Friday, 25 November 2016

Mum's Deathiversary and how people in Camden Town bizarrely stood still in the street #BritishDadStuff


"Awww Neil. Not that picture?" She'd say.

You know that you are a Great British Dad when...
...you realise what your parents did too.


It's Friday - the day I put out the "difficult post"

Funny that today is also the third anniversary of Mum dying (passing on feels like such a limp way of avoiding it).

And the only word I can find for it is her Deathiversary.

But there is a couple of really nice things that happened right after.

We had a "Celebrant" speak at her funeral - lovely guy called Andrew.

He kindly offered to write a eulogy about her life, but my sister wrote a brilliant one instead - put below as an awesome thumbnail for her to live online for as long as Google lasts.

We asked the Celebrant if he ever found it hard, saying someone else's words about someone else.
"Only once" he gleamed.

There was a family who weren't rough so much as outspoken. And he told us about the 20 minute sweary rant he delivered for them: calling out who had F &*%ed over who, and caused the deceased f- ing grief over the years.

The other thing that made us smile was on the route to the crematorium.

It took in pretty much every street Mum drove us around as kids: past Camden Park Stores for last minute gravy (now flats) round the Brecknock and our childhood alcoholic Dentists, towards our primary school and up Parliament Hill Fields where we'd play after.

A few minutes in though, I noticed a man who stood still, and bowed his head to us.

It was odd and extremely respectful.

And then someone else did the same.

Then more kept coming.

People stopping, on busy Central London streets, turning towards the hearse, lowering their heads and sometimes crossing themselves.

I thought it was old people.
But it wasn't.
Young men in scruffy clothes, stopped, bowed and crossed.

It was lovely.

And then I got it.

Maybe it's a club. One day they've been here, in the hearse too.

They didn't know it, but this is who it was for:

"Vera was born in London in 1943. The youngest of five siblings, she was a bit of a miracle child, because her mum Alice had thought for years that she couldn't have any more children - a doctor had to explain to her that she hadn't gone through 'the change', as she had thought - she just had malnutrition because she was feeding all her children and not herself during the war.

And while the initial shock was terrifying to her because she was completely blind, Vera was loved from the moment she was born, and she grew up being her mum's eyes into the world.

Her dad George, who was an ambulance driver and paramedic in wartime London, ran the local St John's Ambulance group for decades, and Vera would go with him all throughout her childhood and teens.

One of her earliest memories was of going to an event with her dad when they witnessed a bus run over a boy, and her dad used all the bandages intended to last the entire event on this one boy and saved his life. She was so proud to be his daughter every day, but especially that day. He had taught her skills for life, and her knowledge of medical facts never left her and she would regularly surprise doctors with how much she knew.

It was in the early 60s when Ian, her husband to be, would be by his delivery van every day at the same time she would walk past him on her way to work every morning and that's how they met. It was a relationship and marriage that would span 45 years and they both commented frequently that neither of them had ever wanted to be with anyone else.

One thing everyone will always remember about Vera is how incredibly well turned out she always was: in the teeniest clothes, the flirtiest pencil skirts and her black stiletto heels. In the 60s, she made all her own clothes, and it's impossible to find a photo of her where you can't see her underwear, her hemlines were always so short.

She would have great fun dancing at The Lyceum on Friday nights then, when she met Ian, enjoyed many dates at concerts, the theatre, and all the best new restaurants in London. They even saw The Beatles on one of their dates… but both remember it with disappointment, as all they could hear was girls screaming for the entire concert.

When Neil came along, then Carolyn, Vera absolutely loved being a mum and dedicating herself to the happiness of her family. She had many secretarial jobs over the years to make ends meet and pay for the family holiday once a year.

She was justly proud of her high WPM, her ability to do shorthand when many struggled to learn it, and the fact that she had so many jobs and got every one that she ever went for. Among them, she enjoyed her friendships at the N.N.E.B - especially the day her and the rest of the secretaries beat all the chief executives at a game of Trivial Pursuit(!), her time as secretary of a school for mentally and physically disabled children, and mostly enjoyed her last job working for the world-class neurologists who diagnosed and helped children with rare neurological problems.

She would often say how painfully shy she was as a child and young adult, but to anyone who knew her after that time would find that hard to imagine. She was outstanding at sticking up for herself, and her family, and had an often outrageous sense of humour, which was endearing to everyone who ever met and knew her.

She also had a fierce sense of independence and inner strength that saw her through her illness right to the end. When the doctors said she would never walk up stairs again, she went home and walked up and down the stairs - 5 times, just to be sure she could say, and these are her words here, "Sod you!" to them.

In fact, there were frequent outbursts of "Oh sod!" and, her favourite expletive, "Oh balls!" when she struggled to do something or keep hold of something. But she never let her multiple sclerosis get the better of her or stop her from doing what she wanted to do.

There were symptoms she never wanted to get, and maybe it was her determined will that made sure she didn't. And she wanted to make it back to her own home, which she did: she was not known as the Comeback Kid for nothing.

And when all else failed, her favourite medicine was a little puff of cannabis whenever she could. She was horrified when her children first suggested it to her, having read many times how helpful it could be to manage her MS symptoms, and once they had convinced her that no, she wouldn't soon become a crack addict if she tried it, she had a go and found it really helpful.

And when Ian and Vera were briefly broken into a few years ago, she took great joy in the fact that she had reported her cannabis stolen to the police and they then told her they might have to caution her for that... although they never did.

As mentioned before, she would often make those around her laugh.

If it wasn't her habit of accidentally always revealing the ending of a book or TV show or movie right at the start (because she had seen and read and knew it all!), it was her ability to crack a joke whenever she could. One evening round at her daughter's flat when she was talking her through their wedding plans, Carolyn said "oh look, it's only 8 O'Clock and Andy's fallen asleep". And Vera said deadpan to her, "Well, it's all that talk of weddings and stuff, isn't it?!"

And when she saw her grandchildren two weeks ago, who were always fascinated by her wheelchair and ceiling hoists, she encouraged them to wave to her when she was being hoisted into the next room by telling them, "Look! Nanny's flying!"

And she was thrilled to see both her children marry the love of their lives in the last 15 months and she was so proud of the choices they both made.
[EDIT FOR INTERNET PRIVACY]
Although it was a mission, she made it to Neil and Becky's wedding, looking as glamorous as ever.

She always loved a party and this time was no different: starting the night before with a joint in [EDIT] on the way down, giggling and cracking jokes all the way, she was also the first guest to enjoy a couple of drinks and get tipsy for the first time in years.

Then when Carolyn and Andy decided to get married on holiday earlier this year and not tell anyone else till they returned, Vera was incredibly supportive to both of them and loved the fact that she knew their secret and promised faithfully to keep it. And she did - only revealing it to every carer, nurse, doctor, and… well, told the secret to absolutely everyone she spoke to!

Vera was warm, loyal, funny, caring, super-kind and forever generous to everyone around her. And she truly touched the hearts of everyone she met."

Vera Mossey, 1943-2013


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