My most important speech – Mum knew exactly what to do

mum with flowers

A tribute to my beautiful mum, Georgine DeCastro 19/03/35 – 19/10/14 ( read today 30/10/14 at her funeral)

“I believe I was about 6 years old when mum and dad bought our very first dog into our home, it was only a puppy but I was terrified of it. If it even came into the same room as me I would scream and run out of the room as fast as I could crying like a baby.

Mum knew exactly what to do

She picked me up, carried me into the kitchen, sat me down on the cold linoleum floor and put Tina, (the dog) straight into my lap. She then stood over both me and Tina making sure that neither of us could escape as we both screamed our lungs out for what seemed like hours.

It worked.

After that experience I learned to not only love Tina but to love all dogs and I still love all dogs to this day.

You may think that was cruel but I think what’s crueler is that Madeleine, my own wife, won’t let me have a dog today.

When I was about 8 years old I remember walking home from school on my own one day (which you could actually do back in the day without anyone giving it a thought), but this particular day a boy I didn’t know and had never seen before decided he wanted to beat me up for some reason.

I ran as fast as I could all the way home and the boy chased behind me for about a mile. I arrived home just before he could catch me and I ran in and shut the door quickly behind.

Whilst I was desperately trying to catch my breath, this bully had the cheek to ring on our doorbell.

Mum went to open the door.

I begged her not to as I cried telling her that there was a bully standing on the other side of the door who had chased me home to beat me up.

Mum knew exactly what to do

She shoved me out the front door, told me to go and sort it out and promptly locked the door behind me.

Since that day I’ve never been afraid of anyone

When I was about the same age my brothers Marcos and Anthony decided they wanted to play darts in the back garden but had nowhere to hang the dartboard. They were both much brighter that I was in those days so they managed to persuade me to hold the dartboard up for them.

Marcos threw the first dart which quickly and very painfully went straight into my arm.

Mum knew exactly what to do.

I’m sure Marcos and Anthony will be only too pleased to show you their scars on the way out.

Playing darts has never been the same since.

They don’t make mums like that anymore

Now, I know when I say that some people may say well that’s a good thing isn’t it?

I don’t agree at all, in fact I now believe that all mums should be made like that.

When I had my appendix out at the tender age of 9 mum stayed by my bedside day and night. When I came out of the hospital just before Christmas she even let me put the angel on top of the tree.  

That was a big deal, trust me.

See, she had her tender side too

Mum didn’t have an easy life by any stretch of the imagination but she was the strongest woman I knew or believe I will ever know.

She truly was one of a kind.

She loved her family very much and even though she wasn’t a tactile person and wasn’t particularly great at showing her love, we all knew we were loved.

Even though she often drove me to despair I loved every single hair on her head. In fact so much so that when she was asleep in hospital I cut a small piece to keep when she was gone.

Sorry mum, I was very careful I promise.

She taught me more than she could ever know or imagine.

She taught me the truth about unconditional love, not from her, but from me.

It didn’t ever matter what she said or did to me and only god knows she did and said plenty to all of us but I loved her with all of my heart and soul and nothing could or would ever change that.

I loved her unconditionally

She also taught me never to make a promise I couldn’t keep although it took me many years to learn the lesson.

The day dad passed away, which was twenty years ago now, mum was desperately distraught as you can imagine, we all were.

I held her close trying to comfort her as she was crying uncontrollably  and she kept asking me what would happen to her now that dad has left her.

Remember they had been together for almost 40 years.

I promised her that I would take care of her.

That was the promise I just couldn’t keep

I tried as hard as I possibly could but it just wasn’t within my gift. Wherever I was in the world I called her every day, I went to see her every single week and often several times a week.

I tried hard to do my very best to make sure she never wanted for much but It became clear that  I couldn’t really take care of her.

Eventually I realized that I could be there to help, support, comfort her and even pick up some of the pieces but I couldn’t actually take care of her if she didn’t take care of herself first.

That was the final lesson

She had no idea what she was teaching but the fact was, she was teaching us that first and foremost we have to take responsibility for our own lives as adults.

It’s my belief that the very day dad passed away mum opted out of the game of life.

She stayed alive but she wasn’t truly living.

That’s a lesson for all of us

Not just to breathe, eat, sleep,  work, watch TV, buy lottery tickets and slowly self-destruct, but to live and love and laugh and to squeeze every ounce  out of life as we possibly can because one day, much sooner than we each think we will no longer have the choice.

The last time I saw mum truly alive was when we danced and sang the night away on a harbour cruise in Barbados.  Between us I believe we drank enough rum to sink the whole boat.

A memory I will hold dear mum

There are many times I’ve wanted to change so many things about mum but it’s only now that she’s gone that I realize what she’s given and taught me.

Now I understand that I wouldn’t change a thing.

 You will each have your own stories and memories of mum and I would ask you today to remember the ones that made you smile and find the ones that taught you how to be a better person and live a better life.

Some of you may not have realized she was teaching you something but I believe that if you look closely and search your heart you will find the lesson. It’s there somewhere.

I know in my heart that mum is in a better place now being showered with love from her mum and dad, our dad and her sisters and brother.  I know she is looking down smiling on all of us today and I am absolutely certain that we will all be with her again soon.

It’s that knowing that will keep me going until that time comes, although please don’t make it too soon mum.

In the meantime I will continue to love and talk to her every day in my mind and heart. I’ve spoken with her every day for at least the last 20 years and I intend to continue for the next 20 and beyond.

Before I close I just want to point out for those who don’t already know that we have three angels in the room today.

The first is a lady that most of you won’t know, her name is Rama.

Rama is one of the nurses who cared for mum in the hospital during her last few weeks here. I watched Rama treat mum with such kindness and gentleness that each time I realized she was on shift I was overjoyed knowing that mum would be treated so well.

She cared for mum with a big smile but also a tear in her eye as though she were her own mother. A particularly difficult task given that I know Rama lost her own mother only a few weeks ago herself.

Thank you for your kindness Rama

The second angel is Noreen.

Noreen’s relationship with mum began some 12 years ago as a carer and she very quickly became much, much more to mum. Mum, loved, respected, trusted and relied on Noreen in more ways than we could probably ever imagine. Noreen this family could never ever repay you for the love and kindness you have showed our mum, you have proved to me that there are angels walking this earth and we will be forever grateful to you.

Thank you, Noreen

The other angel needs no introduction.

It’s my belief that if anyone here today believes in reincarnation and had to make a decision before they passed away as to which person they know on earth today they would like to come back as everyone without exception would shout as loudly as they could Cordelia.

Mum made plenty of children but Cordelia is the ‘jewel in the crown’.

She has a heart as vast as an ocean and the strength of her mother which I believe makes her stronger than all of us put together.

Mum may have given Cordelia life but its Cordelia that saved mums life many times and made her life as comfortable as she possibly could.

Mum may have gone for now, but she’s left us all a gift in Cordelia that we need to take great care of.

Thank you mum

Mum you’re like a flame that once burned with such energy, passion and vitality, but it seems like you flickered so brightly for just a short while and then quietly went out.

We will love you forever and will be reunited again mum. 

Until then rest in peace MUM”

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