The stand had emptied along with the sounds of 'Ernie' by Benny Hill. This was one of his party pieces and recently he'd been singing it a lot. The line 'Poor old Ernie, he was only 52, he didn't want to die,' seems very poignant now.
Dom joined us in the car now as we followed Clive on his final journey. The adrenalin was still pumping through my veins at an accelerated speed and my chattering continued. Once again we seemed to drive through a green part of Leeds (he loved nature and the countryside) and it added to the somewhat serene and calm mood. At the crematorium gate was a sign giving opening times, parking details, etc. Underneath the information was a sign which read:-
'One way system'.
I could not stop myself from giggling!
I wasn't sure who had followed us to the crematorium but when I arrived Tony introduced me to the person organising the music and I explained what we needed.
Then my Clive was carried for the final time and placed centre stage again - where he loved to be. We followed him listening to 'our' song by Savage Garden, 'Truly, Madly, Deeply'. We had vowed to 'stand with you on a mountain; I want to bathe with you in the sea, I want to feel this way forever until the sky falls down on me.'
We had danced on a very memorable night to this. I closed my eyes and imagined his arms around me, the gentle breeze blowing my dress, the smell of his Mont Blanc aftershave. I chose to replace the negative emotions I could easily have allowed to engulf me with happy ones. That is how I stayed strong.
Once seated, Paul, his nephew, stood and spoke of his love for his uncle on behalf of the family. It was a perfect tribute. Clive would have been proud of him as we all were.
We had felt it right that Clive had the last word so his sister Lynn read the message he had left in his will:
Finally I say this:-
There are far too many people for me to thank individually. They know who they are.
It has been an absolute privilege to exist on this amazing planet for as long as I have. I consider myself fortunate to have known some amazing people and seen some wonderful things. If anyone ever wonders how I would describe this life in one word it would be….
On the day that I finally leave this planet it will be said that:
"Clive Gott has gone.
The world is a better place for having him visit.
We are glad that he came."
The world is a better place for having him visit.
We are glad that he came."
As the curtains closed to the sound of Frank Sinatra 'Strangers in the Night', chosen by Clive for the 'Dooo be Dooo be Dooo' I had to gulp and hold in a massive wave of 'Nooooooooooo! Not my Clive'. I squeezed Dom's hand tightly and Rod's and let the music flow over me. Lynn and I looked at each other and we waited to sing the 'Dooo be Dooo be Dooo' - which we did.
The final track was 'Easy' by Lionel Richie. The year before last Clive had spoken about having a 'this is it moment'. The feeling you get when all you have wanted suddenly happens. The realisation of it fills you will joy and contentment. He used this to inspire others and based the introduction on the Halifax advert from years ago when a cool guy living in an apartment saunters down to the 'hole in the wall' to get cash so he can have an 'Easy, like Sunday morning' time. He related this to a day the summer before last when he had been cleaning his convertible car on the front of the home he loved, the sun was shining on his colourful garden, his dog happily laying on the lawn. The front door open and out stepped me with a couple of cups of coffee. Bam! That was 'it'. That was his moment of 'This is it'. This is what he had always wanted. His vision had come true, like mine had for today. He timed this perfectly to the guitar rift and 'ooh' in 'Easy'. I remember him doing this for the first time for Forever Living Products in Dublin in December 2009. He was incredible.
What is your vision and what are you going to do to achieve it?
Thanks to Dom again for putting this together for me. He may have gone in body but he will never leave me or the magical memories we made.
We walked out of the crematorium just in time to see a small, green car pull into the car park. It was my brother! He'd been to a different crematorium!!!! Bless him.
Back in the big car Kevin was completely forgiven though as the reason he had been late for Dominic this morning was because I'd asked him to get some pictures printed for me to have on the story board at Headingley. In the car we were able to look at them. These were the selection Dom has used above. So we smiled and reminisced en route back to join everyone else.
Back to Headingley the sun was now shining. family and close friends had a quieter few minutes for a drink and bite to eat in the Board room then joined the rest of Clive's supporters in the comfortable Taverner's suite. It had windows overlooking both the rugby and cricket pitches, a bar, and a variety of comfortable seating areas on different levels. It was perfect and so much cosier than a 'normal' function room. But this was no ordinary function, was it?
The buzz in the room was more like a party than a funeral. People were chatting, drinking, eating, laughing. Perfect. Exactly what Clive would have wanted and I agreed. He always said he would have wanted to be at this funeral! Conversations were very much around him! I seemed to spend the next few hours being warmly hugged and immersed in a sea of 'Clive talk'. I loved it! I knew my Clive was an amazing man but this just confirmed it. I know he had been an awkward so and so at times, especially in his earlier years but everyone that spoke to me commented how happy and content he had been the last years with me. That was comforting to hear.
Thank you to everyone who came and although I tried my best to speak to you all, it was impossible.
I fully appreciate the efforts many of you made to attend, taking time off work, away from family, traveling long distances. And to those of you who could not attend but wanted to, thank you for thinking of Clive, myself and Clive's family.
As the last few people departed Clive's brother-in-law Rod asked me if I would go back into the stadium with him just for a moment. At first i put if off. excuses which Clive would have called 'balderdash' - I delegated tidying up and grabbed Rod by the hand. Clive's sudden departure has made me VERY aware not to put things off that you want to do.
We wandered into the deserted rugby stadium and stood by the seats where Clive and I had watched every home game (give or take a few) for the last couple of years. I had asked his niece to place a single rose on there for me that afternoon and there were others from herself, brother and parents. They looked stunning. I gave Rod a hug and when I opened my eyes they focused on a billboard for Guinness stating 'Brought to Life'. I smiled at the memory of Clive introducing me to Guinness in Dublin which I had drunk from a pint glass! Not the 'posh bird' image that Rod affectionately teases me about.
I felt the tears begin to prick but Rod then said Clive was still with us - we looked up and there amongst the rafters of the North Stand were some of the balloons I'd set off earlier. The tears abated.
The team at Headingley were superb. I didn't realise that I had made history by my request! They have scattered ashes at the ground before but never had a service. Clive would have been impressed.
He also made a strong point of giving credit where it was due, where customer service had been given far beyond expectations. We did not know when the celebration would end. It came to a natural close around 6.30 p.m. It was a shame when one of our speaking colleagues arrived just as we were all going. Then I heard of another lady who had made the journey, which had proved very challenging only to arrive and we had all gone. The staff at Headingley apparently let her into the grounds, made her tea and sandwiches and checked she was refreshed to make her journey home. That is what I call service. Gary and John be very proud of your team!
We packed up the cars and headed back to Tadcaster. I was still buzzing but with a sense of achievement. What a day! I also confess I had to unhook the basque - mission had been accomplished!
Back at home we got changed and had a pleasant evening with some family and close friends, had a Chinese take-away and cake! Again I thought of how much Clive would have enjoyed today. In a very strange way I had enjoyed it. Perhaps that is wrong? But I had seen many people who shared my grief about the loss of Clive which we all acknowledge. The celebration of his life was not about ignoring the deep sadness of his untimely death but CHOOSING to replace it with a different perspective that I for one found to be a comfort.
Perhaps in his death Clive Gott continues to inspire us and challenge us to do things differently? Who says we have to wear drab clothes and pull each other further down in despair? That just makes the negativity even worse. Instead he inspired me to share his abundance belief by giving flowers to others; the thank you cards instead of sympathy ones; the bright clothes and a 'party' feel to bring to an end the chapter of his time on the planet. We all respected his views and in doing so we have all contributed to a new way of thinking.
I haven't written my Celebration plan yet. Perhaps that will go on my 'to do' list. I would like to have my last day spent in a similar way to Clive. I want people to be glad that I came and for that to be the key message instead of sad I have gone. That's what we all did for Clive. Thank you for playing your role in that.
With the final visitors gone I flopped into bed and read some of the many beautiful cards and messages I had been given. Even though I was exhausted I was bursting to write my blog but tried to sleep, to no avail.
So I got up again but the was battery dead on the laptop.
Perhaps it was Clive saying to me,
'Enough baby. You did good. I adore you but sleep now.'
Snuggled up to the pillows placed where he used to, I closed my eyes.
N.B. Clive's products can be ordered via here.