Things began with Maureen’s coffin arriving at St Mary’s the night before the funeral. The church bell rung repeatedly as Dave Maclure welcomed Maureen into the church for the last time. Many of us were close to Maureen she was dearly loved by many. We were dreading the funeral. We didn’t know what to expect on Sunday night. However Dave Maclure’s comforting words that Sunday evening softened the pain of the following day. It was peaceful.
Maureen suffered a stroke in November. She lost her ability to speak and to move her right side. She still managed to grin, smile and squeeze the hands of her friends. She was an amazing woman. She led the prayer ministry at St Mary’s and she served in several ways and many years at Holy Trinity, Hounslow. She counselled and prayed for many people, effortlessly gave of her time and energy. Maureen also became a trusted confidant of gay Christians who struggled with sexuality and acceptance.
The funeral the next day was packed. One couple flew in from Ghana especially to pay their respects. Revs Stewart Shaw and Oliver Ross joined Dave in conducting the funeral. There were heartfelt tributes. The eulogy, written by Rev Regan O’Callaghan, who is currently abroad, was played on a CD. Later, some of Maureen’s own prayers and poems were also read out, showing her deep trust in God and honesty in her faith.
The music and hymns were incredibly uplifting. We didn’t feel sad. It was truly a celebration of Maureen’s life and chance to give thanks to God for the hope we have as Christians that death is not the end.
One detail worth mentioning. The coffin was outstanding! It was turquoise blue with pictures from her life all over the coffin. We all unashamedly took photos, and instead of being put off by the coffin, many approached and walked around and laughed at the reminders of places Maureen had been.
After the funeral a few of us had dinner at the Richmond hotel. We then went to the river and let off lanterns in her honour. Maureen had done the same over the years for the people she lost. As I let go of my lantern I wondered what Maureen would have thought of her own funeral. Maureen would have been extremely touched by all of the efforts made. More importantly Maureen would have been overjoyed by the display of love on her special day because love is what Maureen was all about.