This is the post I knew I was going to have to make soon, and have been dreading. I hope my regular readers will forgive me a personal post in the middle of one of the worst fortnights of my life.
On April 14th 2015 my lovely Mum, Kathy Prince, wife to my Dad Laurie for almost 70 years, passed away peacefully in her sleep after suffering declining health for several months now.
This is my favourite photograph of her, and the one I see every day in my hall. A fun-loving, attractive and stylish lady, this is how she'd like to be remembered.
As well as being a much loved Wife, Mother, Grandma and Great-grandma, my Mum had many sides to her life that were easy to miss – until we pulled them all together for the Eulogy that will be spoken at her funeral on Friday.
Here are some of the highlights.
In the 1939-1945 war Mum:
- Played the piano for the forces canteen
- Worked in Appleby Frodingham steelworks on a comptometer, calculating specifications for the hulls of warships
- Less successfully she started knitting a scarf for the servicemen – but the war finished first!
During those war years she met and fell in love with my Dad who was working for the war effort in the engineering department at the same steelworks.
They were married in December 1945 – but only after Mum had delivered her usual round of daily newspapers on her bicycle for her parents' newsagency business!
In 1950 Mum and Dad moved to a newsagency business in Bridlington, first as tenants – but they were such a successful team that they were able to buy the premises and business after just 4 years.
When they finally retired from the long hours of the newsagency trade they didn't settle to the quiet life of retirement, so they bought a jeweller's business and made a success of that as a retirement – until they finally sold it after 10 years trading.
Mum loved all things musical, and was very talented. As well as playing the piano in the forces canteen….
- She loved ballroom and Latin American dancing, passing exams to a professional standard and winning several competitions. Her gorgeous dresses were the stuff of dreams for me as a little girl.
- She was an accomplished accordion player and often entertained family and friends at parties (with me hiding upstairs listening, long after I was supposed to be in bed asleep)
- Having retired from both shops, Mum played her keyboard at local hotels and nursing homes, in return for donations to charity, and Dad was her “roadie”! Often my sons were co-opted (or bribed!) to sing and delight the “old-folk” (who were occasionally younger than Mum and Dad).
Mum was also a well respected member of the local community and worked tirelessly for Bridlington charities for very many years.
- She served for many years in the local branch of Soroptimist International, a world-wide volunteer service organization for business and professional women. SI works to improve the lives of girls and women, locally and world-wide. She was president of her local branch of SI in the 1970s and continued as an active “Senior Soroptimist” until very recently.
- Also in the 70s my Dad was elected as an Independent local councillor for Bridlington, and when he became Deputy Mayor, Mum served as Deputy Mayoress.
- For many years she worked tirelessly for the Bridlington League of Hospital Friends and in October 2014, during a long stay in the local hospital she had championed even before it opened, she was presented with a “Long Service Certificate” in recognition of 59 years of voluntary service.
Looking back on this record I marvel that Mum was so involved with all her service roles yet STILL found time to be, first and foremost, a generous and loving Mum. She was always ready to test my sister and I on homework, attend all school events (sometimes in outrageous hats!), while still being actively involved in the family business.
Yet she managed it all so well that we hardly even noticed all the other duties she carried out alongside her main role as Mum and Wife. She was also a loving daughter to her own parents – the original source of our family business.
Mum kept her brain sharp with cross-words and playing cards until her declining eyesight prevented these. As a teenager I found her a formidable Scrabble opponent but she softened my defeats by our raids on the shop for a small box of Black Magic to accompany our matches. Dad pretended he didn't notice the depleted stock!
Mum's determined fighting spirit helped her overcome many health issues, including fighting cancer twice and bearing two knee replacements.
Mum and Dad were a devoted couple, married for over 69 years, with never a cross word. They were always at the helm of and a tower of strength to a close family community that expanded to welcome various partners, and currently includes 4 grand-children and 4 great grandchildren.
After her most recent long stay in hospital in the autumn of 2014 all Mum wanted was to return home to sit beside my Dad, so that they could hold hands and reminisce, as they had done for many years, content in each others' company. She came home in time for Christmas – and she cleaned her plate of the magnificent Christmas Lunch that my daughter-in-law cooked her.
We saw her most recently on (UK) Mothering Sunday when she seemed to have “rallied” somewhat, and we were confidently making plans to visit again for her birthday in May. Sadly that was too ambitious.
Mum died peacefully in her sleep on 14th April 2015 in the home she loved, with her devoted husband, Laurie, by her side. Her suffering is over and she is at peace, but for those of us left behind, her loss from the family leaves a gaping hole that can never be filled.
I thank her for the business training and work ethic that she drilled into me – but more than any of that, for the Motherly love and concern and devotion that, to our shame, we all too often took for granted.
Thanks for everything Mum, you're the best, and we'll never forget you.
Family thanks are also due to the UK NHS and in particular her carers and the Bridlington medical team that gave her care and treatment second to none.