Wednesday, 28 March 2012

R.I.P Flo 6 August 1925 - 28 March 2012





Today we said goodbye to Marion's mum Flo who passed away peacefully in the early hours of this morning. After being with her for many hours it seems tragic that she slipped away when we had gone to snatch a couple of hours sleep and we both feel devastated that this could happen so cruelly.


Flo, with her loud South London accent, was a very unlikely Scotswoman but she was indeed Scottish and spent her very early days there before her father - his lungs damaged through working as a miner - found a job as a gardener in a large house in Richmond. It was a job that he loved and Flo had a very happy childhood growing up with her sisters and her brother in leafy Surrey.


Happiness is something that went hand in hand with Flo. She was a very positive character who never had a bad word to say about anybody; her glass was more often half full than half empty and she turned the Les Dawson view on mothers-in-law on it's head - I can not remember ever having to grumble about my mum-in-law other than perhaps a few groans when she repeated some of her well worn anecdotes.


Our favourite story was about the time that she worked in a photo processing studio. Her boss pulled her to one side one day to tell her that a customer had been on the phone to complain. It seems that Flo, in attempting to prepare a perfect set of prints, had corrected the client's holiday snaps of his break in Italy and managed to do something that had eluded the Italians for hundreds of years and straightened the leaning tower of Pisa.


She married Dudley (Doug), a dashing merchant seaman and the one true love of her life. When we cleared her flat recently we found so many beautifully affectionate cards that they had sent each other and Flo was truly heartbroken when she lost Doug in 1995. They had two daughters, Susan and Marion, five grandchildren and six great grandchildren. Flo loved then all equally. She never forgot a birthday and was proud of every one of them.


If Doug had not been successful in his career with CAV, I would never have met Marion so I owe him a huge debt of gratitude. A skilled engineer, he was transferred to a management role in Merseyside in the mid 1960's and settled down in Ainsdale. The couple made some wonderful lifelong friends through Doug's job, Alan and Ann here in the north, Bill and Joan and Doris and Jack in the south and they shared so many happy days with those close friends, some recorded for posterity on Doug's trusty cine camera. We watched those happy scenes with Flo just a few weeks ago and she was delighted to have those films to jog her failing memory.


When CAV relocated Doug to their Rochester plant the couple made the move back south and settled in Rainham where they had some very happy times. Flo loved her job at the Motorway Service Station where she made so many friends and Doug managed to get back afloat for the first time since leaving the navy and enjoyed sailing competitively on the Medway - Flo had a cabinet full of his trophies. We were fortunate to be close to them for a couple of years while we lived in Kent and our kids were able to get to know their Granddad and Nanny before they retired to Spain.


Again in Spain, Flo's friendly manner and willingness to talk to anybody brought the couple plenty of friends and Flo was the life and soul of the little English pub in Villa Martin where she and Doug became regulars before his life and his retirement was cut horribly short through illness.


Flo depended on Doug for everything and we were amazed when she came back with us to Southport and became totally independent and settled into her own flat in Stirling Court. She coped stoically and very bravely with two bouts of cancer and came through them strongly. Again, a recurring theme throughout her life, Flo made plenty of real and genuine friends, particularly Enid and Sheila, Ruth, Tina and my mum Ann. I know that, like us, they all will miss her and her stories, even the one about the tower of Pisa. 


She was very happy in Churchtown and was a well known figure in the local shops where she established a very particular weekly routine that she followed religiously. She loved to talk about Liverpool and part of the routine was an appointment by the radio on Saturday afternoons to listen to the match on Merseyside. Sometimes she wore her treasured shirt with Gerrard 8 on the back. It was only when she started to depart from her routine that we realised that she was becoming unwell and unable to care for herself.


Fortunately we found an extremely caring home in Peacehaven. She didn't want to be there but she was made very welcome and looked after with a lot of love and kindness for which we are very grateful.


Flo had a saying about things that she liked. If she really loved something she would describe it as 'quite nice'. All I can say is that she wasn't just 'quite nice', she was very very nice and we will miss her deeply.