My dear Mum passed away recently, aged 93. She had been in residential care and seemed fine physically. One weekend morning in March I had a call from the home to say she had to go into hospital as they were worried about her cough, which she had only had for 2 or 3 days. In the hospital an X-Ray showed that she had pneumonia. She was kept in for just over 3 weeks and was sufficiently recovered to be allowed out again but had to go into nursing care. I was fortunate enough to find a suitable place not too far from where we live and we got her moved in. Mum settled well enough, though by then she was mentally very frail and had been for quite a while. She had been there just over 5 weeks when on my visit one day they told me she was unwell and did I want her to go back into hospital. I declined as I felt that the move again would frighten her and they agreed with me but warned that I would have to be strong and to be prepared. She died a few days later of pneumonia. She had been ill for 4 days.
I was with her, holding her hand, when she passed away. My daughter was there also and Mum knew we were both there with her.
The Minister who tok the funeral service asked if I would be prepared to write a few words about Mum and think about reading them at the service. At first I thought that although I could and would write something I would not be able to say it myself for fear of breaking down. She (the Mnister) told me she would do it if necessary or be on hand to take over if I decided to do it. I made the decision that it was the last thing I could do for my Mum and no-one else knew her as I did, after all.
This is what I wrote and read out at her funeral service:-
MARJORIE JANE PRESTON
Mum was born in Weymouth on 9 March 1922, a second daughter for her parents, Susie and Tom. Later the family increased to 5 daughters (Barbara, Marjorie, Pat, twins Cynthia and Sylvia and 1 son Tim. It was a loving and close family although they were not very well off and Mum learned how to be thrifty at an early age. This continued throughout her life. She left school at 14 and at first worked in the local laundry. She had a variety of jobs from then on including carpentry work in a factory during the war years where she was voted the girl with the best legs, working for Marks & Spencer as a counter assistant, helping out in the village Post Office and also was a wine waitress at a local restaurant. She worked until my Dad became ill when she was 60, and she retired.She met Dad on 3 April 1941 at a local pub. He was in the RAF and stationed at Moonfleet and had gone out for a drink with his mates to celebrate his birthday. Before he left that night he asked if he could see her again. They married the following January 31, 1942 and were together for 40 years, celebrating their Ruby anniversary shortly before Dad died. Mum remained a widow for 33 years.
Mum was a good homemaker, very houseproud and a great cook. Because she had to be careful with her household budget she knew how to cook the cheaper cuts of meat and was a dab hand at roasting the most delicious brisket of beef, a skill I have never quite managed. She also made wonderful cakes and pastry.Mum enjoyed her life.
She loved gardening and took great pleasure in the birds in her garden.She enjoyed going for walks, particularly across the cliffs and on the beach at Osmington, the village where she lived for about 40 years.
At one time she made wine, her speciality being elderflower, which she would have picked on one of her walks.She liked to sing, not just around the house but in the local church choir and once sang with other choirs in Salisbury Cathedral, an experience she never forgot. She was also a member of the Mothers Union and of the WI.
She was an excellent knitter and when I was a little girl she earned extra money by knitting for a pattern designer. She also enjoyed crochet. She did some very fine work and once made a beautiful white cotton tablecloth which I still have and use. When complimented on her work Mum always said the skill was in the design, but we knew she was talented as well and she did win some prizes for her craft work at the WI and various shows.She liked holidays and went abroad a few times. The first time was to see the Passion Play in Oberammergau in Austria, another unforgettable experience for her. She loved Austria and went there twice more. And at the age of 85 she travelled to Australia for a family visit and again about 18 months later when a new great grandson was born.
Mum loved words and until about 18 months ago she read avidly. Her favourite author, I think was Maeve Binchy but she also read the complete works of Charles Dickens and Thomas Hardy several times as well as other various authors. She was a dab hand at cryptic cross words too, something I never really got to grips with. She told me that the clues fascinated and amused her.
She loved to laugh, had a great sense of humour and enjoyed relating anecdotes, even if they were against her. One story that amused her very much was about a telephone call that she received shortly after her own mother had died. Mum was preparing a meal one day when the telephone rang and when she answered it, a little old lady’s voice said coyly “I’ll bet you don’t know who this is”. Mum said she didn’t and the lady said “it’s your mother”! Well, of course Mum realised immediately that it was a wrong number and told the lady. Apparently this old lady had just had the telephone installed that day and was trying to ring her own daughter to surprise her. All was explained and apologies were made and Mum went back to the kitchen only to hear the phone ring again and when she answered it for the second time she heard “I’ll bet you don’t know who this is” and she had to let the old lady down again. We imagined that she finally managed to get through to her daughter but the incident made us laugh on several occasions.Mum was shy, very private, could be feisty but was always kind and loving. She always greeted me with a smile, even on the night she died. She came from a loving family and loved her own family very much. I never doubted her love for Dad and for me and when my children were born she was overjoyed and loved them without reserve. When her great grandchildren came along, they too were a great joy to her. Mum believed in God and said her prayers every day and she always included all her family in her prayers.
Towards the end of her life, on occasions, Mum would say to me “I don’t think God wants me”, such sad words. I would reply, “of course he wants you Mum, it’s just not your time, He knows we still need you”. Well you are with God now Mum, and we shall have to learn to live without you. I love you Mum. Rest in Peace.
I miss her every day.