Wales, so Kate thought it wasn’t fair we left her ashes to rest there too. And she was right. Cambridge was a much more ‘Mum’ kind of place.

Afternoon tea with her fellow students at Cambridge. Mum is third from left.

As with father’s, the sun shone on us for the proceedings. We met outside her College and wandered around the beautiful old buildings having never been there before. She had been very proud of being at Cambridge and had had a ball. Numerous balls. And a similar number of men. And at least three engagements. All before our father.

From the College to a meal. All of us toasting Mum – Georgina with a large gin and tonic in tribute although it would really need to have been a mega strength one to match Mum’s.

And then on to Magdalen bridge punt station where all seven of us boarded the characteristic flat bottomed boat and were guided around the backs (as that part of the river Cam is known as it passes the backs of a number of the Colleges). Beautiful, awe-inspiring setting.

Breathtaking views of Colleges from the punt

Her only grandson

We drank champagne and toasted Mum. Kate read inscriptions in two books – one from Dad to Mum and one from Mum to Dad. Literature had been a big part of their lives (and Mum had reviewed books for the Scotsman when we were small) so it seemed fitting it was part of these proceedings. I read Shakespeare’s Sonnet 18 (“Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?”), and Richard read a Dorothy Parker poem, Epitaph for a Darling Lady. It was all very moving.

Toasting Grandma before we scatter the ashes in the Cam

We had freesias, (her favourites along with sweet peas) and red roses for Lancashire to scatter in the water with the ashes and we all threw them in as we said a few personal words of rememberance and tribute.

Kate had brought the ashes from Wales and opened the disgusting plastic pot to commence the scattering. The wind started to blow them back in to the punt so I took them as was on the other side  of the boat.  I tipped the tub upside down and a stream of fine dust started to emerge. Unfortunately, the wind was not as unidirectional as one might have thought, and there was quite a bit of blow back on to Richard and Rob. As ever, mother was sticking with the men till the last.

As we disembarked, feeling that it had been a really lovely, tasteful, classy  and fitting afternoon, and one that she would have enjoyed, we felt we couldn’t simply get in separate cars and go home so we found a pub and had one final drink. And as we drained our glasses for the last time the record came on the jukebox. And I kid you not. It was  “Another one bites the dust.”  It made us laugh and will no doubt make us all think of her every time we hear that song.

Here’s to Jose Morgan – a warm, witty, wise and wonderful woman who always put others before herself.

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10 Responses to “Tales from the riverbank”

  1. Anonymous Says:

    She looked so full of life in your photo taken only a week before, but a lovely memory recorded for you all, very moving
    Jane xxx

  2. Barbara Says:

    Hello Sarah and all–I was very moved by your story-but smiled as well. You may like to know that Peter has asked to have his ashes put into a cartridge and fired into the air over Knighton. Geoff Hall(undertaker)–says that he will have to use 50 cartridges as Pete is rather large!!xx


    • hahaha! hello barbara- how nice of you to drop by. I love the thought of Peter being fired over Knighton – how to go out with a bang! Hope you are both well and the prospect is very distant! xx

  3. georgiemcclarke Says:

    Aw, lovely post. It was a great day xx


  4. What a wonderful way to tribute your mother! Love the story!


  5. Its 3 years since my Dad died and I still have nt done the ashes thing. I was thinking of scattering at Fort William as he loved Scotland but now have decided to take them to the Shrine of St Jude in Faversham. My Dad donated to the St Jude trust all his life so seems the right place. St Jude is patron saint of hopeless cases and I think my Dad always felt a kinship.


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