Eleanor’s funeral is tomorrow and I am to say a few words there. I find it very difficult to formulate the words.
We had known each other for 7 years now. We had spend many hours eating, phoning, discussing, arguing, travelling, commiserating together. Eleanor came with me to pick up keys to my daughter’s flat which was going to be my new home in London. My last phone conversation with her was about the death of my dad. She had met the rest of my family when they came over when I was a torchbearer in Coventry in 2012. We exchanged news and she told me how she was still affected by her mother’s death. And of course in our last meeting at Westfield, in Stratford (our midpoint between journeys) she told me the details of her cat’s death. She loved that cat, she was very upset and she cried. And in one of the in between conversations she told me how she considered me as one of her best friends and have great respect for what I do – because she knew how I was upset by an incident with someone else. She was the kind of person who knew how important support was. Last week or so ago at her UNITE memorial service, I heard other people giving testimony to her warmth, passion and dedication to the political work she did. That is a part of her life I m not that familiar with, we did not live in the same area. I am not a party political person even though we were in disability campaigns. We had been to many protests together and she came with me to march with the DPAC banner at the March 26th 2011 organised by the TUC and in other places like Manchester with Gerry , her partner.She was instrumental in getting our presence acknowledged at the #Sagamihara vigil outside the Japanese Embassy. (She knew one of the guards there who went in to inform them). This was her message in this photo.
She was also a fellow co founder of Sisters of Frida, a disabled women’s collective. We went to Geneva together to attend the UN CEDAW event to represent disabled women in the cohort of women organisations organised by the Women Resource Centre.
And now she is no longer with us. I want to say it is my friend that I will miss. I will miss my friend every New Year’s Eve – we had been spending it together for many years now. We had the Chinese hotpot and saw the year in together.
I hope to set up a memorial trust of some kind for Eleanor to remember her by and support a disabled woman to attend an event in her memory. I think she would approve of that. Eleanor RIP, my good friend.
note Eleanor Firman died Easter Sunday 16th April 2017