This week my mother passed away and we laid her beside my father, the love of her life. I am heartbroken; but it is not just me and my wife and my brother and sisters and their spouses; not just her adoring grandchildren and their partners and friends; nor even just the wider family circle. The funeral started late because of the queues of those who wanted to be there, older men with tears in their eyes, women who said they had lost their best friend. A neighbour in the glens quoted Ted Hughes on the death of his father-in-law – the cattle standing “in a new emptiness”. The formal tributes at the service were extraordinary and everyone had their own personal stories of her kindness and hospitality, her grace and encouragement, her patience and dignitiy and the quite remarkable warmth of her love. Little children sought her out; young mothers took her as a model for their lives; grief-stricken friends, neighbours and members of the congregation quietly whispered in my ear “you’ll never know how much she helped me over the years; no-one ever will.” For all who knew her, a light has gone out. It was not just the meaning of her name, it was the characteristic of her life. One phrase was on everyone lips. Time and again, from those who had known her a life-time and had seen her deal with all manner of challenges, to those who had met her only once. The little nurse on the ward knew her only in those last few days as she slipped away, but she said the same as those rugged hill farmers from the glens…..”she was lady”…….