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14/October/2022 Posted by Freddy

At 2.54 am this morning, the 13th of October 2022, my mum died.

Born in the room above a barn in 1931 in the village of Offenham, and named June after the month she was born in, my mum had a somewhat idyllic start to life as a child in the town of Evesham which is in the Midlands of England. Her grandfather worked on a farm, and when she was visiting as a young girl he would collect her from the bottom of the hill with a large plough horse, and she would ride on it up the hill to his house. And as a girl born in Offenham, she was allowed to dance round the maypole in the village, which given there is no maternity hospital in Offenham I guess is a claim few can still make.

But Evesham isn't far outside Birmingham, a major industrial target in World War 2, and she would tell us stories of laying awake in her bed at night looking out of her bedroom window across the river valley at the hills opposite, and seeing German bombers silhouetted, which had dropped bombs on the city and were making their way along the river and onwards home. The village was the subject of some light bombing in the war, as the planes would have to drop all of the bombs they still had remaining after hitting their targets, to conserve fuel for the journey home, and would bomb any target of opportunity.
She used to tell a story of how one night, there were two trains crossing in opposite directions on the two parallel railway bridges over the river, one containing munitions, the other containing troops, and the sparks from the funnels attracted the attention of a bomber. If the bomb struck either of the trains, there would be massive casualties, as the explosion of the munitions train would destroy both. But the bomb instead dropped between the two bridges, and the next morning the children were dispatched to collect the masses of dead fish which had been blasted onto the river banks.
During one night, she was kept awake by a baby crying, only to complain to her father the next morning about the baby next door through the wall, only to be told that her mum had given birth, and she now had a brother, my Uncle Dennis.

Her father was a grocer, too old for service in the war and in a reserved trade, he would distribute the rationed foods to distant farms around the village. He also occasionally received goods from the local American military base to distribute as well, and my mum told stories of them receiving tins whose labels were lost in water damage, so it was a mystery as to what was going to be in each tin when they opened it, were they getting a tin of meat or veg, or a tin of peaches. She also told of one occasion when a crate of Mars Bars were water damaged in the shipping, and the base asked my Grandfather to dispose of them to the local pig farms. But he discovered only the outer layer had been damaged, and the inner ones were fine, so he distributed them to the children of the village.

After the war, she worked in a Woolworths store straight from school, and then she worked for the local newspaper, before signing up with the Womens Royal Naval Service, commonly called the Wrens. As a Wren she visited various parts of Europe in the years after the war, describing the devastation that she witnessed, and also telling the tale of visiting the Eiffel Tower in Paris with a friend, and getting flashed, to which her and her friend burst into laughter at the culprit.

In the Wrens, who at the time were not allowed at sea, she served in supply, distributing uniforms and equipment to sailors, and because she served on the same Naval base as Prince Phillip during his service, she is one of the few who could claim to have handled his underwear.
It was here she also met my father, who came in to complain that his kit was wrong, calling her a "stupid bloody woman", and returning later to ask her out on a date as way of an apology, charms which I can only hope to have inherited.

As a couple serving in the military, my parents moved around a lot, which led to both of my brothers, my sister and I being born in different places around the UK.
When I was young, my Dad left, and my mum went from being a full time mum to having to work to support us. Among other places, she worked for an organisation called Crossroads, which cared for pensioners, with that care coming full circle as Crossroads provided care to my mum during her later years.

After my dad left, my mum's aim was always for there to be a safe place for her kids, she won the family home in the divorce settlement, and kept it as somewhere we could all move back in if we messed up in life and needed somewhere. Something we all availed ourselves at one point or other.

In her later years, she began suffering from Dementia, Parkinsons Disease and Alzheimers, and her memory began suffering. It became a joke between us all, that she would rarely get our names right on the first attempt, and she would act like it was our fault for having the wrong name. Despite this confusion, she always knew one thing, that she loved us, and that we loved her, she might get names wrong but always asked after each of her grandchildren who she adored.

Dementia is a horrible illness, taking your loved one from you in pieces.

In her final couple of days in hospital, as the illnesses robbed her of her ability to speak, her final words to me were a response to me telling her that I loved her, "you too".

While it may seem greedy to want more days with someone who lived 91 years, in reality it just makes the absence I already feel, equal in enormity to the time I had with her.

I'm going to miss my mum, she always did us proud, and I hope we continue to all make her proud.

Comments made about this Article!

14/Oct/2022 13:12:08 Posted by

My deepest condolences to you and your family.

14/Oct/2022 16:24:31 Posted by Gilles

Toutes mes condoléances, bon courage à ta famille et à toi.

14/Oct/2022 18:50:10 Posted by catsi563

Deepest condolences and warmest thoughts for you and your family Freddy

15/Oct/2022 06:23:18 Posted by GMOverkill

I'm sorry for your loss. Losing someone close is always hard, no matter how old they are. Keep their memory in your heart and think of all the good times you had together.
Friendly (but sorrowful) greetings,

15/Oct/2022 06:56:58 Posted by princedarkstorm

I am very sorry for your loss . I know that pain when my mother died . I recall watching all the star wars movies [1-6 ] and talked about so many things . I miss those or hearing her sing . Always keep her in your heart , mind and soul !

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