EULOGY FOR OUR DEAR MUM, AUDREY WARD, GIVEN AT THE WAKE
*God has called our beloved mother home,
to a place of pure love, peace, and light,
to sing and dance among the angels,
and shine in her body of light, her wings taking flight.
Safe in God's loving care, safe from all fear and pain,
reunited with her dear husband and family once again.*
Audrey Mabel Richardson Ward, loving and beloved daughter, sister, aunt, and wife, wonderful and loving mother of 3, grandmother of 4, and great grandmother of 5. A good and honorable woman, with a kind, compassionate and generous nature. Dad says in his "Audrey's Story" how she has shown compassion throughout her life, and unselfishness she has displayed since the day it was his good fortune to meet her. Mum never liked the name Mabel, I guess she didn't like how it sounds, but it means lovable, loving, and beautiful, which indeed she is, both inside and out. Of all Mum and Dad's siblings and their spouses, Mum has survived the longest, being the last to pass on. God bless her! And how fitting that her birthday is so close to Thanksgiving and was most always celebrated on that day we give thanks for our many blessings. For what a precious blessing you have been, our dearest Mum.
Mum was brought up in a quite creative and musical family. We've seen photos of the lovely garden her Dad had created with sculptures, fish pond, and aviary with budgie birds he used to breed. She was reminiscing about the past to me some years ago and said her Dad was a good singer with a nice base voice, and would be asked to sing at family gatherings, along with her mother and uncles, but her father's voice was the best. They had a good collection of classical records and enjoyed beautiful music, which Mum, and Dad also, did throughout their lives. She said as a child she did tap dancing and sang in a choir. She has always loved to sing and it made me happy in recent years to hear her singing to songs on the TV. And she was a great dancer. Mum said she was in the Rangers (like the Girl Guides) and the netball team (like basketball) at school. She did volunteer work as a nursing assistant. Though she did not have a lot of higher education, Mum liked to say she always had a lot of common sense!
Indeed our Mum was very creative artistically. As we know, she worked for her father's professional photography business, doing retouching of the actual negatives and also coloring of the photographs by hand, which was very detailed, precise work. In his "Audrey's Story" Dad said she worked very hard, sitting for hours retouching the photographs, and then, during the war years, would continue retouching in the evening in their family air raid shelter, and this with the ever present threat of German planes flying overhead. She and her Dad were members of the Birmingham Professional Photographers Association, and attended a number of photography conventions. They were once in a play together about photographers in heaven, dressed as angels. Now she is our angel in Heaven.
And Mum kept up her artistic talents in later years. I found a business card of hers which must have been in the early years of her marriage, which said "Audrey Ward, Decorative Painting, Custom Orders Taken.” And we all know of the many beautiful hand painted ceramics she did over the years. My brother Jim must have gotten his artistic talents from her.
Mum served her country honorably during the war. In England, because so many of the men were away in the service, the women were called up to work in the Women's Land Army. She had said she had a choice to go into the Women's Air Force, Army, or Land Army. She chose the Land Army, which she joined at the age of 20, as she preferred not to go overseas and also liked being outside working. She said it was very hard work - stacking bails of hay, driving tractors, and picking potatoes, brussel sprouts and other vegetables, and as Dad said - with her bare hands, nourished with a breakfast of only oatmeal, a tablespoon of milk, and no sugar, as food, and many other things, were rationed in England during the war years.
And of course, Mum and Dad's beautiful love story and 67 1/2 years of marriage began when they met during the war when Mum was in the Women's Land Army and Dad was a Staff Sergeant in the U.S. Army. Dad tells in his "Audrey's Story" how in 1944, at a tea dance held in a beautiful country mansion taken over by the Red Cross, he met "a cute, precious girl" and how beautiful and sweet she was. Dad was very impressed with her dancing saying "Audrey was a great dancer. She really could Jitterbug." And he wished he had a video tape of her dancing. He also said she was very serious and conscientious, and with a sweet innocent nature. He goes on to say "As weeks and months passed, I found myself falling deeper and deeper in love with Audrey, in love with her personality, sweetness, sincerity, sense of fair play, and precious looks, topped with a smile that would appeal to all." Dad said how their wedding day on February 11, 1945 was cold and snowy, but the warmth of their love neutralized that, and he would never forget Audrey walking towards him, how radiant, precious, and lovely she looked. Some time later Mum was honored at a special dinner for war brides. There is a beautiful photo there from this dinner, along with Dad, and Mum's parents.
Our Mum was sensitive and gentle (a beautiful thing which the world needs more of). She cared very much about her family, and especially could not bare cruelty to children or animals, which when she saw on the news or ads for the ASPCA would upset her very much. She loved pretty, sweet, delicate things, and her favorite color was pink (which represents love and the heart energy center, chakra).
But she was also very strong and courageous too (and in fact the name Audrey means strong). For example, she was 5 months pregnant with me when she came over on the ship from England in March 1946 to join Dad in the U.S., and though the sea was very rough and other women were getting sea sick, Mum did not get sea sick at all. On the contrary, after all that food rationing in England, she was enjoying full meals with delight! And she was taking care of some of the other young women who were sick, as well as their babies! Also, as Dad had said, it took courage at quite a young age, to leave her parents, her family and good friends, her country and a familiar way of life, even changing her religion, to come to a new country, with a different culture and sometimes very different way of doing things. I had found in an old wallet of hers a note she had written which said "Tough times never last, but tough people do" which she told me she found helpful. As our mother she was mostly kind and loving but she could also show "tough love" on occasion when it was needed. And of course it has taken courage and strength to deal with various illnesses, dementia, and the depression, anxiety and severe panic attacks she had experienced for years, which would be very frightening to her and to anyone. But she would just pray and ask Jesus to help her, and would get through them. For these and many other reasons I am so proud of you Mum. You have been an inspiration.
So thank you so much dear Mum for all your love and caring, patience and understanding. Thank you for giving me life. Thank you for showing such appreciation for things we did. Thank you for taking such good care of Jim and Steve and me, for guiding and supporting us, seeing us through sick days and other childhood problems - making boo-boos better and coughs and colds go away!
Thank you for loving Dad with all your heart, taking good care of him, and for working as a waitress in a lovely restaurant early in your marriage so that he could finish his Boston College studies.
Thank you Mum for your many prayers for us all. I especially remember in more recent years, seeing you sitting on the edge of your bed each night before going to sleep, hunched over with the picture of Jesus (you had a new one but you can see how worn the old one is) and our photos in your hands, praying for each one of us individually, starting with Dad.
Thank you Mum, and Dad, for fun times and laughter, for heart warming holiday celebrations on Thanksgiving and Christmas, with your delicious meals. Even though you often did not have enough confidence in yourself or your cooking, it was always delicious. And Easter bunnies and Easter baskets full of goodies. And for family vacations in beautiful England, Wales, and Italy, and at Cape Cod and Disneyworld in Florida. Thank you for wonderful times I remember from childhood - As a kid I remember in the summer riding our bikes with my Mum and other mothers and daughters in the neighborhood. And neigborhood block parties, so much fun all these things were.
Thank you for good times watching "Dancing with the Stars" and "American Idol", and Andrea Bocelli, Andre Rieu, and other wonderful music programs on PBS. And “Call The Midwife”, “Downtown Abbey” and good movies. How you laughed at that funny one with Meryl Streep about that singer with the horrible voice! And beautiful and sacred Christmas Eves singing carols together and watching Midnight Mass. Even when you had dementia you could still remember the words to various songs we would sing together. How I will miss all that with you my sweet Mummy. One time when someone was singing "There's a Place for Us, Somewhere", or Carol King and James Taylor singing "You've Got A Friend" on PBS, you had tears in your eyes telling me that Dad and you used to sing these to each other. And how much you missed Dad.
Thank you too for your compassion and love for animals and birds, you and Dad taking such good care of various pet dogs, cats, and birds over the years, including my dear parrot Bobbi, and some homeless cats you used to feed in one of the neighborhoods. Thank you Mum for all these and so much more. Thank you being our Mum, Nana, Great Nana, and Dad's beloved wife. We all love you and miss you Mum, so very much.
*And now our Sweet English Rose still grows and blooms on the other side, a lovely flower in God's heavenly garden.* For as we know, there is no death really, it is just a changing of form, and you are with us in our hearts and memories forever. Where there is love, we are never parted. It is the Love that we take with us to our next life. God bless you Mum, Dad, and all of our precious family.
Amara Patricia Ward