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Farewell Mum


It is with immense sadness I write to say that my dear Mum passed away, at the great age of 92, on October 30th.

I was so glad that Michael and I were by her bedside that evening when she slipped quietly off to another place.

Some of you lovely GoY folk will know that Mum was diagnosed with Vascular Dementia back in 2008 and, with help from friends and family, she managed to continue living home alone in her house, where she had lived for 62 years, up until April 2015.

Mum moved to a Care Home for a year, then, following a fall, needed 24 hour nursing care and became a resident in a wonderful nursing home close by.

We chose to treat her funeral as a celebration of her long and very full life, with a female celebrant speaking about Mum on behalf of the family.
I really hope you won’t mind if I indulge these memories with you.

In 1967, aged 41, Mum joined the Royal British Legion Women’s Section and started collecting and fund raising for the Poppy Appeal. In 1992 she was awarded a Merit Badge for 25 years of voluntary collecting.

From 1972 to 1993 she sold D.M.I. goods (Disabled Men’s Industries), which were small items such as key fobs, book marks, manicure sets etc., made by ex-servicemen and women, handicapped through war or illness. Mum successfully raised a record £600 in 1991, she was then aged 65. She retired from this in 1993, having set up her table of goods at fetes and bazaars over the years, in our and surrounding villages.

Mum was awarded a Certificate of Appreciation for splendid voluntary effort on behalf of the Poppy Appeal, and in 1982 received a county of Sussex Certificate of Appreciation for her service.

We were so proud of her in July 1995 when her local RBL branch granted her permission to wear a Merit Award Bar in recognition of her outstanding service to the RBL Women’s Section. She was later awarded Branch Life Membership. There was a time when Dad was President of the local branch, thereby Mum became the First Lady. Not bad for a girl who left school at 13 with no qualifications!

One of my daughter’s friends made me smile when she said she called my Mum ‘Pocket Nan’ as she always wanted to put Mum in her pocket and take her home! Oh, bless you!

This is the best photo I have of Mum in her twilight years, before the awful dementia really took a hold.

Sadly, the Royal British Legion Women’s Section ceased to function in October 2016, something I didn’t have the heart to tell Mum about as she would have been so disappointed.

I hope to be back on GoY before too long and hope you are all keeping safe and well.

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I am really sorry Shirley but your Mum has had a very rewarding and happy life and you must have many lovely memories of her.
I too was in the Ladies Section of the British Legion until it ended, plus moving away from the village meant we didn't get back there very much. I used to enjoy selling the poppies at our nearby supermarket and know that your Mum would have loved it too. I also used to march on Remembrance Day wearing my Dad's medals. My Dad was also the chairmen years ago and Mum on the Ladies Section.
You must be so proud of your Mum.
They are lovely photos of your Mum too. I think dementia must be one of the worst illnesses that anyone can get and must have been so sad for you when your Mum got worse.
Take care, love Rose xxx

22 Nov, 2019


Hi Shirley
How very sad for you both...I did wonder where you had got to....missed your comments.
What an outstanding history your mum leaves...she looks a very caring,kind person from the photo.You will feel that ghastly void for awhile.
I will always remember the day you said she had was my birthday the same day.
Take care of Julia x

22 Nov, 2019


So sorry Shirley to hear your Mum has passed away. What a wonderful, fulfilling life she must have led, you must be very proud of her and miss her greatly.
Sending all my love and kindest thoughts to you..Xx

22 Nov, 2019


Get a plant or hardy tree to remember her by. Every year
it will come up or produce leaves, and you will be comforted. I have a plastic 'memorial' for my brother in my garden, no one can take it away. I remember him every day, thats what he would have liked.

22 Nov, 2019


At peace now its an awful disease xxx

22 Nov, 2019


Oh Shirley, how very sad for you. I was thinking of you only yesterday and wondering how you were, so now we know that you were with your beloved Mum. It was lovely to read about all her community-minded activities ... no wonder you are proud of her. She sounds a lovely lady and I know you will miss her very much.

Sending love and hugs. xx

22 Nov, 2019


Rose ... Mum used to to do door to door collecting for the Poppy Appeal and when her arthritic knees made it difficult for her to walk far my OH and I took it on. We spent longer explaining to folk where Mum was than actually collecting!

Julia ... thanks for your comment. Mum certainly was a very kind and caring lady.

Thank you Janey for your kind words ... :o)

Goldenoldie ... I have a pretty apricot colour Rose ready to plant in my garden ... just like Mum had in hers.

Brian ... you're so right about the dementia. It changed her personality in so many ways, none for the better, with very few happy times in the final months.

Sheila ... our lives will certainly change now Mum has gone. We feel a huge sense of relief for her, no more confusion and sadness. Thank you so much for the virtual hug!! :o) x

22 Nov, 2019


Sending you my love Shirley. I know that the last few years your Mum had excellent care, and she lived to a great age. I remember the tough times when you had to make very hard decisions...but you did well and always with love. Your Mum looks lovely....and she clearly gave generously of her own time for others' benefit. What a great life, well-lived. Bless you and RIP Shirley's Mum xx

22 Nov, 2019


sending my heartfelt sympathy. She was clearly a very special person to the wider community as well as to the family. The photos are beautiful. I am glad the celebration of her life went well.
hugs to you and the family.

22 Nov, 2019


So sorry Shirley, your dear Mum was a wonderful lady and lots of people will have treasured memories of her, I hope you're OK x

22 Nov, 2019


Shirley I am sorry to hear about your mother. It's a very sad time for you. Please accept my deepest sympathy. I know how you did all you could for her over many years.
She seems to have had a full life and made a valuable contribution to society. You can be very proud of her. xxx

22 Nov, 2019


Karen, you will remember when I used to maintain Mum's garden and just could not get her to abandon those rows of Orange Marigolds, edging the straight borders! We did have some fun though, a special memory of when the soil in a hanging basket started 'popping' as we sat with a cuppa. Mum had added water retaining granules but not read the instructions ... cue the exploding basket ... so funny!

Sbg, many thanks for your kind words. We put out a little display of Mum's framed Certificates and medals at the wake, together with a scrap book she had made of newspaper cuttings from the local paper reporting on the Women's Section achievements. We knew nothing of this book until we cleared the house as Mum kept it to herself, so typical of her!

Dawn, I am fine, probably because we feel we lost our dear Mum some time ago and had been called in so many times to the nursing home when Mum was, allegedly, at end of life. She hung on in there for as long as possible, bless her.

Thanks you so much Hywel, you were very sympathetic to me over the years, for which I was, and am, very grateful. :o) x

22 Nov, 2019


Yes, Shirley, you must have grieved losing you Mum years ago, it's all very sad, time now to take care of yourself.

22 Nov, 2019


So sorry to read this,Shirley,I too wondered why I hadn't seen you around for a while..Your mum had a wonderful life,and was lucky to have you as a Daughter,and Michael as her son in law,you both did your very best for her,and now she is at peace at last.Dementia is such a cruel illness..
I love the photo's you have posted,she seemed a very happy lady,and certainly did a lot to help others..
It's time to take care of yourselves now,you couldn't have done any more than you already did for her.sending our love to you

22 Nov, 2019


Sandra, many thanks for your comments. Mum really was a lovely lady, as so many people told us on the day of her funeral. In one of the newspaper items she had kept, she said "I just love doing this and don't want any recognition". I will send you a PM this afternoon ... :o) x

23 Nov, 2019


Thank you for sharing your celebration of your dear mum's life with us. What an inspirational lady. She is very typical of the lifetime of service devoted to our country by so many women who did not think of themselves as being anything special. Many lives are so much richer for the quiet, kind generous efforts she made for them and their families. I am glad to know you have so many wonderful memories of her which will outweigh the sadness of the last wee while.
The rose you have chosen will be a happy link to her.

23 Nov, 2019


You’ve posted a lovely blog about your Mum, Shirley. You’ve done her proud.
Such a horrible disease, heartbreaking for any family. You’ve some wonderful memories of her which will remain in your heart and mind forever. x

23 Nov, 2019


So sorry to hear of your loss, what a wonderful person she must have been to do so much for others for so many years. I do hope after this dreadful illness you find some comfort in that she is at peace now and you will be able to remember her as she was for most of her life Denise xx

23 Nov, 2019


So very sorry Shirley but now your lovely mum is at peace, I know how hard it has been for such a long time, I'm glad you turned the wake into a celebration of her life, remembering the happy times is the best thing any of us can do at such times. Look after yourselves now Shirley, xx.

23 Nov, 2019


Love the ‘popping candy’ compost story! :)

23 Nov, 2019


Scotsgran, lovely comment from you and it is much appreciated.

Thanks Kate, some family members gave me some old black and white photos of their relatives with Mum. Kind of them.

Denise, I think it may take a while to erase the last sad few years of Mum but I'm concentrating on the happier times.

Thanks Sue, you have had to suffer a bereavement recently so you will be feeling much as I am. Stay positive ... :o)

Yes indeed Karen, it had us in fits of laughter!

23 Nov, 2019


So sorry to hear your sad news, but how lovely to celebrate her "life well lived" X

23 Nov, 2019


Hello Shirley sorry to hear of your mums passing, she was a lovely person who did so much to help others, a very kind and dear person and mum to you who has left you with many lovely memories for you to cherish, may love and peace be with you.

23 Nov, 2019


So sorry for your sadness but you were lucky to have your Mum for many happy years, and so good that you celebrated her life. Take care.

24 Nov, 2019


Such sad news, I hope you can find some solace in your garden. My thoughts are with you at this difficult time.

24 Nov, 2019


Sorry for your loss Shirley. I lost my mum from Alzheimers in 2011 but the woman she had been went long before that. No wonder they call it the long goodbye. Chin up, it will get better over time.

24 Nov, 2019


Ba, Julien, Sunnydais & Amsterdam ... many thanks for your comments.

Thorneyside, I too feel we lost our dear Mum some time ago as her personality had changed so much. To hear her swearing for the first time came as a complete shock! There was a time when a friend of hers from years back was in the same nursing home. Both ladies were eating together at the dining table once, but neither of them knew one another by then. So very sad.

24 Nov, 2019


What a wonderful life story - a great deal to show for a life well lived. Her love and concern really show on her face. It's so kind of you to share her story with us - its such an inspiration.

24 Nov, 2019


Stera, I wasn't too sure whether to write this blog or not! Glad I did now ... many thanks for your kind words.

25 Nov, 2019


I'm so sorry to hear this Shirley your mum had a wonderful full life you will have happy memories to fall back on , remember the good times ,take care of yourself x

25 Nov, 2019


Hi Shirley..
Very sad to read of your mother's departing. You've made a magnificent blog in her memory.

Commendable that she sold so many items in aid of DMI. In my sewing box, I have a small hand-made needle-case, in the form of a cloth book, which I inherited. It has a label sewn inside ...
'Soldiers Embroidery Industry, 42 Ebury Street.
Made by the totally disabled'.

I still use this little cloth case to keep my sewing needles tidy and together. I'm guessing mine is from the 1920's, and I think it is actually a 'collector's item'. There is quite a lot of info. online about the SEI..

Here's a sample ...

Operating between 1918 and 1955 the Disabled Soldiers’ Embroidery Industry was perhaps the most successful and high-profile scheme that aimed to help disabled combatants, returning from the First World War, back to employment through the small-scale production of domestic and luxury textiles marketed to middle class and aristocratic consumers.

I'm wondering if the DMI was in any way connected with the SEI.

Your mother was a marvellous supporter of The British Legion. I had a friend who died some years ago in her mid-nineties. She had been very 'high up' indeed in The British Legion .. I can't recall her exact 'title'.

At her beautiful village church funeral, the Legion honoured her in an amazing way, with a ceremonial tribute in the church of banners, parading, and flags etc. It made the funeral extra-special and very memorable. The Legion is certainly an excellent organisation.

I hope you'll be able to enjoy the festive season with lots of special memories of your wonderful mother.
x x x

25 Nov, 2019


I am very sorry to read about your Mum, it is such a sad, difficult time for you.
She must have been a real inspiration to everyone who knew her and I hope you will remember the happy times when she was fit and well and active. She would want that.
Sending love to you.

25 Nov, 2019


Amy, Mum certainly kept herself busy throughout her life and was a great home-maker. :o)

Terra, I remember Mum being a Standard Bearer twice, both times she disliked it as was so worried in case she dropped the Standard but she coped admirably both times!

I found that really interesting about the SEI and found the following information:

Ernest Thesiger was considered a world-class expert in petit point embroidery. His book Adventures in Embroidery was published by The Studio in 1941, with a revised edition published in 1947.

After his hands were severely wounded in France during WWI, he spearheaded the creation of the Disabled Soldiers’ Embroidery Industry, which provided work at home by which bedridden and shell-shocked veterans could supplement their pensions.

In 1938, Ernest’s work was included in the International Tapestry Exhibition, which traveled the world to several major cities including Sydney, Australia.

On April 12, 1955 Ernest was featured with his embroidery on the BBC TV program “For Women: Leisure and Pleasure.”

25 Nov, 2019


Shirley, that extra embroidery info. is very interesting. Thank you for including it.

I can imagine your mother being worried as a Standard Bearer ... so many eyes watching to see if the flags etc. were carried correctly... but I'm sure she did it all very adeptly !

25 Nov, 2019


This so interesting,Shirley.,thank you ,and to Terra too, for sharing both posts ,for us all to read,and admire.There is so much we don't know about these wonderful people, who helped to make life better for the Disabled.You must be so proud that your mum was a part of this ,Shirley,she was such an inspirational lady.I for one,hadn't heard of this before either. xx

25 Nov, 2019


Sandra, it's surprising just how much we learn from this gardening forum!! :o)))

28 Nov, 2019


Lol.Shirley..Goy 's version of Open University ! :o)) xx

29 Nov, 2019


Sandra, without the fees! :o))

29 Nov, 2019


Naturally ! :o))

29 Nov, 2019


A tad late, so my apologies Shirley, I was only thinking about your Mum the other day, wondering how she was, so I was sorry to hear she had passed on, reading your blog, she was quite a gal!! wasn't she, you must have been so proud of her, lots of happy memories, sending a virtual hug to you both......xx

29 Nov, 2019


Thank you Dotty, you're right, as I have so many happy memories of my lovely Mum.

30 Nov, 2019


What a wonderful blog, thank you. A tough one to write without doubt but such a heart-warming story of a lovely lady. Dementia is so cruel; like your Mum my Dad changed over the years as he succumbed to Alzheimers, becoming very bitter as initially he too realised what was happening. As you say, it is hard to reach beyond the memories of the Dementia years to the better ones but with time it does get easier. Hugs.

1 Dec, 2019


Xela, thank you for reading this blog which I posted as a few GoY members have read of my gardening for Mum over the years, with some photos of her little garden.

It really is a cruel illness which takes the person you know and love from you. I treasure the times when I could speak with Mum about her life in the 40's, a time she often referred to and, thanks to my reading her diaries from that era, we were able to have a few laughs! Going to "the pictures" and dance halls seemed to be the entertainment ... :o))

1 Dec, 2019


Thanks for looking in Paul ... :o)

8 Dec, 2019


Only just seen this Shirley, I am so sorry, and how great that you were with her. My condolences. It sounds like she had a very eventful life. Love to you all xx

20 Dec, 2019


Hello Sylvia, long time no see! PM on the way soon ... :o)

21 Dec, 2019

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