I found myself thinking about a relative whose birthday it was today.
She was related by marriage, being the fourth wife and widow of my paternal grandfather.
Mum, Dad and I lived with them for almost a year in 1972-73.
She was a teapot of a woman, round with short legs, but her heart was in the right place, and I know I was a difficult teenager to be around at that time.
She loved her bingo and wrestling on the TV, and every year would have a Butlins holiday on her own.
She was a tasty cook, making the most fabulous pastry, but if you ever saw her prepare a meal, chances are you wouldn’t enjoy it as she was what one would deem a ‘messy cook’.
She couldn’t cook a chicken to save her life though. It was either still running with blood or tough as old boots.
She had a fat dachshund that had to be carried up the stairs to bed at night, and in the morning he would rock his front legs over the top step and slide down on his belly to the bottom. He had a bald tummy because of it. She had a jack russell after that, a dog that was forever raiding the cupboard under the sink and seemed to like the taste of soap!
After Gramps died in 1974, she moved away, whether it was to be nearer her son I don’t know, though certainly not to live with him. I didn’t like him much or his stuck up wife, and never forgave him for digging out the rose bushes that were my granddad’s pride and joy.
She ended up in a nursing home on the outskirts of Bath, and as I was living there at the time, it’s possible that I visited her once. To be honest, I can’t remember, and I feel bad about that as she had no other family.
When she died, Mum and Dad came up for the funeral and the three of us attended together. It was 1985 I believe, but again I’m not sure, as I’m tying it in with fostering and who was staying with me at the time. We were kindred spirits in that respect because she’d fostered kids too.
Her funeral was one of the saddest affairs I’ve ever attended.
I’d arranged for a floral tribute from us, and that was the only flowers I can remember.
There were five of us: Mum, Dad, me, her son and his wife.
She was wheeled in on a trolley, words said, and wheeled out again.
No music, no singing, no eulogy, nothing personal.
I don’t even think her son acknowledged any of us.
I couldn’t tell you how old she was. I do remember some of the stories she told me years ago when she was in service, and she was quite a character. She was a qualified Silver Service waitress, and a housekeeper as well as cook. She didn’t have a happy life in her younger days and brought her son up on her own. As far as I knew though she and Gramps were a good match for companionship and she was always smiling whenever we visited.
Happy birthday Yvonne, wherever you are.