Mary - R.I.P.
Born 21.12.22 - Died 26.01.15
Mom, serving at the Co-Op during the 1940's
Mom sadly passed peacefully away just over a month ago after a short illness. Despite suffering for the last 4 years with dementia she had a very full and interesting 92 years of life.
Following words will just skim the surface of it.
Mom was born the eldest of identical twins to Clara and Jack Dunn on the 21st December 1922, younger sisters to John. The twins were inseparable throughout their lives, though had totally different personalities - Mom the extrovert, and Auntie Doris the home-maker. Nan and Grandad weren't by any means wealthy, but were very hard working and the children were always surrounded by love, and brought up to believe that they were very special people. She was also brought up with pets - cats, dogs and chickens which instilled in her a life-long love of animals. (To her last days she vividly remembered carrying soft, warm, Peggy the hen to their new home when she was four years old - Auntie Doris carried Tiger the cat with the white tipped tail!)
Despite having such different personalities it was uncanny how they would end up doing and wearing similar things. For example they both arrived on the same day and time to tell their parents the happy news that they were expecting their first child. (My lovely cousin was born only 10 days after my brother, he is known to me as CuzBro as we share some of the same DNA.) They would often attend family gatherings dressed in a similar manner - for example Mom wearing a red top and navy slacks, Doris wearing navy top and red slacks!) They spoke and or saw each other every single day of their lives until my Aunt died in 2006, as you can imagine Mom was devastated when she lost her sister.
Mom was always very active, taking part in sport during her younger days.
Mom 2nd from left front row. St. Saviours School netball team 1936.
When she left school she went straight into 'service' working for a local well to do family. She would be up at 5am to light the fires in the house, and many other duties. She worked there until war broke out in 1939, when she left to do work for the war effort. She worked in a factory that made springs and other components, Mom made springs for children's Mickey Mouse Gas Masks.
On VE day 08th May 1945, during the celebrations with family, friends and neighbours Mom met my Dad, Ron - it was love at first sight for them both. They married on the 16th May 1946, my brother Ron(ald) came along in 1949 and I followed in 1956. We were brought up strictly to respect others and to 'mind our manners', and although both Ron(ald) and I had a somewhat difficult relationship with our Mother we ALWAYS knew that we were loved by our parents.
Mom throughout her life worked hard and at times had more than one job to help make ends meet. In 1953 she joined Staffordshire Police in Bilston where we lived, as the first woman special constable in Staffordshire, and continued to 'do her duty' for the next 27 years.
Mom in 1953, (and below) photos taken by the local newspaper 'Express & Star' for the article about her joining the police force.
Bath time for my brother in 1953.
Though women constables were never issued with a truncheon (unlike today's police force - woman constables are issued with night sticks.) when Mom retired from the force in 1991 she was presented with a special truncheon, a great honour as very few women constables in the UK have been awarded one.
Laid upon Moms police uniform skirt her much treasured presentation truncheon, long service medal and bar, police whistle and key (which would have been for opening the Dr Who style blue police boxes) and her powder compact. I used scrabble letters as a tribute, Mom loved crossword puzzles and avidly played scrabble for many years.
Bilston changed it's county borders during her years in the force and became under West Midlands, hence the West Midlands police badge on her powder compact.
Mom sang every single day, up to and including her last day on earth. She knew a song on any subject you cared to mention! She was one of the founding members of the West Midlands Police Choir and sang with them from the 70's until she retired. She took part with the choir in the National Eisteddfod at Llangollen North Wales on no less than three occasions. (She was also an active member of local choirs up to 18 months before her death.)
In 2002, Mom was about to celebrate her 80th Birthday - we were at a loss as to know how to help her celebrate it. I asked her what she would like to do? Her reply amazed me...
"I'd like to go a ride in the police helicopter!"
What could I do but approach Staffordshire Police force and pass on my mothers request. When they realised that she had been the first woman Special Constable in the county, they helped us push the boat out for the celebrations. Although the insurance wouldn't allow Mom to actually have a flight in the helicopter arrangements were made for Mom and us (the family) to have a day visit to the aerodrome at Halfpenny Green Airport, Bobbington to meet the crew and were treated like royalty.
Here I am pictured with Mom just before her special day. You can see by the huge smile on her face what a brilliant surprise she had. We were all amazed by the equipment that the helicopter crews have at their disposal in the fight against crime.
After Dad died in 1995, Mom was determined not to allow depression to win. Throughout her life, as well as singing she had always had an interest in amateur dramatics and had appeared in many local shows and plays. She joined an 'extras' agency, and was soon offered a part as one of the witches in Roald Dahl's 'The Witches' at the Grand Theatre in Wolverhampton. The family joked with her that she was typecast ;o) She appeared in each performance for the two weeks the show was on.
Mom chose to move here, into sheltered housing in our village in 2003 as she realised that in the not too distant future she would probably need more help from me. She arranged to have me added as a joint bank account holder, made an Enduring Power of Attorney and also made and paid for all her funeral arrangements within the first two months of living here. This shows how she was quite an organised person throughout her life.
Sadly, dementia changed Mom's personality a lot until a few weeks before the end when she became very loving again. We knew that the end was very near and I had made my peace with her. She died surrounded by love, care and a very close family member was with her. Mom had been admitted to The Beeches care home at Standon Hall on the 23rd December for her own safety (a traumatic time for both Mom and I), and after settling in very well she became ill. We, the family have the highest regard for the loving care that she had during her stay there. Despite some of the awful things that we read about that happen in care homes there ARE good ones, and we believe that Mom was in one of the best. We, the family cannot praise the staff highly enough.
Mom's funeral was a celebration of her life. She chose to have a humanitarian graveside service, even though she'd had a deep religious up-bringing and belief throughout her life. When I went to see the undertaker about the arrangements they remembered Mom very well and told me that they'd had a long an interesting conversation about the service. Mom had told her that even though she was deeply religious we, her children weren't and she didn't think it was fair to make us attend a church service. We were deeply moved by this. She had asked for no flowers, but would like donations in her memory to be given to animal charities in her memory. The donations were an incredible £220, which we divided equally between Many Tears Animal Rescue and West Midlands Hedgehog Rescue. We know that Mom would have been delighted with our decision to award these two self funded charities which are close to our hearts. In turn the charities have been overwhelmed with the donations made in memory of Mom.
Mom, enjoying a visit to Nicky's (a family members farm) at lambing time in 2012
Rest in peace Mom, you are now reunited with your beloved Ron, our Dad - and you are very probably singing with the largest choir.
xx xx xx xx xx xx