Saturday 14 May 2011

And so, forever, sister - hail and farewell!

Hilda and I about a year ago

Hilda, K, me and Bob (my 95 year old grandfather)

Hilda with the children
Out of the blue the news came yesterday.

Hilda had died in the night.

She'd been poorly for quite some time bless her. I managed to get down to see her in hospital a couple of months ago. It was great to see her again and hold her hand. In fact she'd come out of hospital recently. She phoned me about a week ago. I really had thought, had hoped that she was going to pull through...

As far as I know she'd worked for most of her life for my grandfather Bob's sister, in her fish and chip shop in South Shields. She was a hard worker. She didn't have just one job, she had several jobs to make ends meet.

She married twice. She had a son and a daughter from each marriage. Her second marriage was to a chap called Jacky. I didn't know him that well. He died some years ago. He was best mates with Bob and another important man in my life - my great uncle - Thornley (Bob's brother-in-law). There's a fantastic black and white photo, which I am still trying to hunt down, of them all in the pub during their heyday. (What is amazing that these working class men had many loves including their love of opera music.)

Jacky worked on the river (helping to guide and moor boats/ships). Bob had his successful fish and chip shop (so had his dad and Bob's sisters each had one) in South Shields. Thornley left South Shields after the war and lived in Lewisham. Lots of bombs dropped on South Shields during the Second World War because of the ship building industry. Thornley decided to leave those sad memories behind him but he still came on holiday to South Shields (and stayed with us) twice a year. He never forgot us all either. He'd do the rounds of his friends. He'd often be off, for a drink, with Jacky and Hilda.

Hilda was a very caring, warm, affectionate, intelligent lady. I came to know her better when I'd moved back North in 2003. Jacky had just died. She called my parents. I picked up that phone call and started chatting to her. It went from there.

I'd always known of her. Both sides of my families come from South Shields where I was brought up. Lots of people were always milling around when we were, friends, friends of friends. Slowly you would figure out who was whom and how they all related to one another. So I'd always known of Hilda.

She always had a smile on her face. She was a huge sports fan. A Sunderland supporter. Bob, Jacky et al had season tickets. Lifelong Sunderland supporters. Hilda went with them to see the matches more often than not...which, I think, was quite unusual in those days. Cricket, tennis, golf. You name the sport - she'd watch it. She knew every player, every game backwards.

She also loved people especially children. All children. She couldn't wait to see them and give them a hug. She was a much liked and loved lady. Every time we went down to see her there'd be someone leaving or arriving: her extended family. She kept in touch with everyone. She regularly rang to check we were all...all right. There wasn't a bad bone in her body.

I'm crying again now. Thinking "Hilda I miss you!" Another one of the old guard gone.

Her house was built on the vicus - the old Roman village - part of South Shields. Apparently Time Team dug in her back lane and she chatted to Tony Robinson. Whether she did or not - I don't know. It wouldn't surprise me. Like many of the old guard she always had stories which would pop out and catch me off balance. They still had a trick or two up their sleeves.

There's lots more I could tell you about Hilda but I feel that it is now time to draw a veil.

Besides, I need to go now to dry my tears: "Atque in perpetuum, soror, ave atque vale!" "And so, forever, sister, hail and farewell!"

It has been an abiding pleasure, a deep honour to have known you and to have called myself your friend.


Fiona said...

Catherine, that is a beautiful tribute to your friend. She sounds like a wonderful lady. I'm sure she did have a great chat with Tony, shame she didn't manage Mick though (my favourite!)

When those we care about move on hopefully we are left with good, warm memories and you certainly seem to have plenty of those for the years ahead. You and Hilda were lucky to have known each other. xxx

Hadriana's Treasures said...

Thank you so much Fiona. Those are lovely words. Hugs. Catherine xxx

Heather A said...

Beautiful post filled with love. I wish you strength for the days ahead. XX

Hadriana's Treasures said...

Thank you, Heather. C xx xx

Sophie Keates-Gazey said...

Tis is a really lovely tribute to your friend, Catherine, filled with love, warmth and happy memories.

Remember, you are surrounded by people who wish you well. I hope that gives you strength in the coming days and weeks. Thinking of you. Sophie xx

Sage said...

I am sorry for your loss, but your memories of Hilda are loving and strong and long may they remain xx

ADDY said...

It is so sad to see our loved ones go, but she will live on - in your heart and in your memories. What a lovely tribute.

the fly in the web said...

That's a great tribute to a fine woman.
While people remember us, we are alive.

Maggie May said...

I'm sorry to hear about your friend, Hilda.
She looked a lovely person and you did well to write such a lgreat tribute.
Maggie X

Nuts in May

Hadriana's Treasures said...


You've left me some wonderful messages these last couple of days. You're a star! Much appreciated. C xx xx

Dear Sage, ADDY, Fly and Maggie,
Marvellously cheering words - from all of you. Thank you so much. C xx xx

P.S.: All of you are stars - here and on Twitter. Everyone has been so kind and believe you all does help! :)

Expat mum said...

Awww - that's a lovely post! Sorry for your loss.
PS. Why did I not know you were part Mackem?

Hadriana's Treasures said...

Expatmum - thanks pet for popping by. :) Cxx xx

Tacitus said...

A quiet passing after a good long life is in a way sad but not tragic. Seeing a bit more of this than the average person I must confess that there is an element of, well, selfishness to our feelings about these events. We would wish people to stay on forever even when they may be quite willing to lay down burdens long carried. And with each passing of one of the Great Ones we find it harder and harder to avoid the realizations that:
A) we are now in charge of things
B) our tenure as Elder and Wiser will also be finite.

And on a less somber but equally serious note, thanks again for the hospitality. It is the little things that make a visit to far lands most memorable.

Oh, and for two upcoming blog posts in which I mangle Latin, my advance apologies.

Tim Wolter

Hadriana's Treasures said...

Dear Tim,

As always I welcome your dry and concise view on all matters. After a weekend of being able to reflect on her very full life I agree with was her time to go.

Like one of my favourite authors/heroes (Dickens) I am perhaps overly sentimental so I do welcome your take on it all.

As a doctor you've seen a few things in your life ...that's why I know I would be a rubbish doctor or nurse...too many (far too many) tears on a faltering scalpel...

She had been in pain but at least she had all her wits about her to the very end. When we do go...all of us want to make a dignified exit. I know that I want to.

We'll remember her with great affection and give her a super send-off next Monday.

On the hospitality side of things we do try to excel here. We're very glad that you had a good time. It's been a pity about the weather this last week or so - nevertheless - you were in luck for the first week.

I look forward to continuing to read your posts and some (sic) mangled Latin.

Best wishes to you and your family. Catherine :)

Hadriana's Treasures said... was her time to go.

Thanks everyone for all your comments. Much, much appreciated. As ever! C xx xx

Lynne said...

Always a shock and sad when people close to us pass on, but what wonderful memories to carry with you.

Hadriana's Treasures said...

Hi Lynne,

Yes it is a shock no matter what. A finality to it for sure.

You are right I have some wonderful memories of her and some good photos too. I may have even recorded her voice somewhere I'll have to see if that recording still works...

She crops up on a film of my grandfather's 90th party. I'll dig them all out so I can see her again.

The place (near South Shields) will be packed next Monday. She was very popular.

I'm glad that she is at peace now and with her husband Jacky. :) xx xx

Lady Mondegreen's Secret Garden said...

Greeting at a time of grieving. What a lovely eulogy you have written for your friend. I liked what Fly in the Web said and also, after my husband's death,agree strongly with what Tacitus2 said about selfishness. That's not to diminish your feelings of loss though. I haven't commented for awhile, but read you none-the-less.
Solace to you Catherine.

Hadriana's Treasures said...

Dear Jeneane,

Those are very kind words. I think my grieving (and not to diminish it either) is all bound up in that there seem to have been a spate of deaths of loved ones in the last few years. I miss 'em and always will.

Another death revives memories of that last and so on. I guess it is also because she was part of 'the South Shields mafia' as I call them...

I agree with what everyone has said and whilst sometimes we struggle to say 'the right thing' when someone has died or someone has lost someone..I can vouch that every word (or even the lack of them) is the right word and it all helps. Thanks so much for commenting. :) C xx xx

Hadriana's Treasures said...

Dear all, hope all my jumbled up words make sense...(as above comment)

Slowly getting back to normal....

:)C xx

Hadriana's Treasures said...

Yep. Getting back to normal now (after a few ups and downs today). Hilda was a flippin' hard worker and not one for letting life's setbacks get in the way. She wouldn't want me to mope around...

I'll remember her and the good times - that's for sure.

Cheerio for now. Catherine/Hadriana :)

Hadriana's Treasures said...

We gave Hilda a fantastic send-off yesterday. The service was perfect and summed her up so well...Tosca, Ella Fitzgerald and the East Enders theme tune...I even learned that she once worked in the 'Bronte' household when in service...

...of course I was in tears...the wind and rain hammered at the windows and doors but the sun had begun to shine once we came out...

Down on the coast the sun shined brilliantly. We remembered and talked about her in The Sea Hotel. We ate fish and chips in her honour.

Lots of fond memories came flodding back. I looked across the sea - there were plenty of white tips on the sea. It seems cliched, I know, but I'm confident that Hilda and Jacky are now happy together out there somewhere...

Hadriana's Treasures said...

flodding????? = flooding! Thank goodness...Hilda had a great sense of humour. She would have picked me up on that! ;) H/C xx xx

Tacitus said...

What with the high winds and volcanic ash clouds I do not doubt that flodding will be upon you soon!

Hope you are keeping well, I read about the tragic death in Hexham the other day.

Tim Wolter

Hadriana's Treasures said...

Hi Tim,

Yes - ita vero! I am well. Thank you for asking.

The winds were catastrophic the day of the funeral...incredibly tragic, as you say, young girl's death in Corbridge (a tree fell and crashed into her car)...

It was very strange to get those type of winds at this time of year...

Bye for now, Hadriana/Catherine :)