Peter Reynolds

The life and times of Peter Reynolds

Posts Tagged ‘Amersham

Barbara Mary Margam Reynolds. 23rd July 1935 – 29th December 2015

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Mum 80th

All Loves
Excelling

Order of Service

Chilterns Crematorium
Amersham

15th January 2016

OOS inside spread

So go and run free with the angels
Dance around the golden clouds
For the lord has chosen you to be with him
And we should feel nothing but proud
Although he has taken you from us
And our pain a lifetime will last
Your memory will never escape us
But make us glad for the time we did have
Your face will always be hidden
Deep inside our hearts
Each precious moment you gave us
Shall never, ever depart
So go and run free with the angels
As they sing so tenderly
And please be sure to tell them
To take good care of you for me

********

When I stood right here a year ago today to speak about my father, my mother sat right there.

The dignity and grace with which she conducted herself that day are the qualities that have characterised her whole life.  In an extraordinary note that she wrote to her children just a few weeks ago, which seemed prescient of her death, she instructed us not to be sad but to celebrate her life.

Thank you for coming here today to do just that.  She would want you all to come to the King’s Arms afterwards, so please make sure you do.

In the last six or seven years, as my father’s health deteriorated, I was taking him to hospitals and doctors, sometimes more than once a week.  As a result I became closer to Mum than at any time in my life, certainly since primary school age.  I am grateful that for these last few years, we shared our lives on a daily basis. I would call every evening between six-thirty and seven. Sometimes we would talk for two minutes, sometimes for half an hour, sometimes about trivia and gossip and sometimes we would set the world to rights. It was a great pleasure and a privilege, as an adult, to get to know this wonderful woman. My mum became my best friend.

And what a remarkable woman she was. It is no exaggeration to say that she was a polymath or a rennaissance woman, someone whose knowledge and experience stretches across many different subjects and is not trivial but deep and profound.

Her father, Jack, was an extraordinary man who blagged his way into the Royal College of Physiotherapy on a promise to produce his non-existent school certificate at a later date.  He cleaned buses at night to support himself and was the gold medal student of his year. He became a legend in sports medicine in Wales with Cardiff City, Glamorgan County Cricket and the national teams in football and rugby. Similarly, her mother, Milly, was a formidable woman and woe betide anyone who crossed her.  No surprise then that Mum went on to build on these qualities in her own life.

But what must have been a huge surprise to everyone was that one of her first acts as an adult was to defy her parents.

She had met and fallen in love with this rather short, ginger bloke who was going prematurely bald.  Mum was a beauty; hour glass figure, absolutely stunning.  Dad must have thought he had won the lottery – and he had.

Jack and Milly forbade the wedding.  Malcolm wasn’t good enough for Barbara. But the wedding went ahead without the parents of the bride and never, ever has one couple been proved so wrong and the other so right.  My parents’ marriage defines love and partnership.  It was a triumph.

Mum had an intellect sharper than a cut throat razor and a heart bigger than the world. I have never seen so much joy as in the eyes of my parents at a baby, their children, grandchildren, great grandchildren, nephews and nieces. Family mattered more than anything and any that have sought to divide our family will answer when they meet Mum and Dad at the pearly gates.

Mum collected stamps, thimbles, pill boxes, china, elephants – models, not real ones. She was interested in literature, poetry, art, cooking, embroidery, tennis, rugby, science, politics. I know the ladies of her Thursday discussion group appreciated her diligence and I teased her every week “Was it just gossip or did you do any work?”

She raised four small boys through the 1960s until the minor scandal of becoming pregnant with Vicky at what was then regarded as the grand old age of 35.  Ooh! It was a minor scandal in Chorleywood.

At one time she was secretary of the Church of England Children’s Society.  At another of the National Housewives Register, a term which the politically correct would despise but this was my mother standing up for women’s rights in a way today’s feminazis couldn’t begin even to comprehend.

Indeed, she had an open mind, transcending the generations.  No one was a bigger supporter of my campaign for medicinal cannabis, controversial though it is but of course she was a scientist, a degree in biology, another in psychology, a trained healthcare professional, a speech therapist.  She followed the evidence. She was always rational, considered and she rejected all forms of bigotry and prejudice.  She used to joke about wanting a little black baby.  I’m not sure Dad was OK about that!

Recently, she had joined the University of the Third Age and was revelling in new friends and opportunities.  The courage and determination she showed moving out of the family home after Dad died and building a new life in Chorleywood was extraordinary, a lesson to us all.

So for us, her children, her extended family and all those who loved her, the very worst has happened.

I have lost my mum and my best friend.  But I, we, could not be better prepared. We have been guided in life by a paragon, a diamond which will persist in our hearts and memories forever; untarnished, undiminished, permanent.

Thank you Mum, thank you for all you have given me, all you have given us and all you have given to the world.

Barbara with college friends, mid 1950s

Barbara with college friends, mid 1950s

Malcolm Stanley Reynolds. 10th December 1933 – 31st December 2014.

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Dad pic 1

A Life Well Lived

Chilterns Crematorium

Amersham

15th January 2015

OOS p2and3

To William and Ethel, a son.

Malcolm.

Husband. Father. Brother. Grandfather. Uncle.  A mentor, benefactor and example to so many.

He has had a wonderful life.

It is a wonderful life, alive in the hearts and memories of all who knew him, especially those of us that love him.

For us it is as a legend, almost a fairy tale of romance, nobility and triumph against all the odds.  That is why, though very emotional, I can feel no sadness at my father’s story; only joy, pride, satisfaction at a life so well lived.  Would that we could all cross the finish line in first place, for my father has the gold medal around his neck and he is our champion.

Until the build-up to war in 1938, William, my grandfather, could not get regular shifts at the steelworks in Newport.  There was no food on the table and my father was severely malnourished. 50 years later after winning a scholarship to Oxford, in union with the woman he adored every minute of his life, he was at the top of his profession: one of the leading commercial lawyers in the UK, an extraordinary achievement, a measure of our time.

Yet nothing mattered to my father except family.  That’s not that it was more important than anything else. It was all that mattered.

So we have had our fair share of petty squabbles and division but never, not once, has he, nor my mother, been diverted from a deep and abiding love for each one of us.  For his five children, he provided the total security, material and emotional, that enabled us to go out into the world and make our own mistakes, achieve our own successes in which he took so much pride.

My earliest memory is of him hopping down the path of our bungalow in Gorleston to a waiting ambulance having put a garden fork through his foot.  Hugh was not yet born, so I was younger than 18 months old but I remember it like yesterday.

We all have special memories.  It is impossible to pick between them. I recall him taking me on my first visit to the cinema, the Acocks Green Odeon, to see Zulu – and the great Welsh pride in that.  Later, I recall seeing James Bond films with him and he introduced me to the books, including the naughty bits, so risqué and daring at the time.

In 1970, I accompanied Dad as a VIP guest to the Alcan Open, a golf tournament in  County Dublin. We were both mischievously plied with drink, me having just passed  13, and we nearly missed our plane home.

In the past year of his life he endured the tragedy of Jonathan’s untimely death. With great dignity he has led this family to where we are today.  Nothing has ever given me more pride than to take him to his last formal occasion in October when he saw my son, Richard, called to the bar.  I know he was equally overjoyed a few weeks later to visit Jacob at his college in Oxford.

What characterises my father’s life throughout is enormous generosity, both of spirit and in material terms.  Even to those who had wronged him or against whom he had just cause for complaint, he has always been there, always a ready hand to those in times of need.

Indivisible from my father’s life is his union with my mother which transcends death as much as any relationship ever can.  I believe his love and legacy will sustain her forever. They deserve each other as much as the night deserves the sunrise.  Nothing will ever extinguish what is between them.

Dad often used to speak in French. I’m not sure why but I fondly remember being called John-Pierre or John-P.  So I will never say goodbye to him.  Instead, the French express it so much better: au revoir mon pere.

Dad