My beloved Pat:

If you can stop laughing at my singing, I need to add a few words to Sandyís about the life you shared with me for forty years. Of course, it wasnít the life you originally wanted. You always regretted that your vocation to become a doctor was unfulfilled, and you would have been a fine one.But how can I regret that the path you took brought you to me and made me whole? It made you too happy, most of the time, and let many of your other talents flourish. And these talents were great and various.Your parents and grandparents knew this, and naturally wanted only the best for their very bright, and only, little girl. You were I think outwardly not rebellious, but the truth that raising children in love is to lose them to their freedom was unusually painful to all three, and all five, of you. On your journey from Clowne to Wigston to Oxford and Strasbourg, you learnt well. As a wife to me, and mother to Sarah, Lucy and Jonathan Ė Jonathan sadly cannot be with us today, but he joined his sisters at your side over the last gruelling fortnight of your life when it counted most - your love for all of us was of the highest, unselfish kind that creates a space in which the beloved can be themselves. As a grandma to Cassie, total indulgence became your only option! Cassie has made you a nice big picture in a vigorous Toddler Expressionist style [places drawing on coffin].

Cookery was perhaps your first talent to emerge. As an 11-year-old capable of cooking a full English Sunday dinner, you did not take kindly to the attempts by your domestic science teacher to induct you into the arcane mysteries of rock buns.Luckily your language teachers were more perceptive. French came easily, as it was your motherís native tongue: but with a precise ear and acute linguistic intelligence you reached the same flawless, secret-agent standard in Spanish as well. Living in France and Spain, and seeing our children grow up bilingual, was a straightforward pleasure for you. Your expertise did make you a very demanding teacher. No, itís not Vallensia, its Bvalenthia! Itís not Madridd: lengthen the vowels and soften the d! Mahdridh? Thatís better, James, youíre almost there. Not quite: I could never reach your impossibly high standards. To cap it all, you were apologetic that you only had basic Arabic, German and Russian. Очэн хорошо.

Passing over discreetly your generosity to me as a lover, Iíll repeat what Sandy has said about your extraordinary gifts for friendship. You brought total concentration to the simplest exchange. ďShut up, James! Canít you see Iím on the phone?Ē Since Friday, I have been ploughing my way through the apparently endless list of the many hearts that you unlocked with your refined emotional intelligence and practical good sense. They say that each of us is six degrees of separation in acquaintance from any other person in the world: a proposition that depends on the few nodal people who know hundreds. Love demands more, but follows the same networking rule. You were one of those few who bind the world together in the chain of love. And you still are.

Thank you for everything, my love, and may God be with you.