100. Muffled drums and the last post

I haven’t written my blog for quite sometime, not since my dad’s funeral.  I think I have thrown myself back into family life, work, preparations for Christmas and being busy is a great diversion to thinking things through, and I use this blog as a way of drawing a line under events, and I wasn’t sure I wanted to do this as it seems final. However, it is time to write about Dad’s farewell.

When we arrived at Weston Mill Crem there was a sea of Green Berets to meet us.  One of my dad’s great friends was resplendent in tartan trews took mum by the arm and we walked past friends who had taken time out to celebrate dad’s life.  It was comforting to see my own friends too who gave a tender pat on the arm, a squeeze of the arm, a wan smile.  The chapel was packed, there was standing room only and some the mourners waited in the lobby where they could watch the funeral on a TV.

The coffin was resplendent with the Royal Marine Flag, dad’s beret, medals and bouquet of yellow roses.  As we walked in one of dad’s RM friends was beating a muffled drum which gave us the beat to enter in and make our way, past standard bearers with dipped flags and to the front of the chapel.  Trevor introduced the proceedings and welcomed the mourners, very soon my brother and I were invited up to read the Eulogy.  A deep breath and away we went, we read paragraph by paragraph, raised a few smiles, the odd chuckle and I managed to hold it together until the part where I had to speak about how well loved dad was – fortunately my brother could step in.

It was all very moving – we sang hymns, dad’s friends Trevor and Bob read prayers – one to absent brethren and the Royal Marines prayer.  We listened to Royal Marine music and at the end of the service the last post was played  by a Royal Marine bandsman. It was very poignant and everyone was in tears.  The finale was the Corries playing “To the land of Macleod” – the front two rows.. the family… we all sang between the tears as we walked out.

There is a no mans land being in limbo effect immediately after the service.  We were guided out to a patio area and the congregation came through and spoke to us.  So much kindness shown, so much love and respect for dad.

The next evolution was to go to the New Continental for the Wake.  Back in the fast blacks, a sense of relief that the service was over and that it had gone well.  We felt we’d done right by dad, followed the plan of the O group meeting 6 weeks before.  Dad’s wishes had been executed with military precision.

The driver of the fast black, Sean, told us that he too was a former military man and knew dad through the Royal Marines masonic lodge.  He was very sorry for our loss.

We were all very sorry for our loss and that the fight was over.  Dad was now in the Land of Macleod.

I will go, I will go
When the fighting is over
Tae the land of MacLeod
I left to be a soldier
I will go, I will go

The king’s son came along, he called us all together
Saying, Brave Highland men, you will fight for my father
I will go, I will go

I’ve a buckle tae my belt, a sword in my scabbard
A red coat on my back and a shilling in my pocket
I will go, I will go

When they put us all on board the lassies were singing
The tears came to their eyes when they heard the bells a-ringing
I will go, I will go

When we landed on that shore and saw the foreign heather we
We knew some would die and lie there forever
I will go, I will go

When we came back through the glen winter was turning
Our families in the snow and our homes they were burning
I will go, I will go

Author: fionaosmaston

I live in Plymouth, Devon with my husband Nick and near my parents Sandy and Sheena. Our three children, Marcus, Phoebe and Miles are grown up. I am a geographer and love teaching Geography. My current role is as an Assistant Vice Principal in an inner city comprehensive school where I lead on coaching and initial teacher training. In August 2017 I was diagnosed with invasive lobular carcinoma and following a skin sparing mastectomy and endrocrine/hormone treatment I am now awaiting a final reconstruction. These views are my own and writing this story has helped me come to terms with where I am in this interlude of life which has been dominated by breast cancer.

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