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My Days – Chapter Six

Life is so lonely now. I think of all the things I did at such-and-such a time, and I wish I could do them with Bert now. Why did you have to leave me? I know the pain was bad, but you don’t think of those things when you’re together, and you can always get something for it from the doctor.  People say to me, “you do look well”. I know I am, but they don’t know the ache inside.

I have a very good friend across the way, Evelyn Fisher. She is so kind and brings lovely meals and baking. She shops at Asda and other places. She has just rung as I’m writing now to ask if she can bring me anything from Asda. It is so kind of her.

I was going to walk to our post-office shop. The sun is shining but there is such a lot of wind. It’s only February and so cold. We must expect it for a while yet, but we’ve got the summer in front of us. Father Christmas brought me a four-wheel walker so I can get out more. I was walking with a stick but got so I couldn’t manage it. I am top-heavy and it pulls me to one side. I’m frightened of falling.

Jane, my house and garden lady, is very good. She’s wonderful. Her mum is in Louth hospital, having had an operation to replace her hip. She’s going on very well, having waited such a long time. She’s in one of the electric chairs, so hopefully she can walk a lot better when she comes out, after a while. Jane has just gone off to Louth and took her dad and daughter. Jane’s daughter, Samantha, is 13-years old. I hope they find things OK, which I think they will.

Jane and family have arrived back from Louth hospital. Joan is going on fine. It’ll be about another week. It’s a long trail for Jane but her mum is being looked after very well and is enjoying fresh company. Jane is a grand lass. She will do anything for people. She might be a bit too willing at times. I feel people put on her. She’s been lovely with me since Bert passed away. Bert would be so pleased if only he could see what she’s done with the garden. It is a picture. He thought such a lot of his garden. How I miss him every day. Life will never be the same again. I say to those who have got their husbands and partners: “Love and take care of each other. Life is very lonely when you lose them”.

They’re only memories, but they mean such a lot and we had lots. I was looking in a box the other day and found letters and cards. Such lovely memories and some sad. There were letters we were sent when I was in labour and when we lost our little Raymond Barry from the lady I worked for, Mrs Massingberd-Mundy of Ormsby Hall.

We also got some from Mr and Mrs Ward, who Bert worked for, and the rector at South Ormsby who married us. Their daughter, Joyce, was in the army. She even wrote. It was so kind of them, and lots more.

I wonder how he would have turned out. I do think a lot. I wonder if he would have been kind and thoughtful like David. I am sure he would, bless him. His dad is looking after him now, and I hope they remember me. God bless them both. Love, Mum, xx.

Maybe I am rambling on, but it’s just how I feel. My mum used to say she liked my letters because I wrote as I spoke and they were full of news.

Images above:

Left – with David and Pam at the Bentley Hotel.

Right – with Katie.

 

A New Friend

It is nearly two years since I put pen to paper. Such a lot has happened.

I was having my house rewired. Me being me, I couldn’t leave things alone and pulled a storage heater over on my leg. I landed in hospital for two weeks. I came out and went to David and Pam’s with a pot on it. I can’t remember how long for.

David and Pam had booked a party at the Bentley Hotel for my 90th birthday – so kind and thoughtful of them. It was all arranged before it happened – my silly leg! I really enjoyed it all. We stayed the night. I wish I could have walked among the guests.

I didn’t say anything but I had a feeling my leg wasn’t right. The next week I went to hospital to have the pot off and they found I had an infection in it. I had another seven days in hospital with the infection. They were wonderful, the hospital staff, and the food was very good.

I met up with some very nice people while I was in there. I got very close to one lady, Katie Whiley. We still ring each other every week.  She is partly blind and I had my leg up so we helped one another. We had some good laughs. The nurses used to wonder what we were up to, but it’s like we said; it’s your home while you’re in there so make the best of it.

We have some good laughs on the phone now, about nothing some people would say. She is a dear soul and lives on her own like me, so we make the best of it. She lost her husband four years ago and her son three years ago. She’s nearly blind. She’s wonderful.

There’s always some good comes out of everything. If I hadn’t done what I did, I would never have met her and her me. She – like me, thank goodness – still lives in her own house.  She’s 78-years old and I’m 91 but I feel much younger. People tell me I don’t look that age. I don’t feel it but it’s there, isn’t it?

I don’t know what I would do without David and Pam. They are both wonderful. They do such a lot for me. They live in Sheffield but come over to see me every two weeks and make sure I’ve got plenty of everything. They’re so good. I’ve just been over for a long weekend and had a lovely time.

Images above:

Left – mum and Katie with Paul and Wendy.

Right – mum and Katie at the Bentley Hotel.

 

Epilogue by David Brown

Mum stopped writing ‘My Days’ in 2006.  A lot happened in her life in the following fourteen years which, for the sake of completeness, is worth documenting.

 

Katie

Over those years, mum and Katie became very good friends.  They phoned each other every evening.  From time to time, when Pam and I visited Mum, we would take her to see Katie who lived in the north of Lincoln.

In 2008, mum and Katie thought that they would like to go away on holiday together. Pam and I found Caxton House in Skegness, which looked to be a very nice guest house. We booked it for them, took them one Monday in September and collected them again on the Friday. They had a wonderful time, and these 80 and 93-year old ladies were well looked after by the proprietors, Paul and Wendy.

In December of that year, Pam and I took mum and Katie to the Bentley Hotel in Lincoln for a Christmas dinner.  They very much entered into the spirit of the occasion and had a grand time. They enthusiastically talked about going to stay at Caxton House again in the coming year. That did not, alas, prove possible. Sadly, in the summer of 2009, Katie passed away, and mum lost an extremely close friend.

 

Out and About

Mum would regularly come to stay with Pam and me in Sheffield, whether for Christmas, New Year or breaks during the year. When with us, she enjoyed trips out into Derbyshire, sitting in the garden, or racing around Meadowhall shopping centre with her walker.

In 2005, mum was contacted by Squire Adrian at South Ormsby Hall, who’d been a little boy when she worked there. He invited her to a Christmas lunch that he and his partner, Sara Perceval, were holding for estate workers, past and present. Pam and I took mum to this occasion and she was thrilled to see Adrian again, and also Robert and Ivy, the butler and cook from when she was in service.

We went to two more of these lunches, but Adrian’s health deteriorated and Miss Perceval realised that it was not possible to continue this tradition. However, she recognised how much Adrian and mum enjoyed seeing one another, so on a number of occasions in subsequent years she invited the three of us to the Hall to have tea with Adrian and her. Mum and Adrian would thrill at reminiscing over the times when she was housemaid and he, as a little boy, would play her up!

Images above:

Top Left – mum at The Sands, Scarborough.

Top Right – mum in Whitby.

Lower Left – mum in Peasholm Park.

Lower Right – mum on the train to Scalby Mill.

 

The three of us also went away for short breaks to places such as Goathland in North Yorkshire. Mum’s favourite destination was Scarborough. From 2009, we would stay in an apartment, The Sands, in the North Bay. Mum loved it there. She would get up early in the morning, make herself a cup of tea, sit on the balcony overlooking the sea and watch the dogs playing on the beach.

We would go out for day-trips to places such as Whitby, but she was equally happy to stay in Scarborough, walk along the sea-front, visit nearby Peasholm Park or take the miniature railway to Scalby Mills.

She loved her holidays in Scarborough and would happily go more than once a year.  The last time the three of us went was in May 2011 for mum’s 96th birthday. Later that year she found she could no longer travel distances, so her journeys to Scarborough and Sheffield had come to an end.