Remembering My Lovely Mum

Following New Year I had been home for barely two weeks when I received a phone call from my sister Karen, to tell me that Mum’s health had seriously deteriorated and so I immediately flew back to the UK. She had just been moved to St. Ann’s Hospice so that they could better manage her condition and make her more comfortable. Thankfully I was able to spend the last week with her in the hospice, along with many other family and friends who visited regularly up until the end.

My Beautiful Mum - 29th Jan 1937 to 24th Jan 2019

My Beautiful Mum – 29th Jan 1937 to 24th Jan 2019

My beautiful Mum finally passed away peacefully… surrounded by her family and a dear friend. Words cannot express how much we will all miss her.

The Funeral was held last Monday and we believe we gave her the best and most heartfelt send-off. My daughters, Zoe and Emma read ‘Nana’s Prayer’ and my brother, Mark delivered a most wonderful Eulogy. So many family and friends came to pay their last respects. Afterwards we celebrated Mum’s long and happy life with a wake held at the Alma Lodge Hotel in Stockport. We brought along all Mum’s old photo albums and everyone enjoyed memories that these photos brought back to mind. It was lovely to see so many relatives that we haven’t seen for a long time, or that we see only now and then. Mum would have loved it all…

Our dear Mum… I think she was amazing! She built her whole life around her family and was a truly wonderful Mother, Nana and Great Nana.  She was never happier than when she was with family, including all her Dutch relatives whom she regularly visited in Holland and entertained in Spain.  Mum was strong, independent and always optimistic.  She was glamorous, fun-loving and cheerful.  Her energy and enthusiasm in everything she did, knew no bounds and she remained very active, riding her bike and swimming every day until the onset of her illness in May 2018. With Mum – nothing was too much trouble and I have many fond memories of her digging up trees in our gardens, laying patios and up ladders cleaning our windows! All the while.. she’d be humming and whistling away to herself! For the last 8 years of her life, Mum lived happily and independently in Spain and we all visited her there many times, including our cherished family holidays which rotated between Cyprus, Crete and Spain.  She had a large circle of friends and a great social life!  Among her friends, she was proud to be in such demand as a Canasta partner and I’ll always remember our own Canasta Tournaments and how Mum was so competitive.  God help you if you ended up partnering her and didn’t play to her standard!  Oh, how we shall all miss her…

I would like to thank St Ann’s Hospice for the wonderful care they gave to our Dear Mum, during the last two weeks of her life that she was there. Added to this was their genuine care and support for our family too, ensuring there was enough space around Mum’s bed to accommodate us all and providing overnight facilities.   My lovely Mum departed this world with dignity, peacefully in her sleep… and with all her beloved familly around her.

Rest in Peace, Mum xx

                                                     Photo Album of Some Cherished Memories

Mum with her 6 children, born within 6 years and 10 months!

Mum with her 6 children, born within 6 years and 10 months!

Mum, Dad & Leonie

Mum, Dad & Leonie

 

Mum with 3 of her 12 Grandchildren

Mum with 3 of her 12 Grandchildren

Cyprus 2015

Cyprus 2015

Cyprus 2012

Cyprus 2012

Crete 2014

Crete 2014

Spain 2017

Spain 2017

UK New Years Eve 2009

UK New Years Eve 2009

Spain 2010 - Riding her bike!

Spain 2010 – Riding her bike!

Crete June 2016 - Emma & Ash's Wedding

Crete June 2016 – Emma & Ash’s Wedding

Spain 2017 - Collecting seashells!

Spain 2017 – Collecting seashells!

Crete 2013

Crete 2013

Spain 2013

Spain 2013

Spain 2017

Spain 2017

Cyprus 2015

Cyprus 2015

Mum with Great Grandson Ralph - Crete May 2016

Mum with Great Grandson Ralph – Crete May 2016

Christmas in the UK 2016 - Mum with her 3 eldest - Karen, Mark & Me

Christmas in the UK 2016 – Mum with her 3 eldest – Karen, Mark & Me

Christmas is about Celebrating Quality Family Time

This Christmas time I went back to the UK much earlier than I usually do.
This is a good thing because I was able to spend lots of quality time with my Mum – even though she slept so much! Also my brother Mark came to visit for a couple of days with his two children, Honey and Ted and it was so good to see them all again! As always, it is good to catch up with Karen and Mike, while I base myself at their beautiful home.

My lovely Mum... and remembering our beautiful Leonie.

My lovely Mum… and remembering our beautiful Leonie.

When Mark, Honey and Ted were here, we all had such fun playing Sjoelen – a Dutch game that Mum introduced us to, when we were kids. This game has been in our family for over 50 years and after pulling it out of an almost 30-year hibernation, it was great to see the younger generation enjoying it as much as we did! To describe it – it’s like a giant ‘shuffle’ board. Measuring about 7 feet long and 20 inches wide, it has 4 evenly spaced channels behind a bank of four large and flat-shaped slots, at the end of the board. The slots are individually numbered 1-4 and there are approximately 32 large flat wooden discs which are about 2 inches in diameter. The idea of the game is to slide the discs down the length of the board, aiming for the slots at the bottom. You can look it up under ‘Sjoelen Dutch Board Game’.  I should have taken a photo but I was enjoying the game too much to interrupt it!  With practice you can become quite skilled… and as it all came back to us – Mark and I got consistently higher scores than Honey and Ted! There are techniques you can learn to accurately aim the discs and it was fun to see which ones Honey and Ted decided to use! Sjoelen was such fun to play and Mum loved watching us all. I hope it brought back many fond memories for her.

Incidentally, Sophie and Hannah loved Sjoelen so much that they borrowed it for their New Year’s Eve Party! And Karen and Mike’s close friends, David and Deborah – also loved it so much that they bought one of their own! Amazingly, they are still making these boards, although we have noticed that the new ones are nowhere near as slippy and smooth as our old original one. The result of many years of playing, I have no doubt!

Me with Ralph and Neve, at Emma and Ash's home.

Me with Ralph and Neve, at Emma and Ash’s home.

On 20th December Mark dropped me off in Manchester where Zoe was just finishing work for the Christmas break. She drove us back to their home in Huddersfield and together with Rich, we went out for a scrumptious meal in a lovely old pub in Huddersfield town. The next day Rich drove us down to Bury St Edmunds and the base where Emma and Ash live. This is where we were going to spend the next 5 days over Christmas – all of us together with my gorgeous Grandchildren, Ralph and Baby Neve. I cannot begin to describe how excited I was to be spending 5 whole days and nights with my close family. It was an absolute joy to have so much quality time with Ralph and Neve!

Such moments are priceless!

Such moments are priceless! Me with Gorgeous Baby Neve

On Christmas Eve morning, Rich drove Zoe, Emma and me to the wonderful Spa in Elvedon Forest. All three of us were booked in for a full day of pampering, including lunch, whilst Ash and Rich looked after Ralph and Neve. This was my wonderful Birthday present from Zoe and Emma and gave us all a rare opportunity to spend the day together… in the most relaxing of environments. I have never experienced such a day so this was a real first for me and was also much-needed TLC for all of us!
What a gorgeous place this Spa was – all wooden-built and set in the forest with a huge open-air Jacuzzi in the centre. All around were countless different Steam and Sauna rooms, areas of very comfortable lounging and water beds everywhere! We found a large wooden open air balcony which had a massive water bed on it. Of course we all immediately got onto this bed and smothered ourselves under thick fleecy blankets! The air was crispy cold and the view and scent of the trees all around was sublime. It was so peaceful and comfortable to lie here and just contemplate… time and space to reflect and to think. We also enjoyed a couple of treatments. I had a facial and a hot stone massage, both of which made me feel ridiculously pampered!

Ralph

Ralph is busy getting Rudolph’s carrots and Santa’s mince pie and sherry – ready for when he comes down the chimney!

We were back at Emma and Ash’s for about 5.30pm and after Emma had cooked yet another wonderful meal for us all, we helped Ralph get carrots for the Reindeer and a mince pie and sherry for Santa. He carefully placed it on the hearth by the chimney and was so excited! Sadly, the photo I took was blurry – I’m a lousy photographer and it’s so difficult to get children to keep still!  Later and after Ralph had gone to bed, Ash made snowy footprints with flour, leading from the fireplace to the wonderful real Christmas tree! Then after we had finished putting out all the presents and carefully arranging them all around the tree, we settled down to watch a movie.

Aww... Cute! Ash is showing Ralph his new headphones!

Aww… Cute! Ash is showing Ralph his new headphones!

Ralph has just turned three and it was just magical to witness his excitement and joy on Christmas morning! To see his face light up as he noticed the snowy footprints leading from the chimney to the tree!  Ralph loved all of his presents and remembers who they are all from.  We enjoyed a very leisurely few hours, opening presents and playing with Ralph and Neve. I couldn’t have wished for a more magical Christmas! Needless to say – the dinner was scrumptious! Emma was a superb hostess and served us with such fine food and drink, throughout the 5 days we stayed. We all had a thoroughly good time and yet another Christmas to cherish for always!

Happy Baby Neve with her Aunty Zoe!

Happy Baby Neve with her Aunty Zoe!

So it was such a wrench to say goodbye to Ralph and Neve on Boxing Day… I miss them more than ever, especially after I have spent so many days with them! This is only the second time I have been able to spend time with my new Granddaughter. She is amazing… so vocal and trying to talk to you with lots of bubble blowing and cute little sounds. She adores her food and is a bonny little thing, always wanting to stand up, arching her back so that you can’t sit her down! I took some amazing videos of her and wish I could share them with you. What can I say? I just feel so wonderfully blessed to have Ralph and Neve in my life!

Christmas Day and playing with Neve

Christmas Day and I’m happily playing with Neve!

Rich drove us back up north and Emma and Ash left for their long drive to Shrewsbury and Ash’s parents’ house. On arriving at Karen and Mike’s, Zoe and Rich popped in to say quick hello’s to everyone, before driving back to Huddersfield. During the next few days I went out on the Friday evening, for a few drinks with Ange, and both Jill and Caroline called round for catch-ups on separate occasions. Albeit brief – it was great to see my friends again and find out what’s been happening in their lives, since I last saw them in September.

By complete contrast – New Year’s Eve was without doubt – the quietest I have ever experienced! It was just me and Mum with long-standing family friend, Gaynor. Mum was sleeping most of the time and Gaynor and I chatted, drank Baileys and snacked on nibbles. Very uneventful… but then such is life… you never know what it will throw up next?

I flew back to Crete last Thursday, with a sad and heavy heart at leaving all my loved ones… yet knowing I’ll be returning again soon.

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