Thou Shalt Not Honour Thy Mam
Barwick, Sandra, The Independent (London, England)
THE UNDISTINGUISHED brick church of Freckleton in Lancashire is now not only locked but alarmed. Those wishing for a peaceful place for spiritual reflection are relegated to the graveyard - and little peace will they find there.
This morning distressed and angry relatives of those who lie in this churchyard are due to appear at a consistory court of the Church of England. All they want is to put on the tombstones of those they love the names they called them in life: `Mum', `Mam', `Dad', `Nan', `Grandma', `Grannie'.
Millions of times a day these simple words are spoken in homes across this country, expressing love and closeness, family bonds, expressing - you might think - true Christian values.
This is not an issue confined to Freckleton, but a national one. The vicar of Freckleton, one Stephen Brian, cites Church of England guidelines on inscriptions and memorials, The Churchyards Handbook, in defence of the way he has acted towards recently bereaved members of his congregation. "An epitaph is a public document, and not a cosy one at that," intones this document. "Nicknames or pet-names ('Mum', `Dad', Ginger') inscribed in stone, would carry overtones of the dog cemetry unsuitable for the resting place of Christian men and women."
You may well wonder how suitable the mingled overtones of pompousness, prattishness and insult in this last sentence are for Christian men and women. But this, dear reader, is the official word on the subject.
Sylvia Kay, of Freckleton, has experienced its effects. Her husband, Stan, died suddenly in 1992. Their eldest son, Gary, ordered the small grey stone prescribed for those who have been cremated, and an inscription: "To the loving memory of a dearly loved husband and dad." "A few days later," she says, "the vicar called up. He said `I'm sorry, but I want "Dad" taken off and "father" putting down.' I was in a right state. We had the wording changed.
"It's really affected us. I've three children. Gary refused to get married there. Joanne won't go into the churchyard. She says, `It's not my Dad.' "
And then there is John Treacher. Mr Treacher is 75. He lives on a pension in a mobile home in Freckleton. After 43 years of marriage his wife, Doris, died last year. He took pounds 569 from their small savings to buy a tombstone fit for her.
"I wanted `Loving Memories of Doris, Loved Wife of …
Questia, a part of Gale, Cengage Learning. www.questia.com
Publication information: Article title: Thou Shalt Not Honour Thy Mam. Contributors: Barwick, Sandra - Author. Newspaper title: The Independent (London, England). Publication date: July 16, 1994. Page number: Not available. © 2009 The Independent - London. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All Rights Reserved.
This material is protected by copyright and, with the exception of fair use, may not be further copied, distributed or transmitted in any form or by any means.