A Poem read at Mary's Funeral


T ell me not, in mournful numbers,
Life is but an empty dream!-
For, the soul is dead that slumbers,
And things are not what they seem.

Life is real! Life is earnest!
And the grave is not its goal;
Dust thou art, to dust returnest,
Was not spoken of the soul.

Not enjoyment, and not sorrow,
Is our destined end or way;
But to act, that each to-morrow
Find us farther than to-day.

Art is long, and Time is fleeting,
And our hearts, though stout and brave,
Still, like muffled drums, are beating
Funeral marches to the grave.

In the world's broad field of battle,
In the bivouac of Life,
Be not like dumb, driven cattle!
Be a hero in the strife!

Trust no Future, howe'er pleasant!
'Let the dead Past bury its dead!
Act, - act in the living Present!
Heart within, and God o'erhead

Lives of great men all remind us
We can make our lives sublime,
And, departing, leave behind us
Footprints on, the sands of time;

Footprints, that perhaps another,
Sailing o'er life's solemn main,
A forlorn and shipwrecked brother,
Seeing, shall take heart again.

Let us, then, be up and doing,
With a heart for any fate;
Still achieving, still pursuing,
Learn to labor and to wait.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow


A description of Mary Arnold's Funeral

Mary Arnold was cremated on Friday July 18th in accordance with her requests.

The funeral cortege left her Flat at Starley Road for the memorial service at St Barbera's Church Earsldon. It consisted of a Rolls Royce Hearse, followed by her own Ford Limousine (which she had expected would one day serve for this purpose) A second old fashioned Rolls Royce Limousine brought up the rear.

The Church was full with friends and colleagues, including the Lord Mayor and several councillors and officers, wishing to pay their respects. There were also Members of Parliament and ex Members of Parliament present not to mention many disabled people who had known her. It was a good job the church was accessible or she would have risen up and given us all a lecture about it otherwise.

The service was taken by the rev. Tim Brooke, who had known Mary through her work for Arthritis Care having been president of the association.

There were two hymns. The 23rd Psalm and "Now thank we all our God" to give thanks for Mary's life and work. Her eldest son Laurence read a poem, selected by her youngest Marcus entitled a "Psalm of life" by Longfellow, which was extraordinarily appropriate.

The reading was taken from the Beatitudes which was very appropriate as she had never asked for any reward or recognition for her work while she was alive.

The reading was given by Norma Jardine, secretary of Coventry Council of Disabled People. She had lost her own mother a year ago, and inspite of all had bravely accompanied Mary into hospital.

After the service Mary was cremated privately at the Canley Crematorium, which ajoins the road where she had grown up. Her ashes were scattered over the same rosebed as her own mothers as she wished and Laurence played a phrase from "There is a Green Hill far away" as he had promised, years before, but not expected to have to do so soon.

During the committal two tapes were played, which were requests she had asked to be played whenever she was in hospital. "Memories" from the musical cats and "Dem Dry Bones", which added a sense of humour. Anyone who has seen Dennis Potter's Singing Detective will remember the scene where the doctors and nurses burst into song at the bedside.
It never quite happened that way when Mary was in hospital, but she had many amusing experiences over the years.

Mary is commemorated on her husbands headstone and by a plantation of trees at Barbour Wood, Gloucestershire. the epitaph is the same, chosen by a friend "In memory of Mary Arnold A Champion who fought for others"





Site Navigator

 Mary Arnold's original page describing her adventures with an unusual electric wheelchair.
The whole of the political and voluntary community in Coventry turned out for her funeral, these are some of their tributes 
 Mary in her own words, various writings and thoughts on living with a disability
 What the papers said, Mary was seldom out of the news
Mary's last campaign, to get on an NHS trust board, including her C.V. and her thoughts on the health service
A selection of photographs

Copyright 1998 Laurence Arnold
This page was created on, Sunday October 25th 1998,
Revised Saturday April 28th 2001