I really did not want to be up here addressing funeral guests last time when my father’s service was here. And cannot believe we are all back here again so soon!
Over the past two years my mum has shown us exactly what she was made of: determination, focus, love and those hugs.
After losing dad – her life-partner and comrade-in arms – or as my aunt Jill put it: the other half of a comfortable, yet robust, pair of slippers – she forged on. Looking for the positive things in life and continuing the revolutionary struggle.
I feel cheated and angry that just as we were feeling that the new normal – the normal without dad – was not so bad, all this happened. Yet I know that, although it was quick, she was content and it was peaceful. She, like dad, had no regrets. She lived a full life, a life dedicated to the cause she believed in and to the family she loved.
I may feel cheated that they have both gone, but I will always be privileged to have had such amazing parents; privileged to have been born into a house full of love, of collective working, of mutual respect, of books and as well as a lot of other things.
My ma not only gave me the best start in life but continued to inspire and educate me throughout.
She started her life on the Quantocks and with determination got to university in London, which was where she met my dad. Although at that point was not particularly fond of the anorak type!
Her religious background took her to Tanzania as we’ve heard. It was there that her eyes were opened, seeing the difference between what Christianity was claiming to bring and what communist China was actually bringing. She also saw the spirit of resistance. All this started her questioning the status quo and looking for answers elsewhere.
When she returned to London she met up with dad again. He had similarly begun to look for answers in revolutionary politics. Fortunately for me this time round she was much keener on him, anorak and all.
They also met Maysel, Harpal and Ella who between them developed a strong unity, and to forge the path towards building a genuine communist party in Britain.
Being a founder member of the CPGB-ML and seeing over the last ten years the party go from strength to strength gave her great strength and assurance in her last months. She knew her life’s work would be continued by the many comrades who are filling our ranks.
No job was too small or big for her. She knew she was working as part of a team. Not just her and dad, but with the rest of the party, all working to the same end.
Her motivation and dedication to that cause was second to none. She never shied away from the tasks at hand. With her trademark apron on she’d sort out the hall for meetings, do layout for Lalkar, coordinate printing and collation, organise Stalin Society meetings … the list goes on!
She was someone who led by example – doing the work that needed to be done. With a friendly bit of nagging of others along the way!
And we will follow that example and make her proud.
She was not only a remarkably focused, intelligent and determined communist she was also Aunty Iris to many. She’d be the one chasing the kids around the garden at family gatherings or indeed around chairs at the end of a meeting.
I know she thoroughly enjoyed being Aunty Iris. Enjoyed the laughs and hugs that she shared with my cousins; and brothers and sisters; and in more recent years with all their kids. She shared her love and enthusiasm, making them all feel at home around her.
As for being a grandma, I don’t think she realised quite how much she was going to love it.
If there is one thing she was not good at, it was taking time out for herself. Fred helped her with that. He tested her focus on the tasks at hand, jumping the list of priority jobs like nothing else. She would drive down the M4 almost at the drop of a hat to spend time with her little Fred.
Finally as my mum – there is too much to say about how much I love, respect and enjoy my ma.
She was the most amazing woman in my life. The person who I shared so much with; all the thoughts, feelings, ideas and ambitions that brought us so close together. Most of our quality time was shared as a consequence of our political work together – something that neither of us regretted and in reality brought us even closer.
She always encouraged and pushed me, more through the example she set, than with pressure. Despite being constantly active, she always managed to find time to make me feel special; that no matter how busy she was I was in her mind and in her heart.
I will miss her immensely. I’ll miss her rolling around on the floor with Fred; marching with the buggy on demos; print runs; paddling moments whenever we’re near the sea; stockings at Christmas; meetings at Sak hall … there are too many moments …
But I’ll especially miss her amazing hugs and our chats that could go on for hours!
Ma, you have always made me proud, inspired me and surrounded me in love.
I will do my best to continue your remarkable example and hope that I too will get to the end with the happiness, satisfaction and contentment from the contribution made with my life.
I do not want to say goodbye, so as you and granddad would say… cheerio! I love you and will continue to raise the red flag for you, until we win!