Sometimes, people pass through one’s life without too much of a stir being created. Occasionally though, we are truly humbled at the effect that a person has on your life. The things you learn from them, the wonderful times they give you, the different horizons they offer you. Such a person was my partner’s mum, Margaret Weaver. A dear lady I have been blessed to have in my life for the past fifteen years until we all sadly lost her recently after a brave fight against illness.
Years ago when I was in my mid-twenties I lost both my mother and father at a too-young age. As we know, never do we get over the loss, we merely learn to deal with the sadness. This was not lost on Margaret who claimed me as her own son. How humbled and proud do I feel of that? Extremely. I feel blessed that I had such a wonderful woman as a perfect surrogate mum. Not very many are as lucky.
Prior to Margaret’s funeral service, I considered that I might well be Margaret’s only fellow countryman present on the occasion, living in Nottingham England as I do. I considered it would seem quite apt to offer a little insight into Margaret’s origins and early days. Perhaps like me, you will come to consider that the type of upbringing Margaret had was quite strongly linked to the warm, funny and loveable lady many of us had the pleasure of having in our lives.
In the years between the two World Wars and especially post the second conflict, Nottingham, like many of it’s contemporary cities experienced a new vitality, partly born out of sheer relief from victory and also because of a need to redevelop the towns and cities. The war years had ravaged and impoverished many towns in Great Britain and now was the time to re-build – both physically and emotionally.
In Nottingham one of many new residential areas was created to the west of the city. This area, named Aspley was where Margaret and her large family grew up and thrived happily.
Anyone who knew Margaret well will recall how fondly she would talk of those early days in Aspley. As a young girl she would play in safety with the many young friends from the neighbouring homes in those new neat and pristine little streets, carefree and happy. Families such as Margaret’s were strong and all-important in that culture. Children responded to the love and guidance they were given. It’s my belief that these happy times informed much of the rest of Margaret’s long, positive and happy life. One that was widely admired, not least by myself.
Through her teenage and early working years, Margaret became a vivacious and fun-loving young woman, one who came to show love and be loved by all who met her.
A subject that Margaret would talk of very often to me was of her early secretarial and Personal Assistant work at Skinner and Rooke, a high quality department store in the Nottingham of the day. The store stood in a prominent position close by the city’s Old Market Square. By a strange coincidence many years later I came to work in the exact same premises (though for a different business). That was for three long weeks and what seemed like three years. This was mainly due to the Nottingham city centre clock ‘Little John’ striking loudly every fifteen minutes. I certainly envied Margaret’s patience and devotion to duty!
Margaret at that time enjoyed a full social life with her dear sister Joan, brother Alan and friends in what was a lively post war Nottingham. Shortly afterwards the call of Canada beckoned for this bright young woman. Many have witnessed the remainder of this exceedingly happy story…
Bringing things up to date and speaking of the past fifteen years I’ve had the great pleasure of knowing Margaret and her husband Sherman, I’d like to talk of the extreme kindness shown to me by the both of them. That fact I lost my parents at a reasonably young age was never lost on Margaret. Indeed she claimed me as her ‘other son’. I can’t say how touched I have always been by this. I was very fortunate in having the perfect surrogate mum.
Over the years, Melanie and I have always sought to visit Margaret and Sherman whenever possible. It has never been less than a great pleasure and a happy experience. We were recently able to visit for four weeks and although a difficult time in many ways I refuse to take away anything less than sweet memories from that visit. Through all the difficulties we were able to be together as a family, and I feel very much part of that.
Before ending, I’d like to also mention Margaret’s annual visits to Nottingham to visit us. These were always enjoyable and often epic times! Occasionally even Sherman was tempted out of the Garden of Eden that is Kelowna to come along too! On one occasion notably for a vacation in the remote Scottish Highlands. Great memories and as the song say’s: ‘They can’t take that away from me’.
Now is not a time to be sad. There really was no place for sadness in Margaret’s life so for those of us who knew her let’s enjoy rather, revel in her memory and smile like she would have wanted. Life was there to be lived and this, Margaret did with great expertise and joy. I’d like those who knew her to be true to that memory.
I’ll end if I may, with a few words written by Robert Burns:
Fare-thee-weel, thou first and fairest!
Fare-thee-weel, thou best and dearest!
Thine be ilka joy and treasure,
Peace, Enjoyment, Love and Pleasure!
Had we never lov’d sae kindly,
Had we never lov’d sae blindly,
Never met-or never parted,
We had ne’er been broken-hearted.
Ae fond kiss, and then we sever;
Ae fareweel, but not for ever!