Renowned Aylesbury music journalist and Bucks Herald columnist Kris Needs poignantly writes about the death of his mother Joan, whose funeral took place at Watermead Crematorium last week.
Joan spent most of her life in Aylesbury, living in the family home in Bedgrove and cared for by her family until her death at the age of 95.
Dozens of Brownies will remember her as her role as Tawny Owl in Bedgrove, and in moving Kris Tribute, he tells us about a local life well lived:
Since our monthly Vinyl On Wednesdays events succumbed to lockdown, my contributions to these pages have been limited to sadly lost friends who were part of the fabric of Aylesbury. Writing about my mother Joan, who died last month at age 95, has to be the most difficult of all, while delivering my personal eulogy at her funeral alongside my sister Julia and brother Adrian was the most difficult speech. hard that I have ever had to do.
Aylesbury Vale Crematorium was packed with family and friends on November 2 for its deeply moving service (hosted by KY Green, directed by Mark Bolkonsky). The music consisted of his beloved Jonathan Antoine singing “Ave Maria”, “As Time Goes By” from Casablanca (his first dance with our father) accompanying the slideshow, “Deep River” by Paul Robeson and his favorite “Bring Me Sunshine” From Morecambe and Wise to send everyone to remember Mom’s legendary smile.
Growing up in Cardiff, her mother’s teenage years were dominated by World War II and filled her autograph book outside the theater. The photos show that she could have been herself in movies, her dazzling smile framed by Hollywood hair. After she married David in 1950 and I was born in Bristol, we moved to Churchill Avenue in Southcourt when Dad started working at the Rocket Propulsion Establishment in Westcott. In 1966 we moved to the house on Richmond Road where I write these words. Mom was a popular table lady at Broughton School, worked at newsagents and grocery stores on Parton Road, and delighted local Brownies as Tawny Owl. Pets have proliferated, including rabbits, guinea pigs, dogs, and Horace the tortoise. Mom made many friends walking her golden retrievers and Trixie the Shih Tzu, her beloved companion after our father passed away too early in 1993.
Mom has always encouraged her three children, including Julia and Adrian’s dance reenacting the battles of the English Civil War disguised as a round head. She didn’t quite agree when I kissed the Rolling Stones at the age of ten, but let me go to Friars and hosted visitors like Benazir Bhutto when I was running the fan club at Mott The Hoople (still friendly when she first met the group). She cut out everything I wrote when I was working for The Bucks Advertiser in the ’70s.
I loved not going to school because it meant I had mom to myself. Three years ago that childhood wish came full circle when I returned to the family home after my partner Helen passed away and had all the time I could have dreamed of with mum, especially during the locking. It was my turn to take care of her, giving her back those years of unconditional love that I didn’t always appreciate at the time. Her smile and welcoming personality still worked her magic into her 90s, my friends she met or spoke with on the phone all noticing how warm and lovely she was. The Clash’s Topper Headon even bought his birthday and Christmas presents. She also loved my Loftus bunny when I took her to see her with my beautiful dog Jack, who died two months before her at seventeen.
The last thing I did was spoon ice cream at her, poignantly remembering the days I was out of school fifty years ago when I had tonsillitis and she did the same for me.
Adrian and Julia will agree that we couldn’t have asked for a better mom. Our world might be a darker place without her, but her luminous presence will never fade. After tirelessly helping others all her life, she is finally allowed to rest with her beloved David, as well as countless pets.
Everyone will be smiling and so will we.