Jennifer Nicholl: Bubbly and charismatic mum kept illness even from family
JENNIFER Nicholl had always said that after her death she wanted her body to be "left in a forest and eaten by foxes".
"Unfortunately she was also aware this was illegal, so she said she would settle for a quiet cremation and being scattered in the Wadi Rum desert," her death notice read.
It was not a typical request, but the Newtownabbey woman did not want a typical funeral.
"She loved to laugh and have fun and hated the idea of lots of people sobbing," said her daughter Alice (25).
"We travelled to Jordan together last year and she loved it so much that she said when she died, she wanted her ashes scattered somewhere hot like that."
The conversation had more significance than Alice could have known at the time.
Her mother was already receiving treatment for cancer at that stage, but did not want anyone to know she was sick.
She would somehow manage to keep her illness secret from her family right up until a few days before her death aged 54 on March 2.
Born in Carnmoney, Co Antrim, Jennifer was not blessed with a long life but she certainly lived the years she was granted to the full.
A former pupil of Belfast Royal Academy, she initially worked as a dental nurse before putting all her energies into raising her family.
In the last decade she had acted as a child chaperone for various film and TV studios and Belfast's Grand Opera House, as well as lending her energies to a variety of voluntary groups.
She was bubbly and charismatic, generous and kind-hearted, and always seemed to have a smile on her face.
"Over the past year she was still her normal self, always making sure everyone else was having fun," said Alice.
"She took ill on a Monday and by the Wednesday we learned she had terminal cancer. She died on the Saturday morning in Belfast's Mater Hospital.
"We had a quiet cremation, short and simple as she wanted, and played her favourite music. She loved David Bowie and the coffin was lowered to Ziggy Stardust.
"We then invited friends round to the house and had her favourite Hugo cocktails and reminisced together about all the funny moments we shared.
"My mother was absolutely the best kind of mother you could've ever wished for, and her influence will shine on in everything me and Connie do."
Jennifer Nicholl is survived by her children Alice andConnie and cats Taco, Gus and Cortes.