Posted on 22nd February 2008

On 24th January, Sheila Stevens (nee Dymock), lost her long battle against cancer. Sheila was my mum's elder sister, and when I was younger we would often travel over to see her, my uncle Wally and my cousins Roy and Sue, when visiting my Gran and my uncle Ivor. Thankfully she passed away peacefully in her sleep, with her family around her. Unfortunately I hadn't seen my aunt in quite some time, and even longer for my cousins. We've stayed in touch through my mum mostly, and we always get to see photos of the grandchilden, and likewise we've sent pictures of DanDan and Ethne. Sue commented how our Christmas cards always stood out, as Nicole always makes the cards and puts DanDan and Ethne on the front. It adds that personal touch. Aside from Wally, Roy and Sue, I also got to meet Roy's wife, Andrea, and son, Sebastian, as well as Sue's son, Joshua, for the first time. It was also the first time in just over 29 years that I met my uncle Peter and about 18 years since I met my cousin Nigel. It was also the first time in a long while I'd seen my cousin James too, as I think I've seen his kids more than him in the last few years :)

My Mum & Aunty Sheila, 1983

My Mum & Aunty Sheila, 1983

It really is a shame that we don't get to meet unless there is a dramatic family event. Andrea did suggest organising a family get together every year, which personally I would love, as Nicole, DanDan and Ethne have only met my cousin David, uncle Ivor and aunty Gaye. We now have quite a big family on my mum's side and it was staggering to realise that there are now I think 10 great grandchildren and 9 grandchildren descended from Nanny and Grandad Dymock. Not staggering in terms of numbers, but the fact that us grandchildren have grown old enough to have kids, and even grandchildren of own. Although as far as I known none of us are grandparents yet, as only Heather, Sue and Jane have kids who are teenagers, and the rest of us all started late, or have yet to start.

The funeral itself went well and the day, although a little chilly, was bright. The sun was just starting to set, looking very picturesque, when we came out to pay our respects by the flower tributes. It was strange driving over to the house for the wake, as I didn't remember any of the route until we pulled into the road, and even then I couldn't remember which house it was. It wasn't that it had changed that much, it was just so strange to see it all as a grown up. I commented to Roy that I always looked up to him when I was a kid and now I'm taller than him. Walking into the house brought back a lot of memories. Sheila's voice greeting us and offering to make us a cup of tea. The cats. And all the family get togethers we had there. I also remember Wally telling Roy off when he started playing his Derek And Clive records to me :)

A few people commented how much my mum looks like Sheila, although she never used to. It's only as she's got older that you can see more of the similarities. It was also very odd seeing Roy and Sue, as even though I know how old they are, I still see them pretty much as they were 20 years ago. Perhaps that's just me wishfully thinking I still look like I'm in my early 20s too ;) Sheila's passing has certainly made me think a little more about my own family. I think we get into the habit of thinking your family are just always going to be there. But it always feels such a shock when they're not. There was a lot of laughter and reminiscing at the wake and although there were definitely touches of sadness, it wasn't there for long. I think Sheila would liked that. I would certainly like to remember my aunt as the way she was when I was a youngster, and I'd rather not dwell on the pain she must have gone through in more recent times.

Floss & Eddy in the 1940s

Floss & Eddy in the 1940s

Just before Christmas, I attended another funeral, for Florence Ess or "Floss" as we all knew her. She was originally engaged to marry my Nana's brother Eddy, but before they could arrange anything, the war came and took him off to the front line. He died before he could return and marry Floss. My Nana (Christine) and Floss had remained good friends, as they were before, right up until Floss died. Floss was 99 and my Nana is 97. Like my aunty Sheila, I hadn't seen Floss in quite sometime, but she always sent birthday cards to us all, including DanDan and Ethne, and we always made sure we sent her one too. I did hope to arrange to call in last year, but we never got to make a trip up to Manchester last year. We had talked about going this year, but alas now she won't get to see DanDan and Ethne in person.

Jacky, 1968

Jacky, 1968

The service at the Macclesfield crematorium was quite an emotional one for my family, as my sister Jacqueline was cremated here in 1968, when I was just 2, and it was the first time I had been back there since. I took some time to walk around the grounds afterwards and I couldn't help but reflect on what might have been. She would have been 40 last year. My younger sister, Lisa, my mum and dad and my Nana attended the church service for Floss, and it was quite warming to see so many people come to pay their respects. The only relative left in the family, was her husband's niece, who was there, everybody else were friends. I hope I have as many friends attend my own funeral when the time comes.

As I was walking around the crematorium gardens, it did cross my mind that this was also where Ian Curtis, singer with Joy Divison, had been cremated. Three people who had all touched my life in different ways were all here in some shape or form. It might sound morbid, but I think I like it to be my final resting place too.

Farewell Sheila, and Floss. Thank you for being a part of my life.


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