I see my blog mainly as somewhere to post my artistic efforts and keep in touch with like-minded crafters, rather than as a personal diary. However, since what talents I may have in that direction came to me from my parents, I feel that this is an appropriate place to pay tribute to them.
My father passed away on Good Friday morning 2010, after a long illness. He was the sort of person who enjoyed helping others, and gave unstintingly of his time and energy in doing so. Born in 1922, he was brought up by a stepmother (his own mother died when he was just three) and though he won a scholarship to art college, she would not allow him to take it up but made him go straight out to work when he left school at 14. It was then that he met my mother, also aged 14, at their local church in Leeds, when he was in the harmonica band and she in the church choir. My mother then also joined the band, and over their lifetime they gave pleasure to many with their music. I have fond memories of family get-togethers with mum & dad on their harmonicas, & mum's uncle on the piano, and all singing along to the old music hall songs which they loved. It was often embarrassing when I, from the age of 8 or so, was also made to do my "party piece" on the piano in front of the assembled company, but I have them to thank for encouraging my love of music, leading to my subsequent career.
They became engaged at 17, and married at 20, in 1942, only to be separated for a while because of the war. Mum was a Land Girl, posted to a farm in Somerset, while Dad went to Orkney as an aircraft fitter and then South Africa with the Fleet Air Arm. After the war Mum went to join him in South Africa and they would probably have emigrated there had not my mother's father become seriously ill, causing their return.They set up home in Leeds, and when I and my sister and brother came along they provided a secure and happy childhood for us. Dad worked his way up from shop floor to become MD of an engineering firm, and Mum, once we children were old enough to be independent, ran a highly regarded playgroup for 3 to 5 year olds.
Sadly my mum's retirement years were blighted by illness, firstly severe arthritis, resulting in two hip and one knee replacements. For as long as she could she kept busy, making floral displays and various other craft items which she gave to local charities for them to sell and raise funds. Then she was stricken with bowel cancer, needing emergency surgery, from which she made a miraculous recovery. It was therefore a great blow, some time later, to learn that she had developed Alzheimer's disease. Dad looked after her all this time. She could be a difficult patient, but he never complained. It was not until he too, devastatingly fell victim first to Alzheimer's and then lung cancer, that we were able to persuade him that he must accept help. They went to live with my sister, and even then Dad insisted on doing as much as he could for Mum. Despite their troubles, they both continued to delight in their family, including grandchildren and great grandchildren.
Mum's passing away in January 2009 I think hastened Dad's own. He simply did not know what to do without her, hardly surprising when they had been together for a remarkable 72 years. Their partnership was an example and inspiration to many people, and they will be greatly missed by many, who will remember them with gratitude.