I’ve known Clare for ten years. Seems like a thousand years and to quote Tina Turner who can’t be here today she’s simply the best.
Wife, mumma, daughter, sister, daughter in law, sister in law, belle-soeur, aunty, friend to you all, neighbour all over the world, colleague, mentor, my best friend, ally, confidant and more.
We met and hit it off. My Lucy and Emma had been at school for 2 years yet we'd never met. She said HELLO and said they were off to Stang ar Bacol, a place many of us are familiar with, and we chatted about pesky children, Christmas and France.
When the schools went back we met up and chatted about EVERYTHING. When I heard about the roadworks I offered to take her loons to school. Who offers to take 2 extra loons on school run for 3 months? A loon!
We’d say a brief morning hello and have a cuppa each evening, we fell into a Friday Chinese routine, she helped me with my French (and I wont embarass anyone with the words and phrases I asked her to translate), we laughed at the same things, went on adventures, talked long into the night, drank tea whilst she marked books, toasted marshmallows, drank French cider and a lot of other things, holidayed together, her family and friends became our family and friends and vice versa. Loons the lot of you.
We would talk about everything. The good, the bad and the ugly (but enough of our girls), all of our hopes, fears, worries, niggles, drama, dreams, trauma. Everything.
On holiday we worked well in the kitchen, she being "neat" and me being "creative". Happy days in Stang ar Bacol, Les Pommiers Gites, Chez Belliveau, Biscarosse, Bordeaux - happy places to name but a few. The booze always flowed and the laughter and conversation never dried up, like the children who didn’t do chores.
When they left Wokingham to start a new chapter in France I was sad to see them go but we promised to keep in touch. There was no doubt we wouldn’t.
Time stands still, beauty in all she is.
Clare was fun and we always had fun, there was always laughter and plenty of noise. And advice.
Lara reminded me she had told her to put peanut butter onto chewing gum stuck in her hair, when you look at chewing gum and peanut butter you’ll now smile!
I remember when she told me she had breast cancer. I jokily said that she would get up and put her perfect hair on whilst everyone else would be tussling with theirs. When she said it had spread to her hip and lung she was never woe is me. When she told me she had brain tumours, we talked for hours about treatment, wigs and cancer but she never dragged anyone down with her.
When I last saw her I wasn’t scared or frightened because she was, as she has always been, strong and courageous. When she came home and she said eff it I cried. The cancer that had invaded her body all those years ago had got hold and was not loosening its grip. We talked, I cried, she said eff it. Again.
Our conversation will stay with me forever. She said we had never argued and maybe we could have one just to see what it was like but we couldn't think of anything to argue about.
When I left I tearfully told her to get the wine in, find a comfy sofa with a good view and I'll find her. I sobbed whist Cecile, who had mothered my girls in Stang ar Bacol all those years ago, held me tight. Then I nipped back and said I didn't want her last memory of me to be of me crying. We laughed.
Clare always laughed, her sunny disposition was outstanding. She could laugh and joke about everything and her laughter and kindness was infectious. Her pupils spoke highly of her one said “she really was so much more than a teacher to us all”. I don’t know of anyone who didn’t like her. Well apart from the men doing the drive who said they had replaced a pipe as it was broken, she said well you didn’t tell me so how can I believe you and I’m not paying extra. She was brave!
She loved, was loved and always will be loved.
So CLARE, thank you, thank you for making Regis so happy for so many years, thank you for giving this world your gorgeous girls, thank you for all you are, all you have been and all you will continue to be for many years.
I have loved you a thousand years, I will love you for a thousand more.
Rest in peace Cholet.