Apologies to anyone living in the vicinity of East Anglia who may have been able to attend Jill’s funeral in person. The invitation was there for all who loved her and wanted to be there for the service. However, I am recovering from knee replacement surgery – my 3rd orthopedic surgery in 13 months – after having lost my ‘Braveheart’ Father in June, so I’m afraid I forgot about that particular possibility. My mind was focused on ways of connecting all in spirit on the day.
I’ve kept in touch with Jill’s niece, Imogen, as she’s been planning Jill’s ‘goodbye’. She has asked me to say a huge thank you on behalf of the family to those of you who sent a card or letter to Jill in the hospice or left a comment on the blog. Owing to Jill passing over so quickly – a blessing in limiting her bodily suffering from cancers in more than one place, both primary and secondaries – anything which only hit the post on the Monday following my blog post would have arrived too late for Jill. But the family have been so supported by both the number and loving content of the cards that were sent.
I know you will be relieved to hear, however, that Jill’s pain was well managed and that she was in good spirits with long patches of lucidity, when she was able to chat and banter with her visitors. Jill’s great niece, Poppy, who also studied English, read out favourite poems to her, the last one being Larkin’s ‘An Arundel Tomb’, I believe. Poppy will either read one of Jill’s favourites in the service or a poem she has written herself for Jill. Imogen hopes to give the eulogy and her brother, Richard, will read some words. A close, loving family. Jill always loved The Kinks, so their ‘Time Song’ will feature, as will a favourite literary masterpiece, E. Lear’s ‘The Owl and the Pussycat.’
Although I only worked side by side with Jill for just over 5 years at Church High, her effect on my life was huge, both as a friend and also as a teaching mentor. I could not have had a better template. Countless others who knew Miss Mortiboys will feel the same way. Being an English teacher, it didn’t surprise me that Imogen said Jill wanted her funeral service to stay true to the King James Bible. What I didn’t know, however, was that Jill had a Unitarian religious upbringing. Indeed, I had to Google Unitarianism to be sure I was right in my understanding of exactly what their belief system is.
I DID have it largely pinned down, it seems: the Oneness of God; the life and teachings of Jesus as the ultimate model for living one’s own life; and the belief in Free Will. I didn’t know about the focus on Reason and rational thought, but that certainly was VERY Jill. It also explains why the list of influential Unitarians includes Erasmus Darwin and Sir Isaac Newton, clearly! Interesting. One of the most obvious examples of the oneness of God, of course, is how His energy and power is evident in the natural world. And Jill so loved her garden and all of God’s animal beings, not least her beloved cats.
For anyone who could still get there in person, the funeral will be held at 11.30 am on Tuesday, 23rd August in the Abbey Chapel of West Suffolk Cemetery and Crematorium, Bury St Edmunds. It sounds a wonderful place, created to provide a natural space for families to hold a dignified service of their choice for loved ones. The Abbey Chapel is their more modern, light and airy space with oak, upholstered chairs seating 60 people, with standing for 20 – 30.
I’m sure we’ll all be there with Jill and family in spirit (if not able to attend in person) thanks to the Service Order Imogen has kindly sent me today. It can be viewed (or downloaded) by the link below. The plan is for the service to be videoed. If anyone does want to watch it back, if you tell me in a comment, I’ll try to send on a link.
If you attended Church High after Jill left (1990) and want to know what she meant to School at the time, that year’s magazine on the Heritage Website contains two tributes to JCM. Hard to capture such an effervescent nature in a photo, I know, but, hopefully, these images below show the dynamo we all knew as Miss J. C. Mortiboys.
And if you don’t know Philip Larkin’s ‘Arundel Tomb’ very well, its final line seems perfectly fitting here: ‘What will survive of us is love’.