A tiny Methodist church in west Cumbria hosted a funeral for my Mam for over three times the expected amount of people.
Here is the eulogy I wrote for this very popular woman, my Mam:
1957. A year that could have passed as ‘uneventful’; it was quiet, calm, and with everything in its place. It almost made it to the end like this, but then December struck and with it came a sound like no other, chaos that was unmatchable, ideas that were endless and an energy that would be forever unbridled. Because, in December 1957, Lorraine Harper was born.Lorraine would prove to be a devoted daughter, the most supportive colleague, the best of friend, the perfectly imperfect, loving wife and most magical of mothers any child could wish for.
As a daughter she was loyal, grateful and compassionate. Always taking the advice and guidance from her own mam, Evelyn, and growing into inseparable friends, it is no shock that Lorraine cared so selflessly when Evelyn became ill. It is this bond that shaped who she would become. They don’t make daughters like that anymore.
As a colleague she was more than just the words on a contract. Nowhere in her job description would it say ‘make monthly brownies and mince pies for Christmas, swing by a customer’s houses if they can’t collect their books, always be the last one out of the building and always have an unnecessarily large bag full of things people may or may not want’. Her time as the beating heart of Moorclose Library, soon earned the building the title of ‘The Noisiest Library in West Cumbria’. As we all know Lorraine loved to talk; to chat, to gas, to have a cuppa and a crac, but more than this she loved to listen. It is no wonder why she worked in a library because she beamed with every story that was shared with her – if she heard excitement, she celebrated with you; if there was struggle in your voice, she met it with support; if your story was of achievement, she would tell it to others with so much pride; if you needed to be heard she was silent and if you could not find the words she would say it for you. Whether it was for colleagues or customers, she held them all in the same regard and would always try to do the best by them. They don’t make colleagues like that anymore.
The reason that Lorraine never stayed still long enough to warm a seat was because of her friends. She was a tapestry of all the different friendships she had forged and cherished each gift that came from those relationships, but what she never gave herself credit for was for the gifts she gave so generously that will stay in the hearts and minds of all of her friends forever. She was always ‘just nipping’, ‘just popping’, ‘just running’, ‘just jumping in the car’, ‘just making’, ‘just baking’, ‘just knitting’, ‘just taking’, ‘just giving’ to or from her friends. She would give you the last penny in her pocket and the last second in her day – so there was no ‘just’ about it. Because to her that’s what being a friend meant. It was a commitment and one she took very seriously. So much so that she would often tie herself in knots trying to please others, but at the end of it all, it was what made her happy and what made her her. They don’t make friends like that anymore.
Everything that has been mentioned runs at a different pace to that of her husband who she was utterly devoted to and who gave her that sparkle in her eye. Ken and Lorraine Harper married in 1981 and have since been the yin to each other’s yang; the club to the golf ball, the book to the shelf and the bulb to the knicker drawer. In short they are the most successful couple in history. Why? Because what kept them together was their shared dream, that each of them held and worked at equally – of being in love, to be the best they could be for one another, to make a house a home and to have a family they were proud of. It’s quite rare to say the dreams do come true, but for them it did. They don’t make wives like that anymore.
Lorraine mothered with passion, determination and with an unfaltering desire to give her children, Laura and Matthew, a world of their own. She led as a role model and nurtured as a best friend. Growing up, she ruled out words such as ‘can’t’ for her children, she taxied them to all their different hobbies and clubs (which she then nearly always ended up volunteering for as well), she never missed a performance, parents evening or presentation – the pride she felt from her children was what put the smile on her face, but also the total admiration for their mother, was and still is what puts a smile on Laura and Matthew’s faces. And what offspring couldn’t smile at the mam who swears at vegetables, who elongates birthdays because she can’t remember where she hid the presents, who cries at Chris Rear songs in the supermarket, who fills 75% of a house with artefacts from years gone by, who is the first to like, comment and share every one of their posts on Facebook. Also, her hugs were the best! They don’t make mams like that anymore.
2016. The world is back to being a little bit quieter, a touch calmer, but with everything moved completely out of its place, because Lorraine Harper has been here…and don’t we know it. She has graced us all with her noise, chaos, ideas, energy and love and so we can never go back to how we were before Lorraine. Yes, the mould was well and truly broken when Lorraine was made and yes, they may not make daughters, colleagues, friends, wives or mothers like that anymore, but we all have a piece of her in our hearts and we must keep that glowing, keep her ways going and in that way she will go on forever.