When I first came to know Beryl, I suppose I thought of her as a lovely elderly lady, from an old village family, modest, and desperately proud of her two sons, Clyde and David and their achievements, having been happily married, in their dancing years to Larry, her formerly Scottish soldier husband.

But as I got to know her better, especially during her illness, I soon found out there was a lot more to her than that. I wasn’t’ wrong about her in my first impressions but I had seen only part of the picture. I was to discover that she was intelligent, and thoughtful; that she could be very direct, that she liked her independence;  and that there was deep within her a single-minded determination ( I wouldn’t say stubborn but her sons might). She was determined that she was not going to leave her home, however ill she was. I also discovered, and maybe she did for herself, deep reserves of courage. She knew how ill she was; she could hardly see, and barely hear, yet she was determined to look after herself. And her wish to die at home was made possible by this determination, but also I think because of the help and good friends and neighbours; people like her niece Bubbles, across the road; people like Jim and Tess Thompson Bell; she had in the past been a good neighbour herself, and I like to think that this was repaid by her neighbours. And above all made possible by the care of her two beloved sons.

I also discovered where these sons got their brains from. In the days when many village girls would probably have gone into service, Beryl went to the Commercial College, and learnt secretarial work and office management. She enjoyed her work, and was quietly proud of her own proficiency,. And she gave this up to look after Clyde and David. For at heart she was family oriented. She encouraged Clyde and David, she gave them opportunities and time, and in turn they  gave her a good deal of quiet but proud satisfaction.

She was also a good raconteur, with a fascinating and sometimes moving fund of stories about village life, and I shall miss her stories. She told me about the night in Nov 1940 she and her family heard the droning of aircraft and they went outside into the road at Stock’s Hill to hear and see wave upon wave of aircraft flying due SW overhead. They knew some poor souls were going to catch it that night. A few hours later the sky to the West was bright orange and red with flames reflected in the sky, and the next morning they heard on the wireless that Coventry had been destroyed by the Germans. But there were also happier stories. She and Larry loved dancing, but her dancing life began before that as a child. In their home at Splash Lane where she and her 7 brothers and sisters lived there was a shed in the garden for the boys to sleep in. But in the evenings this shed, with the help of a wind-up gramaphone and friends became their private dance hall.

She was a wonderful mother, she loved her extended family , she was hardworking, good at home making, but she was also a spirited lady with a good sense of humour, who enjoyed a challenge, who liked her little victories as fellow members of the WI would have found out when she was their secretary and treasurer.

I also discovered that she was a woman with a deep, traditional Christian faith. She always came to church here, if one of her sons was around to bring her. She was grateful that God had spared her time in hospital; that it was going to be possible to die at home. And she met her death calmly and peacefully. When I annointed her and said the last prayers with her she understood exactly what was happening and her life ebbed away, as she had lived, with courage in the face of adversity, courage perhaps she did not know she had herself, but also with dignity.

As some-one who had cared for others, she did not find it easy at first , to be looked after, but I know that she was really grateful to all who helped her, that their company was completely appreciated. Things have now changed. She who looked after others is now to be cared for herself. A home-maker herself she is now in a home made ready for her. She who prepared a place for others, is now in a place prepared for her, a place in the house of our heavenly father.. She knew discomfort during her illness but her body is at rest free from all pain. Her faith reflected her personality; it was direct , honest and straightforwrad, with a strong sense of right and wrong, and strong in the face of adversity . She has mourned, now she will be comforted;, As a child of God she will be blessed, as shall we all when we, in our turn look on the face of our heavenly father. We let her go with sadness, accompanied by our prayers, but with confidence in the faith that was hers and is ours. May she rest in peace. Amen.