For a long time they tried to have children but none arrived so in 1961 they adopted me. I was nearly 2 years old then but they first started looking after me when I was just 13 months old. Mum often spoke about her desire to have another child but Dad always said that they couldn't afford it, shame really because I would have liked a brother or sister. My favourite bedtime story was when Mum would tell me how they had gone to the Children's Home and picked me out specially and took me home. In fact my earliest memory is playing peek a boo with my father outside the Home and watching a poodle walk by.
Her mother had gone blind before I was born and Mum would help her father take care of her. She would go to their house every weekday while Dad was at work and when Gran was really ill she moved in with them for quite a long time. When she died in 1969 Mum carried on looking after Granddad. He would visit us twice a week and she went there the other days. He used to cook the most delicious pies with meat and vegetables and even though he once gave me the recipe I can't make them like he did. Because Douglas never married I was the only grandchild and consequently I was spoiled rotten by him.
On the weekends Mum and Dad would go sailing. They had a small boat and would race it at the local sailing club, Tamar River Sailing Club. Holidays were taken in whatever place the Dayboat Championships were being held and we all enjoyed meeting up with old friends. Mum never really liked sailing, she only went to keep Dad quiet and she liked it when he got someone else to crew for him. This wasn't very often though because he used to lose his temper in the boat and shout and swear something cruel, which is probably why I hated sailing! She did like the socialising though and we went to several dinner dances.
This is a picture of them receiving a prize after one such sailing event. I think Mum had had a couple of Port and lemons because she has lovely rosy cheeks!
In the last few years they joined a little social club and went dancing every couple of weeks, until her leg got so bad that she could hardly walk. Even then Dad took her there and she would listen to the music, watch the others dance and chat to nearly everyone there. That was one of the things about my Mum, she made time for everybody and she always made you feel like you were important.
Mum never really had much free time but she did like to potter in the garden and grow the occasional flower, herbs were splashed around there too, especially mint.
In most situations she was unflappable but when it came to fire she kinda lost it. Twice the chip-pan caught fire and both times she either tried to move it or throw water over it. Needless to say she was burnt on both occasions, once quite badly, but it was one lesson she never grasped.
I never saw her afraid of anything, spiders, slugs, snails, but she did have one phobia. The dentist. In all the time I was growing up, although she took me, she never once saw a dentist about her own teeth. When she died she still had a few teeth left albeit a bit worn down and when she had toothache she would suck on a clove. I asked her about this once but I don't remember her answer.
When I was growing up I seemed to have this weird sense of humour and my Mum always said to me that I would laugh even if the cat's tail was on fire, one day I proved her right. Our cat Mischief used to sleep on a pile of newspapers beside the cooker and one day they somehow caught fire. Luckily we spotted it before it took hold and after getting Jenny outside I returned to douse the fire. What I didn't realise at that time was that the cat's tail fur was burning. When I saw this I threw a saucepan of water over him and watched him run from the house. Mum saw me do this and I was creasing up with laughter, both from relief at the fire being contained and because I had remembered how she had teased me for years.
Yes, mums are always right.