2012 was not my best year. September 19th saw my Mum pass away after a short fight with illness. It came as a shock for our family. As we are not religious, my Mum had asked me to say a few words instead of having her funeral overseen by a stranger. She wanted me to do it because she thought I might be able to do it in a “happy way”. It was the most difficult thing I have had to do. My brother, Jason, and my sister, Kelly, helped out with the readings. I was proud of them and I hope we all did a job that Mum would have been proud of.
This is how I tried to remember her at the service.
Jenny Ann Siron.
21.05.1949 – 19.09.2012
Legacy Of Love – Unknown
Kelly to read.
A wife, a mother, a grandma too,
This is the legacy we have from you.
You taught us love and how to fight,
You gave us strength, you gave us might.
A stronger person would be hard to find,
And in your heart, you were always kind.
You fought for us all in one way or another,
Not just as a wife not just as a mother.
For all of us you gave your best,
Now the time has come for you to rest.
So go in peace, you’ve earned your sleep,
Your love in our hearts, we’ll eternally keep.
Jennifer Ann Siron, Jenny, was born in Kilkenny on the 21st of May 1949 which meant that she was on the cusp of both Taurus and Gemini. We knew this because she used to read both horoscopes in the morning paper and decide which one suited her better that day.
Mum had 5 sisters, Theresa, Kate, Bernie, Anna and Mo along with two brothers, John and Andrew. She also had an extra “bonus” sister, her Auntie Paula who was definitely more like a sister than an Aunt. As I understand it, Paula and Theresa are partly responsible for the night where, knowing that she was not allowed to stay out late, Mum decided to camp out over night in order to be first in the queue for Beatles tickets. An exercise in distraction allowed Mum to see John , Paul, Ringo and particularly George without being caught. By her own admission, she was part of an unusual family and this provided her with the determination to build a strongly bonded family of her own. That so many people have taken the time, trouble and expense to join her today makes me think that she might well have succeeded. For that, we would like to thank you, whether you have known Mum for many years, just a few, or even if you never had the chance to meet her personally but have come to support us today. Thank you.
I am not the best person to tell you about Mum in her younger years. I wasn’t there for most of them. Someone who was, is her best friend, Denise. We always knew when Mum was on the phone to Denise because every conversation began with Mum using Denise’s nickname. “HIYA CRAB!” always meant that Mum was going to be unavailable for a couple of hours. I have heard them being described as “thick as thieves” and as any good friend would do, Denise took great delight in reminding Mum every May that she was almost a full year younger than her. Mum always has to have the last laugh and I am sure she’d want me to tell you, Denise, that you are going to catch her up now.
Mum was always a hard worker and had many different jobs. From dinner lady to factory worker, garden helper at Tullygally school to market trader. It was while she was working as a secretary that she met my Dad, David Harry Siron. I suspect that he knew he wasn’t going to have a meek and mild partner from the moment she threw a hot cup of coffee at him in the office when he annoyed her. If anyone ever saw Mum try and throw a tennis ball for our dog, Elsa, you will know he needn’t have worried. The last place anything she throws is going to land, is where she intended to throw it. Dad survived the flying Nescafe and before long they were caught dancing in a warehouse with Mum standing on Dad’s toes.
They became married and were lucky enough to have three children. Jason, Kelly and myself. Due to the kind of jobs that Dad worked, Mum was responsible for the majority of our upbringing. We were taught right from wrong, manners, honesty among many other lessons. I am not the one to say how well we learned but I hope that we have done her proud. I am certain that her four Grandchildren, Josh, Ben, Jorja and Max will carry on to make her burst with pride.
Mum and Dad have been together for 42 years. It is their 40th wedding anniversary on the 28th October, just next month. There cannot be a better example of two people becoming the perfect team. I don’t think there can be a better example of love than my Mum and Dad. I didn’t realise how lucky I was until I went to University and was getting to know the other students from my halls of residence. Out of a large crowd of us drinking to our future studies, I was the only one who had parents who were still together. Still a perfect team.
One of Mum’s strongest skills was accounting and finding the best value in any given situation. Dad will openly tell you that without her keen eye for a bargain and ability to cut her cloth to fit, he wouldn’t have had anywhere near as comfortable life financially. You could see how she did it if you looked closely enough. The Head And Shoulders shampoo bottle was rarely filled with Head And Shoulders, but with a suspicious looking gloop from the 5 gallon container labelled “Economy Shampoo” stored neatly in the airing cupboard. Monday night meals followed a strict menu. The leftover beef from Sunday’s roast dinner greeted us every Monday in what quickly became known as “Cold meat, chips and peas night.” Nothing wasted, EVER. Mum’s frugal nature can also been seen in our home. If you look on top of the cupboards there is an entire battery of Crunchy Nut Cornflakes, stockpiled from when they were involved in a 2 for 1 offer. Mum’s keen eye for a bargain also saw her boarding a bus in Leeds, complete with an enormous double bed head instead of paying the delivery fee. Mum has also trained Dad to be cautious in his spending. Even though he thinks she didn’t know about his sneaky trips to buy yet another drill, I can assure you that every penny was accounted for in Mum’s records. He only has himself to blame though, for handing every single receipt he ever received over to her as he walked in the door. Mum’s contributions to our family did not just allow us a more comfortable life, but made us positively wealthy in more ways than she knew.
Mum has always been a very house-proud person. So much so that she insisted on keeping the TV remote control on top of the TV. This has to be the single most pointless place to keep a remote control in the world. If you have to stand up and walk to the TV to turn it on, then what is the point of a remote control? You might as well just press the button on the TV. But that didn’t matter. A place for everything and everything in its place. She did find use for the remote in the end though. She found that she could sit in the chair and turn the volume down while speaking to Denise without having to get up. It didn’t occur to her that she was talking on a cordless phone while the rest of us ended up watching a TV programme while trying to lip read what was being said. Her flirtations with remote control extended to her time in the hospital where, after she commandeered the ward remote, the nurses realised their position in the hierarchy and took to asking Mum if they could borrow the remote to change the channel for other patients. They always brought it back to her though. Mum always gets her way.
She wasn’t a big TV watcher despite her Remote control control. She insisted on watching just a few programmes. She loved LOST and in particular the grumpy and cynical character Sawyer. She also had to watch every episode of Doc Martin where Martin Clunes plays a grumpy and cynical GP. There must be something about Mum and grumpy, cynical men.
Dad has been undergoing a series of training courses in the last few weeks so that he is prepared to continue the household chores. Mum has instilled the same regimented approach to domesticity in him. Proudly, a couple of Mondays ago, he presented her with a pile of freshly ironed laundry. His ear to ear grin was tempered when, expecting a glowing pat on the back for a job well done, she berated him soundly. “Ironing day is a Tuesday. You have nothing to do tomorrow now.” She found something for him to do on Tuesday and he never made that mistake again.
Dad loves his motorbikes, and for a brief period of time, Mum was his pillion of choice. They even went to buy their helmets together, no doubt looking for a bulk buying discount. I think it was Kelly that discovered them “wearing in” these helmets by spending an hour laid on their own bed wearing them. Dad also bought an inter helmet intercom system so they could chat as they zoomed around Derbyshire. He quickly discovered that if you travelled over 41 MPH that he could no longer hear her. Whilst riding through Matlock, Mum was window shopping on her right hand side. At the very last minute, Dad saw the turning to his left that he needed to take and dramatically leaned the bike over and swung it down the steep hill. For the 1 hour ride back home, Mum called him every offensive and insulting name you can think of. He removed the intercom system and, most unusually for my Dad, threw something that worked perfectly well into the bin.
All families have trials and tribulations. I should tell you about one such circumstance from when we were young, but I can’t. It isn’t that we, as a family, didn’t ups and downs, but that we were protected from them and allowed to carry on as though nothing was wrong. This is just one example of how Mum was fiercely protective of her family. Another is when she beat up a load of German tourists who were trying to jump the queue to get on a bus in Majorca. No one was pushing in while her family had been waiting patiently. She also made sure the entire bus queue got on before she relented and let them board. She did not suffer fools gladly and told people how it was. It was this fierceness that my friends picked up. It was also this fierceness that rendered the vast majority of my friends terrified of her. My best friend, Scott, is a 37 year old, 6’4” muscle bound police officer in Calgary and he still refuses to address her as anything other than Mrs Siron.
As time mellows a person, Mum become less known for her fierceness and more for her sense of humour. She had the ability to laugh with you, at you or with you at herself. I have lost count of the number of silly games I have duped her into playing with me. I have bounced a series of items off her head in the last few years, just to see if I could. I have played kitchen pinball with her, where I open cupboard doors and she has to go wherever the “flipper” has propelled her. She played along with these and more with patience I didn’t know a person could possess.
Mum was a woman that thought through everything beforehand. Failure to prepare is preparing to fail. The only thing she didn’t always give sufficient mind to was what she said. Not just quick to voice her opinion but also to launch a number of comedy gems without any idea that she had done so. Many years ago, Dad was playing with the idea of buying a personalised number plate for our lowly Ford Escort. Following the UK system of registration, he suggested buying S1 RON as it wasn’t very expensive at all and would look like our surname. Mum readily agreed and suggested that we also do the same for her car, buying S2 RON.
Mum and Dad weren’t lavish spenders, I think you will have already gathered this. They would spend hours pouring over holiday brochures, and more latterly, internet holiday sites. They have travelled to a number of countries and always said that you should never go back to somewhere as it will never live up to your first visit. 5 trips to Nerja in Spain and we can safely say that they both admit that they were wrong. They also took the time to sail around the Caribbean on a cruise. In order to get the boat, they had to get a British Airways connection from Leeds to Heathrow. Once on board the connection, the cabin crew asked Mum if she would like a sausage sandwich or a chicken sandwich. Mum chose sausage. The cabin crew gave her what she asked for and Mum, without her reading glasses on, called her back immediately. “Excuse me Miss. I asked for a sausage sandwich and not a bacon one.” The patient lady replied “Madam, I have given you a sausage sandwich, exactly as you asked.” Mum was concrete in her argument, “No. I am afraid that you are wrong. Look here on the label. It clearly states that this is a BACON sandwich. Please give me a sausage sandwich, as I asked you.” The still polite cabin crew remained professional and said “Madam, that is a sausage sandwich. The label you are reading says BA.COM. Have a nice flight.” Mum ate her sausage sandwich while muttering that they should have made the label a lot more clear. Mum is always right. Even when she is wrong.
Jason told me about a 5 day long argument he had with Mum. After 5 days of sulking and sniping at each other, Dad took Jason to one side and gave him the most valuable piece of advice he will ever receive. “Listen son. You know that you are right. I know that you are right. Your Mum knows that you are right. Now go and apologise to your Mum.”
There are some things that Mum insisted on. One was peace and quiet while she was reading. She is an avid book reader and steadfastly refused to entertain the idea of a Kindle electronic book reader. She liked the smell, feel and look of a book. But she relented and eventually gave the Kindle a chance after Jason gave her the device for Christmas. “I don’t know why he bought me this. I will never use a thing like this.” she confided in me. She bought 136 books on that Kindle. We know exactly how many as Jason forgot to remove his credit card details from the associated account.
While Mum was ill in hospital, she insisted that nobody was allowed to come to see her. She didn’t want anyone outside of her immediate family to see her in a weakened state. She was absolutely adamant about this. Her family and friends are as stubborn as she is and flights were booked. Mum died at 02.20 on Wednesday the 19th of September, before any of them could arrive. You see, one way or another, she always gets her own way.
Mum wasn’t particularly known for her sporting endeavours, but she did complete a couple of Races For Life. While she was ill, she became fascinated by the feats of endurance, skill and athleticism of both the Olympics and Paralympics in London. To shamelessly borrow from sporting events and the unity of celebration, I would ask that you all join me in a minute of applause for my Mum. If you get tired during the minute, just think what my Mum would have said to you. “Shut up and get on with it.”
Thank you once again for all of the help and support you have afforded us and for coming today.
I will leave you with the words of Mum’s granddaughter, Jorja.
“I hope hope you are ok Granny.”
Life Must Go On – A Navaho Prayer
Jason to read.
Grieve for me, for I would grieve for you.
Then brush away the sorrow and the tears
Life is not over, but begins anew,
With courage you must greet the coming years.
To live forever in the past is wrong;
It can only cause you misery and pain.
Dwell not on memories overlong,
With others you must share and care again.
Reach out and comfort those who comfort you;
Recall the years, but only for a while.
Nurse not your loneliness; but live again.
Forget not. Remember with a smile.