Jean Agnes Butler

October 19, 1926 - September 12, 2010

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Jean Agnes Butler

Eulogy delivered at her funeral service at the Garden of England Crematorium, Bobbing, on the morning of October 19, 2010

Mum, this would have all been a bit late in the morning for you wouldn’t it ? You always managed to get up about three hours before anyone else and by now you would have cleaned half the house, been up to the post office, shops and newsagents while the rest of us were having a bit of a lie-in. And then you’d still make me breakfast and bring it to me in bed. Now mornings are different. I wake up and then I remember. The silence is deafening.

As far as I can remember you were always doing things for other people starting of course from when you took on me and my sister Penny at a time when adoptive parents were granted extra time to decide if they really wanted to accept “half coloured” children, as we were called then. Decades before anyone had thought of political correctness, you would stand up to people who used words like “wog” and coon.”

We both aways knew we were adopted but it never mattered at all because we knew we had such a great mum and dad. I know you wanted even more children but we were quite a handful. In particular me with my sickness as an infant. You could have given me up, but in fact you gave me everything I needed.

You were an expert at looking after people. From your own parents, their friends, your children, your husband, sister, neighbours, relatives and residents at Bartons Court care home where you worked for more than 20 years. All of us fell within the Jean Butler zone where we would be watched over, cared for and fed whether we liked it or not. We liked it.

When we talked about winning the lottery I can’t remember you saying how you’d treat yourself but how you might help out someone else. We never did win the jackpot, but it never mattered because you and my dad worked so hard that Penny and I never missed out on what we needed. And I don’t mean just money, you took the time to teach us to read and count before we even went to school.

You deserved luxury but were never interested in it. Your favourite shopping expedition was to go to “Iceland” supermarket in Sheerness and then on to “Black Cat” discout shop to buy a few more essentials at bargain prices. Thank you for leaving me with enough tinned goods and cleaning products to last me until I’m 60.

You were terrified of mice, but you weren’t frightened to confront someone who you felt was being cruel to a child. You’d shout at kids outside when their football went into the garden, but if one of them fell over and hurt themselves you’d be out there again to see that they were okay. You’d turn away from pictures of snakes, but when a mugger attacked you at the age of 77, you fought back.

When illness set in you always played it down even to doctors. You were more interested in asking them about their children and their travels than you were discussing your own problems. So it hurts me now to say that not one of them managed to get in touch with their condolences. But then they are from a different era to yours when people had more time for one another.

Thank you for giving me a link to those kinder times. I can’t care, cook and clean like you did but I’m a lot better at it than I would have been if you had not been my mum. I’ll never stop thanking you for all you did for me, right up to being so bright and happy and apparently healthy on my 50th, just a few days before you left this world. To the end you barely asked for anything in return. At the hospital I would ask, do you want anything. “No,” you would say. Are you sure. “Positive,” you would confirm. So all I could do for you in the end was hold your hand. And now tell everyone about my extraordinary, unforgettable and irreplaceable mum.