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Tribute to My Mother, Joyce Shepherd

Joyce Shepherd
Photo by Helen, just a month or so ago

My mother, Joyce Shepherd, passed on peacefully in her sleep last week, 98 years young, embraced by her daughter. God bless her soul.

My sister, Anna, read the following poem at her funeral yesterday...

You can shed a tear

You can shed a tear that she is gone,
Or you can smile because she lived.

You can close your eyes and pray she will come back,
Or you can open them and see all that she has left.

Your heart can be empty because you cannot have her,
Or it can be full of love that you have shared.

You can turn your back on tomorrow and live yesterday,
Or you can be happy for tomorrow because of yesterday.

You can remember only that she has gone,
Or you can cherish her memory and let it live on.

You can cry and close your mind; be empty and turn your back.
Or you can do what she would want: open your eyes, love and go on.

And this is the tribute I paid to my mother...

My mother asked me, last time we were together, to particularly thank the family members who have regularly visited her and kept her company, and sorted out her personal affairs so well…. Anna and Adrian, Clive and Sue, Helen and Eric, alongside Fran, Rita and Liz. And also to thank her carer, Natalie, who looked after her so kindly.

I remember the last Christmas, just before her health deteriorated so badly, Nicole and I stayed with Mum for a week, and she was happy and smiling, with a paper hat and all, and sharing presents, and of course watching Emmerdale Farm. The family from Brighton visited on Boxing Day and that was a great recent memory with Mum.

My mother wasn’t much of a church-goer in the last 30 years, but she consciously followed Christ’s teaching: to love your neighbor as yourself. For her that was not so difficult, since she truly was a loving person.

A wonderful wife and mother too, really. There’s a quote: “A house is made of brick and stone. A home is made of love alone.” My mother made a wonderful home, and I'll be forever grateful.

It’s strange, a mother is both her child’s best critic, since she knows them so well; at the same time she is their strongest supporter. Mum always had faith in the meaning and purpose of her children's lives, she always supported us. She’s been like an oasis in our lives, that we can always return to and be welcomed without judgment. Of course, we’ll miss that.

We’ve been so fortunate to have had Joyce in our lives. Do you know, during over 60 years, I have never once seen my mother angry. Not like my father and myself - we get annoyed quite easily - but my mother, never - ever. That says something about her peaceful heart. It’s why people loved her so much.

Of course, we feel a tremendous sense of loss; it’s hard to imagine life continuing without my mother being there, in her way at the center of things. She was always ready with a hug, a kiss and her enchanting smile. And her unique sense of humor.

Sitting in that chair of hers like the Queen, regal and elegant in her living room, decorated always by flowers that reflected her own beauty. For she was indeed a beautiful woman, in so many ways. And she was sharp, mentally, right up to her final weeks, and determined to remain independent.

We’ve been so fortunate to have had Joyce in our lives. I’ll miss her always but… as we know, love never dies.

Joyce will be with Arthur now, and her son Tony and her mother Grace - that’s what I believe anyway, which gives me comfort.

There again, my father believed we live on through the influence we have created within our family and in the world, and the good we have done. That is an inspiring point of view and I believe that too. My mother certainly lives on in that case.

You know, tears are liquid love. So it’s an appropriate time for tears today... but also to celebrate her life as well.

You’re here because you love my mother, and she certainly loved you in her very special way and still does.

When I say that I will miss her dearly, I’m sure I speak for you too.

This message was received warmly by the many family who attended, plus close friends. It was a hard time and yet the experience has pulled our family closer together and we are all positive moving forward, knowing my mother will always be there in the wings. Love never dies. The ceremony was conducted by the Reverend Canon Clay Knowles, who was so welcoming and empathic, a credit to his profession.

The following Podcast includes the above tribute. This is followed by selections from a part of the Trans4mind site called Is There Life After Death? And then an article I wrote called The Wheel of Life. Listen here...

Tribute to Joyce Shepherd (1917-2015)

Peter Shepherd is the founder and producer of the Trans4mind personal development website and author of 'Daring to be Yourself.' He edits and publishes the Inspiring Quotes of the Week and with a team of colleagues has recently launched the amazing Trans4mind Personal Development Training. Get in touch with Peter here.

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