Taking part in the Genealogy Blog Party, hosted by Elizabeth at MyDescendantsAncestors.com.
February, and in particular Valentine’s day is now a subdued day. The day in 2020 marks the 6th year since my Mum passed away, just two days before her 67th birthday.
As each year passes, it does not get easier, but I do find myself reflecting on my own family and finding the good in that, as opposed to the depressed view that is easier to display.
I wasn’t sure quite what to write for this post and wrote several times over the last week or so, each time deleting and starting again. I then looked at a selection of photographs and this one is something that showed the love shining through.
A picture is worth a thousands words and I thought that I would share two such photos.
First up is this one, taken at Southend, Essex around 1948, my late Mum with my Grandparents.
My Grandmother, was a no nonsense sort who had a lovely and infectious sense of humour. The whole concept of motherhood was something that happened and I cannot quite imagine my Grandmother in her young years. My Grandfather was fairly similar to my Grandmother, in so much as he dotted on my Mum and had a tormenting sense of humour.
By this point, my Grandparents would have been married, almost a decade, having married in November 1939. There are no wedding photographs of their happy day. My grandmother hated with a passion her photograph being taken and I suspect and can hear her now, saying “George, let’s not bother”. I do so wish that someone had bothered.
At the point of their marriage, my Grandfather was aged 31 years and was living with his both of his parents at Manor Farm, Guildford and a number of siblings with their spouses. My grandmother, aged 26, was living with her sister and brother in law and their growing family, at Guildford, Surrey, as her parents had died in the 1930’s – her father in 1931 and mother in 1937. In 1940 my Grandfather enlisted in the Army and was posted to Sierre Leone until December 1943. He spent some time on home turf, before heading to France, Belgium and the Netherlands. He was demobbed from the Army in 1946 and returned to his former job, at Guildford working for the diary, Unigate, formerly Lymposs Smee where he remained until he retired after more than 30 years service.
My Grandmother, spent the war years working at Guildford laundry. She hated ironing right up until she died and told me the work was hard and hot. The laundry dealt with the washing of military clothes and bedding. She also had at least two evacuees for the duration, one of which remained as close friends up until that 14 year old evacuee passed away about a decade ago. Out of the time of war, something great was forged and carried on another two generations.
Having been demobbed in 1946 and resuming his paid work, my Grandmother I guess reverted to being a housewife. Mum was born 16 February 1947 which was known as the deep freeze. Her birth registered at Guildford on 19th February 1947. It was brutal, freezing cold, rations continuing and their were frequent power cuts. Mum was wrapped and place in a drawer of the chest of drawers to keep snug and safe.
Each summer my Grandparents would head off to Southend to visit my Grandfather’s sister and her husband. Those visits carried on for decades only ceasing when my Aunt died in the mid 1980’s having outlived her brother and husband. This photo is one of close to a hundred or so that exist showing the family at the farm, Southend or even Devon where they holidayed.
The second photograph is one that long time readers may well have seen previously. It is though my absolute favourite of Mum. My Grandmother was functional. She was not the sort to have used ribbons and bows. If something was not quite right, she would say “oh, blow it, let’s not worry about X”, whatever X was. This photograph therefore speaks volumes to me, Mum is wearing the pretty blue dress with matching bow and the dainty shoes. She is standing in such a petite way. A diva for sure.
The photograph at some point before I inherited it became torn. There are no markings to tell where it was taken, but I suspect Guildford at a photograph called Donnivan Box as that matches with several others from around the same time. The bow is with me now, although the dress has not survived.
When Mum was just four and a half she contracted Polio. She spent 10 days at home, with the Doctor believing Mum had flu. The delay in a formal diagnosis undoubtedly saved her from declining further. She was admitted to hospital, just outside of Woking, Surrey where she spent six months seeing her parents through a glass window, just once a week, long before the days when paediatric wards existed in the way we know of them now. Before the days when nurses wore uniforms with teddy bears on and provided space for parents to stay by their child’s side. Mum was discharged just before Christmas and embarked upon more than a decade of visits to the hospital. Her only obvious sign of the polio was the lack of a calf muscle in the left leg, she avoided both calipers and having to be in an iron lung.
Mum retained a deep routed fear of hospitals up until she died. She was like my Grandmother in so many ways and I see myself sharing a great number of those characteristics. Stubborn, potentially argumentative, independent and very loyal.
We owe so much to those that walk before us and perhaps that it was right that, someone who was so loved should leave us on Valentine’s Day.
In loving memory of my Grandparents George Butcher (1908-1974) and Lilian Edith Butcher nee Matthews (1912-1995) and my Mum, Christine Joyce Butcher (1947-2014).