“Look at the birds of the air, they neither sow, nor reap, nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Or consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not neither do they spin, yet even Solomon, in all his glory was not arrayed as one of these.”
While I was thinking about Joan a few days ago, these words of Jesus came to mind. Look at the birds of the air; consider the lilies of the field. They say something about the natural order, the beauty of creation, there around us to enjoy if we look; the sheer natural, instinctive beauty of the world and its God-given creativity. They came to mind, because Joan valued and loved the world around and was herself instinctively creative, ; self-taught- it all came naturally her enjoyment in design, aesthetics, whether making clothes for her children, cooking, or painting, gardening, poetry, or her love of the Derbyshire countryside, where she went on holiday as a child, or her many dogs. The potential creativity, which is in all of us, was realized instinctively by Joan, and became one of the wellsprings of her life.
And it was self-taught, inherent in her. For as a child, she did not have the opportunity to complete her education. She was born (in 1923, the third of 7 children at Eccles near Manchester. There was not much money around, and she had to leave school, which she loved, at the age of 14 to get a job. But she also loved adventure, and the war was to help here and was the cause of her meeting another love. As a member of the ATS, she was posted to Italy, near Naples, where she met the Sergeant in charge of her section Clifford Richardson. They were married in Worsley Church in 1947. By the time the children came along they had moved to Pboro, as Clifford was working for Baker Perkins. Jenny was born in 1948 at Thorpe Hall, and Chris in 1950 at the gables.
As the children grew up, so Joan was able to pursue more actively her love of art- she became a member of Pboro Arts Society, exhibiting with them for many years. Prince Picture.
The family moved from Queens Garden to park Road, opposite Bridget, and in 1984, moved to Ailsworth, . Joan quickly grew to love the village, people and community which made them so welcome.- she joined the WI, The Gardeners, and Evergreen. This circle of friends was to be such a great support to her after Clifford’s death.
Most of us probably thought of Joan as a lovely Lady. But of course there was more to her than that. She was indeed sociable; she would talk to anybody, with no inhibitions about communicating with people. She was adventurous, with a good sense of humour, and more strongwilled than people might think as her complete recovery from cancer showed. Someone said that she had the instincts of a good foreman., with a clear idea of what she wanted and how to do it. She was capable and competent, broadminded, without pretension or affectation.
She was always active, and her mind, which loved quizzes, word games, reference books and dictionaries, was active to the end. I shall always see her in my mind’s eye, at Evergreen, sitting at the table by the door in the village hall, playing scrabble, as she did with everything else, with enthusiasm. For she was an enthusiast for life, absorbed by her creativity and activity. And even as this life came to an end, she found good things in it. While she was ill, staying at Bourne, she had a chance to see more of her grandchildren Emily and Sarah, whom she loved. And she was not just a lovely lady, she was dignified. She died with her family around her, having been quietly anointed the night before she died, prepared for the end which I am sure she knew was coming.
Of course we are sad at her parting; none more so than jenny and Chris and Jenny and Emily and Sarah. They and we have every right to be so. But we also give thanks for a good life, well-lived, a life made the most of and lived with enthusiasm and enjoyment.
I started with words said by Jesus, and would like to draw to an end, quoting form the same text. Do not be anxious for the morrow. See the sparrows, the birds of the air. Sold for so little, yet your heavenly father knows and cares when even they fall to the ground. How much more will he care for you, whose very hairs on your head are numbered by him, so well he knows us. Today we commend Joan to this same heavenly Father, creator of the natural order, which she loved so much, the giver of life around us, and of our lives too. We commit Joan to his loving presence, to newer and greener pastures, with confidence in Our Lords words that death is not the end, but a new beginning. May she rest in peace