The heart-warming funeral of my relative Ann Hutchison, on the 29th April this year at Daldowie Crematorium on the outskirts of Glasgow, was led by a spiritualist minister. Why had I never twigged until that moment that Ann was a spiritualist? She had often mentioned a spiritualist healer she attended regularly. She definitely believed in angels and spirits, and early on in our friendship she had presented me with a small glass angel to watch over me. She had picked up on spirits at the castle in certain locations, by clapping and then listening for the quality of echo that came back.
I had never once put together the pieces before, just assuming that these were aspects of the very warm and spiritual human being, that Ann was. Anyhow, the eulogy filled-in much of the fascinating background information on Ann that I never knew. I had first met her later in life, and only really saw Ann on her frequent trips to Balintore Castle over the last 10 or so years.
This is why I am writing an "in memorium" in this blog. Ann has very much been part of the restoration project, bringing endless saucepans of homemade food, duvets, heaters and anything that would make the excessively Spartan life at the castle more comfortable. Her generosity at times was overwhelming, but all I could do was say "thank you" and enjoy spending time together. She always brought enough food to feed the army of workers at the castle!
|Ann Hutchison: a great friend and a valued relative|
On her penultimate visit she announced "I have cancer". She had wanted to say this in person and there was no doubt she had made the trip specially. At that moment, my universe just turned black. She was allergic to and unsuitable for most of the chemotherapy so there were very few options and prospects did not look good so I knew it was the end. Ann, as ever, was very pragmatic "It is what it is." and being so close to Ann made me wonder chillingly how I would react to receiving and giving this news myself. This was my worst moment, and her last visit to the castle was much happier.
Ann, as ever, kept the increasingly bad news to herself, despite my inquiries. Her family let me know she had been rushed into a hospice. This was during lockdown so I was unable to visit. The reality of this denial of the instinctual attending to the dying hit me hard. I understand I managed to get a message through to Ann via the staff with a phone call to the hospice, but that all my electronic communications did not make it.
After Ann's last visit to the castle, I had an eye-appointment in Glasgow to check if I was suitable for laser surgery (I wasn't). I realised it could be a last chance to see Ann if I stayed overnight with her in Kirkintilloch the night before and took the train into Glasgow. She made me a wonderful evening meal and we laughed and joked as ever.
The trip to Glasgow proved more draining and time-consuming than I had expected. I got back to Kirkintilloch late afternoon, and did not fancy the drive back to the castle in the dark. I asked Ann if it was possible to stay another night. She made an even more wonderful evening meal, and really pushed the boat out. We had strawberries for pudding, then another pudding of ice-cream. There was also coffee and cheese. There may even have been sherry. :-) We both knew it was the "last supper". It's funny how you don't mention this, and we had an absolutely great time together. So even though I didn't manage to see Ann in the hospice, we had had the most wonderful goodbye. I set off from Kirkintilloch the following morning with my heart breaking.
I haven't mentioned how I first met Ann: the story is quite extraordinary. I had recently bought the castle, and my parents had died around 10 years before and with both of them being only children, my pool of relatives had dropped to virtually zero. Out of the blue, I got an email from some distant relatives in Australia called Donald and Edna whom my Mum had kept in touch with. They were going to be travelling round the UK. I was heading to the castle myself during the dates of their trip, and suggested it might be fun to meet up at the castle. "Great!", they replied, "We'll bring your Scottish relative.". "What Scottish relative!?" I responded incredulously and excitedly.
Anyhow, I met Ann for the first time on they day of their visit and we all returned to the nearby "Purgavie Farm B&B" where they were staying, for an excellent meal. I talked with Ann in front of the fire at Purgavie Farm into the night. It was clear we had a lot in common, and had both been through some difficult times in recent years. Blood is so much thicker than water, and we bonded instantly: Ann felt like family and that was a feeling I had been craving. Ann mentioned a "great aunt Priscilla" (forget the name) who way back in time had been a great "sensitive" My Mum had talked about the very same person. Both Ann and my mother believed they had inherited some of this ability, and I often wonder if some of my interest in old buildings is related. I am very aware of atmosphere, though would not ascribe anything supernatural to this ability. I wish I had written down the actual name of Priscilla, as I would love to do some genealogical research into this Richardson branch of the family. Hopefully, if Ann's family is reading this blog entry, perhaps they can supply enough details to enable the research? Ann and I share the same great-great-(great?) grandfather. Ann showed me a picture of him once - I would love a scan.
So you can imagine how much I valued Ann, a true family member I thought I would never ever have again. Ann also formed close bonds with my friends and workmen at the castle. She was well-known for telling me off for my lack of house-keeping skills, so before her visits I would be frantically scrubbing, cleaning and cooking. Of course, it was never good enough and Ann rolled up her sleeves on arrival and got stuck in.
Through Ann I have now met other family members e.g. her grandson Craig who accompanied Ann on her earlier visits to the castle. I met other members of her extended family at the funeral service and at the scattering of her ashes at Balintore Castle. It was frustrating trying to communicate with Ann's family when I first met them, as we had to restrict ourselves to the car park of the crematorium after the service with appropriate social distancing. I was heartened by Ann's wish for her ashes to be scattered at Balintore, which I found out after her death. Ann said visiting Balintore always lifted her mood, and that Balintore had a positive vibe. On the 26th July this year, the few impromptu and fumbling words I said before Ann's ashes were scattered, included the remark that it was actually Ann who brought the magic to Balintore.
As soon as I knew about the scattering of ashes, I realised that there was a need for a memorial bench in the location, so team Balintore got stuck in. I bought some antique bench ends off Gregor's brother. Gregor painted them brown and gold and installed new hardwood slats. I added some additional gold detailing to the paint job and organised a brass plaque. In typical Balintore fashion, the bench was completed just a couple of days before the Glasgow posse arrived for the scattering. The spot has simply the best view, and when I feel the need for some spiritual energy I sit on the bench, contemplate the view and think fondly of Ann.
|plaque for Ann's memorial bench at Balintore Castle|
|Ann's memorial bench with plaque|
|guests at the scattering of Ann's ashes|
I will append the text of Ann's eulogy. This was one of the best eulogies I have ever heard because it was full of feeling: beautifully balanced between that rich vein of Glaswegian humour and the solemnity of the occasion. It captured Ann's character, her spirituality and her life story. In fact, it was so good none of us felt short-changed by the service despite the covid limitations - quite the contrary - it was genuinely a life-enhancing experience.
To donate to the Balintore restoration project click here.
27/03/1948 - 20/04/2020
Ann arrives to: “Make You Feel My Love” Adele
Good afternoon and welcome everyone and to those who are watching this service online, My name is Tom Elliott and I feel both honoured and privileged that I have been asked to officiate at today’s service.
On behalf of Alan and the entire family, I would like to take this opportunity of thanking each and every one of you here today and also watching from home not just for paying your respects but also for the great support you have shown them throughout this sad time.
Obviously during this part of the service I would normally be inviting everyone to join the family after the service to bring to mind and share your memories of time spent with Ann, but sadly due to the current situation with social distancing this unfortunately can’t happen, but hopefully in the near future you can all gather and do just that.
Today we gather not to mourn a passing but to give thanks, and celebrate a life and that life of course being of Ann Hutchison.
For all those who die in the knowledge of a divine purpose are at peace. Their actions and efforts on this earth will have assured them their rightful place in the life to come. As we must all move through this experience that man calls death, we know that our divine is with us and also within us and we have nothing to fear. There will be strength and guidance waiting to comfort and sustain us through this great adventure of life beyond life. And that life is eternal. It is a very refuge in these times of trouble and need.
So, we have come together to pay tribute and also as I said to give thanks for the life of Ann.
Each of us has a different concept of God and its power. Whatever your God to be, may I ask you to join me in prayer.
Eternal and ever-present God, in whom we live and move and have our being. We reach to you in prayer, seeking strength, help and consolation. We know you are always directing all things to the fulfilment of your purposes, that your love is manifesting through all the varied experience of our life and yet we need to seek your strength when our faith is weak because our understanding of life is still imperfect
May we come to realise, through a greater awareness of the divine spirit within each of us. That whether we live or whether we die we are your children. Help us to realise that death is the gateway to a continued life in the spirit world. We send our love to Ann and pray that your angels of light will strengthen and encourage her in her new life. We know that she will be met by those smiling faces of the family and friends who have gone before and that their reunion will be a joyous occasion. May their bonds of affection be strengthened and may their love grow even stronger.
Born on the 27th of March 1948 to parents John and Margaret Aitken, along with her older sister Maureen, Ann was raised in the Springburn area of Glasgow. Just a typical wee Glasgow lass and Maureen said sometimes a wee horror but a loveable one at that. Ann attended Albert Primary School followed on by Glenwood Secondary School. It was around the age of 8 the family moved over to the Castlemilk area of Glasgow, with Margaret and John out working a lot to provide for their girls. It left Maureen to look after her young sister. She tells me Ann was a daddy’s girl. When it came to doing the housework, she would disappear especially if it was her turn for the dishes, leaving them for Maureen. She got away with everything as a young yin. Both Ann and Maureen would pop round to Dad John's work which was round the corner from the house. It was here John worked as a joiner. They would pop in and John and his workmates nicknamed Ann thrupenny-face. This was down to every time she went the only thing she would say was “Can I get thruppence?”. As a name it stuck for some time. From a young age she had a fascination with planting things and Maureen recalled Ann would be out back at the Castlemilk flat almost every day doing gardening on her wee patch up the back. This is something that carried on right through her adult life. I’m sure all in attendance, at some point or another, have received a wee cutting from one of the plants in her garden.
She loved shopping: again something that remained with her. It was one weekend she just happened to get a new wee yellow Mini car as a teenage girl and both Maureen and Ann on the Saturday decided to take a wee trip into town to get some new clothes. Back in the day you would find the height of fashion in the shops on Argyle Street. They finished shopping and went back to get the car but couldn't find it. Panic set in and they walked the length and breadth of Argyle Street and adjacent side streets finally finding it not far from WhatEverys. I'm sure that shop brings back many memories for all of us of a certain age.
Upon leaving school Ann took up a position within a bookmaker called Tote. From here she went on to work for Ashfield Motors. She was very academic which allowed her to work for various law firms, including Watermans Solicitors, McCarry's Solicitors and latterly before retirement she worked for Corries Solicitors.
She met and fell in love with a lad called Jim Hutchison. They dated for a bit and decided to get married. it was in July of 1966 that they welcomed their first and only child Alan into our world. Born in Springburn they moved as a family to Kirkintilloch. Both parents worked hard to provide for young Alan. With young Alan's cousin Jacqueline, both Ann and Maureen took turns to watch the kids whilst the other worked. Sadly, when Alan was a young teen, Ann’s marriage broke down. Jim and Ann remained amicable for the sake of young Alan. Ann continued to work hard to afford the usual things for her son. They spent a lot of time in Rothesay with Ann's parents and Alan would stay there a lot more, getting to spend time in his grandparents’ tourer. Alan loved spending so much time with his Nana and Pop. But he has fond memories of his Mum taking him on holidays to Kent and also once surprising him with a trip to France on a hovercraft. Memories that will live forever in his mind.
It was in 1984 that Ann was involved in a serious car accident which left her immobile for some time. It was left then to young Alan to act as a carer for his mum. Ann, not wanting to be a burden, pushed herself to get back up into the throws of life so it would encourage young Alan to go out and live his life.
Family was important to Ann, especially her grandkids. Gemma, Megan, Craig, Thomas and Bethany as well as her 3 great-grandkids Macie, Brodie and Mirren. They all played a huge part in her life and she adored them all equally as they adored her.
She taught the oldest three to swim. Craig recalled how they travelled all over the place to learn the bleeping (not the word he used!) doggy paddle, and I hear Gemma was unimpressed to hear of this as she only got as far as the Kirkie baths.
Megan and Craig recalled how they regularly got taken on caravan holidays. Again, Ann was giving the grandkids the same experiences as she gave Alan and they loved it. Even as the kids went to stay each Friday, she would make them stew and pastry, this because it was Megan's favourite and allegedly what Megan wants Megan gets due to the fact she thinks she was the favourite. Ann eventually decided to buy a bigger house so they both had a room each. She would take them all out on wee trips to different parks and even museums such as Kelvingrove, the People’s palace and also the Transport Museum. Hence the fact they all cultured … allegedly…
Ann loved her dogs especially Coco and Rex. Sadly Rex is no longer with us which devastated her but she still had her Coco. She once took Thomas and Bethany on a fundraising dog walk with both Rex and Coco. And I'm sure she will be smiling down as Thomas takes good care of her wee Coco for her.
Also for Craig she took him on a trip to the Norfolk broads and in his own words spending time on a mad boat thing. We are now led to believe he means a barge.
A young Bethany recently popped up to see her Nana. Ann happened to ask her about her schooling. Bethany excitedly told Ann that she was taking geography, and how she learned that France is in Italy. Ann being Ann decided to buy her a map. And I hear pulling this information together it has become apparent that Megan also seems to be in need of a map.
Ann was always a big kid at heart and even just a few years ago at great-granddaughter Macie's first birthday party she was the first on the bouncy castle even with her walking sticks in hand.
Talking about castles she was drawn to Balintore Castle. She loved to visit as it belongs to her cousin, and loved seeing it being restored over the years. Her last wish was for this to be her resting place. I personally have a story of Ann and Balintore which I will tell you about later.
She was a much loved Nana not only to her own but also to a few others whom she treated like they were her grandkids.
Friends remained close to Ann, she spent many happy times with both Anne and Isobel.
Isobel was recalling how each Saturday they would go for their weekly shop together, their friendship spans over 30 years. They first met when they both worked for Ashfield Motors, and struck up a great friendship and bond. Ann would go each year for Christmas dinner to both Isobel’s and her brother’s home. As a friend Isobel says she had a huge heart and was there for her through all the good times and the bad times and remained loyal. They even got the opportunity to go to a Boyzone concert last year with Ann being a huge fan. She will be missed by her friends and also her family.
I personally got to know Ann over the last few years. Like myself, Ann has a keen interest in spiritualism and she would come to all my workshops and my demonstrations as well as readings latterly. She had a huge caring heart and each time she booked on a course in the soul sanctuary she would purchase an extra space and tell me to give it to someone who couldn't afford to go. She loved buying crystals and I hear even as she was taken to hospital recently she was giving them away to the doctor and the ambulance guy in the house. Now I first heard of Balintore. One day I kept getting a pinging noise on my phone. These were PayPal payments for Balintore. I was a bit confused. I went into my account and found a payment from Balintore, then another, then another and another. This went on for ages. She must have had more money than sense as she kept sending the same payment over and over again. She messaged me to say something was wrong with PayPal and it was then I realised it was Ann. She did get them refunded, I should add. Like for most of us, we will all still be in a state of shock that she is no longer physically here but I’m sure wherever she is, she will be smiling down knowing just how much she was loved by everyone.
Ann was a beautiful soul. She had the time of day for anyone and would give you her last. She was loved and adored and respected by all those who had the privilege of knowing her. Her smile lit up the room when she walked in and she would natter with anyone. She loved to get involved in the community, often attending wee groups to do knitting or sewing etc even stretching to yoga latterly. She will be sorely missed and leaves a gaping hole within all of our hearts and minds. She leaves a legacy of a woman who lived and loved her life, and gave her time generously to all.
As a spiritualist, I know there is no such thing as death. I understand that the possessions of the earth must remain so, but that which is spirit must return to the spirit conditions. The spirit body of Ann along with the character and personality have been freed and has been returned to such conditions. We can be assured that such transitions took place and that the loved ones already in the spirit world have gathered together to greet Ann. Think of that reunion, the bonds of love which death cannot sever and that joyous occasion in spirit. So let's just for a few moments, reflect on your own wonderful memories of Ann whilst listening to a song chosen by the family which is.
“Somewhere over The Rainbow” by Eva Cassidy
For those who can please be upstanding, and that includes those at home attending today’s service on this live feed.
We have now come sadly to the final act of our formal parting, so let's be thankful for the life of Ann. For the love she gave, for the friendships she sustained and for the contribution to your world. All that was important to her will be respected by those who follow. All that was great about her will continue to mean so much in each of our lives. As we yield the body of Ann Hutchison to be cremated, we say farewell with immense sadness in our hearts. But may the grief you feel today be tempered by the happy wonderful memories that will comfort you not just for today but for all your days to come.
Please be seated.
Ladies and gentlemen we leave here today in the knowledge that Ann is at peace and no doubt in the arms of all those who have gone before. Sadly through these times of lockdown and isolation, we can’t go on as a group to raise a glass and toast the life of Ann whilst sharing our own stories and memories with each other. In time this will all change and I’m sure you will all have the opportunity to celebrate together and share said stories.
We leave here today listening to another song chosen by the family and of course one of Ann's favourite groups Boyzone.