Back in 2017 when Sarah and I updated the motorhome to start travelling I started to write this blog so that I could keep my Mum up to date with what was happening and where we were. Sadly on Thursday 7th November 2019 shortly before 4pm Mum passed away and I have written the following tribute to speak at her funeral.
I have published this because to me she is and was the whole reason for the blog and by doing so she will live forever both in my memories and my printed word.
Mum – Shirley Pedersen
Firstly a thank you to all of mum’s friends who have come today to remember Shirley. Also, a thank you to those who are unable to attend but have sent their condolences and memories either by email or phone. I have practised reading this a few times and seem unable to get through it without choking up so please forgive me if I lose it at some points during this.
For those that don’t know me, Sarah and I spend quite a bit of time these days travelling NZ in our motorhome. To keep mum up to date with what’s happening, where we were, and what we were doing, I started writing a small travel blog.
It’s hard to keep ideas for a story out of my mind. So after the mini-stroke, mum had on Anzac Day this year. Forcing her to move into the hospital wing of Edmund Hillary. I immediately thought of the place as God’s waiting room, although I never told her that. Over the six months she had been there Sarah, and I saw various people called from their waiting room to the big room upstairs.
Together over the last year or so with Sarah, we helped mum attend more than her fair share of hospital appointments and got used to waiting around. So last Thursday, as I sat with her while we waited for life’s final appointment, I talked with her about how It was a beautiful thing for her that family and lots of friends had visited over the previous few days. And that she was able to engage with them to share memories and say goodbye. Thankfully for her, the wait this time wasn’t too long, and she was called upstairs shortly before 4 pm on Thursday the 7th November.
Mum was born in Cheshire, England in 1934 and like all English children of that era lived through the hardships of the war and the rationing that came after this. This had a profound influence on mum, who was continually recycling things like wrapping paper and greeting cards. She would squirrel away all sorts of stuff only for it to reappear years later. It would be nothing in the Pedersen household to receive a gift that had been wrapped in paper on it’s third or fourth cycle.
Married to Neville in 1958 they brought a house in St Johns, Woking in Surrey the place of many childhood memories for me in what was a much simpler time. Mum loved to recount how just days after they had moved into this brand new house and with me, only a few weeks old, when my father turned up with a puppy. As if she didn’t have enough on her plate already.
Mum hated to create a fuss, so would rather not say something than ask for help. On the day, a few months ago, when she broke her wrist, she sat through lunch, hiding the fact that not only was her wrist broken but was also suffering from a cut to the elbow that required 13 stitches. We would go to the shops offering to buy her something, and she would always be OK and not needing anything. However, she would never turn down the crystalised ginger, grapes, strawberries, chocolate or the occasional scotch egg that we brought for her as a treat.
Mum had a habit of naming motorised things the first I remember was Gub Gub the families Mini Estate and our car in England. So-called as the licence plate was GUB692D hence Gub Gub. This continued right through her life. In fact, Sarah and I still have the gold Honda otherwise known as Goldie Bug at home, and most recently she has been using Little Red her motorised wheelchair.
There are tough times in all relationships and its fair to say that Mum faced some of those in the late 1960’s early 1970’s with the final outcome our Families move to New Zealand in November 1971. Though as children, we were mostly unaware of the circumstances around the move with all of us treating it as an adventure. Mum’s steely resolve was the glue that held the family together at this time and is something that it took me years to recognise.
For me, the next four years seemed to pass in a blur, first moving out from home when I was 17, but the house at 12 Ashwell St became a constant in my life. It also became the stopping off point to anyone arriving from overseas who was even vaguely related looking for a decent feed and free lodgings for a couple of nights. I am sure that she didn’t sell the house until many years after she should have done solely because there would be nowhere for that 25th cousin thrice removed on her mother’s aunt’s cousin’s side to stay. But she loved receiving these guests, and they certainly made her day when they did arrive with her often taking them on a guided tour of the city.
Mum was an excellent cook. Desert and especially her trifle is something that my family and I will always remember her for. Mum was sad that she probably wouldn’t see Christmas this year with the diagnosis a real shock to both her and me. We had planned on doing a small Christmas thing with her, but events overtook that, and we missed the opportunity so will set a place for at the table this year. Talking about Christmas, I asked some of mum’s friends overseas if they had memories to share with this from Elizabeth Terry,
I shall miss my dear friend of over 50 years forever. Our friendship thrived through visits, airmails, emails, Skype and Scrabble. Our love and memories will live forever.
As you may or may not know, we both struggled with our weight. Shirley had made mince pies one Christmas and couldn’t resist tasting one or two. In the hope that Neville, who was keeping a friendly eye on her snacking, wouldn’t notice she spread out the remaining ten on the cooling tray, so there were no apparent gaps! She told me about this at the time and now every year when I am baking mince pies I smile when I think about it.
As her boys got older, Mum started to spend time doing the things that mattered to her, including getting her masters degree with first-class honours no less. She also spent several years as the office manager at the Dilworth Clinic.
Later in life with Neville suffering from Parkinson’s disease, mum became his carer devoting herself to him. Something that could not have been easy with her own health issues dodgy knees etc. They never quite made it to 50 years of marriage with my dad passing away three months beforehand, but they made a very loving couple.
Not long after dad passed away, we started taking mum to basketball games where she became quite the fan. It also created family time shared between us.
Somewhere in all of this, she found time to get involved with Senior Net, play bridge umpteen times a week, Play online scrabble, attend Probus group meetings, Produce a family tree that seems to goes back to William the Conqueror and a million other things. Mum had such a busy life I often said to Sarah that we needed to book an appointment to see her.
So rather than focus on my memories of which there are many more. I would ask each of you to think of a happy time with Shirley and let’s go through the rest of this service with that thought in your mind. Thank you for your time.
I will notify Mum of all future posts firstname.lastname@example.org I am sure she will continue to read about our travels