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By Belinda 

Wednesday, March 21, the morning after the funeral, I wrote out a thank you card to Thomas Brothers, the funeral directors, and walked down to Red Lion Street to deliver it personally. I was so grateful for the support we received, and had tried to convey all of my feelings in the card.

I crossed the road to their small business, looking in through the window at the comfortable chairs and quiet room where we had talked to Meg, who had helped us through the process of planning, with such grace, tact and professionalism.

As I entered through the front door, a man with silver gray, short cut hair, emerged from the back office. He was dressed in dark pin striped trousers, a gray brocade waistcoat (vest,) beneath which I caught the occasional flash of red suspenders. His shoes were immaculately polished and his brown eyes twinkled welcome as he greeted me.

He introduced himself as Mr. Thomas, the father of the four Thomas brothers who run the funeral directing business. 

I was able to tell him in person what a blessing his sons had been to us. His eyes smiled with pride and he told me that all but one of the brothers are ex Royal Marines who served in Ireland in the 1980's. At one time there were two brothers serving together. They approach their business with an eye to detail; everything must be perfect: shoes polished, cars washed and polished.

I told him how carefully his staff Maureen had prepared Mum for my last visit with her. He said, "Ah, that's my wife Christine's doing. I leave it all to her. She comes in every Friday to see how things are going. We take care of everyone in the same way, even if no one is coming to see them. She always says that if there is a heaven, when they get to heaven's gates they have to be beautiful!" 

I was loving the stories that began to pour out of Mr. Thomas, who turned out to be as Welsh as his name. In between periodically saying reproachfully, "I'm doing all the talking," he told me a funny story about his dad, whom he said was upstairs, while pointing at the ceiling. I got the feeling that his dad was dead as well as upstairs, and he confirmed that indeed he was. Then he told me that he had taken him home with him on the weekend for the rugby game because Wales was playing! He said he had put him on the couch in front of the t.v., with his spectacles on the top of the box containing his ashes. I roared with laughter!

He told me how his wife had started the business with her redundancy pay when she was made redundant from her job with M.E.B. (Midlands Electricity Board.) Her friend Valda, who had served the refreshments at the Ark, the day before, had also been made redundant at the same time. They both decided together--Valda to open a catering business and Christine to open a funeral business.

Mr. Thomas said that he was a "doubting Thomas," ha ha! For in the first two months there was only one funeral! Now, years later, the majority of funerals announced in the local papers are being handled by Thomas Brothers.

After this delightful visit with Mr. Thomas, I went home to Mum's flat. The interment of Mum's ashes in the churchyard of St. Laurence Church, was at 3.00 that afternoon.

Rob, Susan and I drove up to the church where we met Tim and John. Mark Thomas was already waiting for us there in the sunshine of the afternoon, under another blue sky. He held a beautiful box wooden with Mum's name on a brass plate.

We chatted under the canopy of the spring sky and soon we saw David Martin striding towards us, his white surplice flapping in the breeze.

He spoke simple words of committal and read the beautiful declaration of faith from Job.

Job 19:25-27

English Standard Version Anglicised (ESVUK)
25 For I (A)know that my (B)Redeemer lives,
    and at the last he will stand upon the (C)earth.[a]
26 And after my skin has been thus destroyed,
    yet in[b] my flesh I shall (D)see God,
27 whom I shall see for myself,
    and my eyes shall behold, and not (E)another.
Rev. David Martin, rector of St. Laurence Church.
After Mum's box had been safely put by Rob, into the small hole dug in the warm reddish Alvechurch clay over Dad's grave, David Martin chatted with Tim and John before heading back to the church. I talked to Mark about his dad's story about taking his grandfather's ashes home for the rugby game. He laughed and told me how when his grandfather was alive he and his brothers would call on purpose during the game just to annoy him, and how his grandfather would get so mad at them he would unplug the phone.

It all felt very comforting and peaceful. And it continues to feel that way...we felt surrounded by love and could feel the prayers of those who were there in spirit caring for us. 

Mark Thomas


swissdebbie said…
Beautiful pictures....and explication of the ceremony, which is so different from ours.....
Belinda said…
Thank you Deb--for being there "with us" in your heart.
Thanks for showing pictures of the flowers, ours looked exactly like we asked for - the florist was kind enough to take the time to hear what it was we wanted. Its rare to send flowers and actually see what was sent. We didn't know your mother but be imagined she'd like bright spring flowers.
Belinda said…
Oh Dave, your flowers were fit for the Queen. They were even more beautiful than the photos. I've never seen a more beautiful selection ANYwhere! Thank you for choosing them with so much love and care.

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