Where to start……………………
I’ve thought a lot recently about how my Dad influenced me and what I learnt from him.
My earliest memories are of sitting on Dads knee reading my Janet and John books from school – he definitely gave me my love of reading. Until lately Dad always had a book on the go. Later on he was the one trying to get me to learn my tables. Another of my earliest memories is of using my plastic hairdressers kit to style his hair whilst he tried to watch TV. He would always come up at my bedtime and tell me stories that he made up, he had a wonderful imagination. My father always did the decorating himself and I remember him showing me how to gloss the doors correctly.
He and mum belonged to an amateur dramatic club in Romford, called Caritas. I sometimes went with them to rehearsals in the church hall. Dad was the actor, mum made the costumes. Dads mum was also into Am Dram. I went on to specialise in drama at teacher training college.
My brother and father influenced me a lot – for better or worse!
Dad loved watching the wrestling on a Saturday afternoon. Chris and I would have a bucket and a milk bottle of water in each corner of the room. I was always Jackie Palo and Chris was probably Mick Macmanus. When seconds out rang we would wrestle on the floor of the lounge – Chris always won.
I spent many a weekend afternoon under the bonnet of a car with Chris and Dad. He always did his own servicing, when cars were mechanical not computerised.
He grew vegetables in the garden, onions, potatoes, cabbage, beans, lettuce, carrots.
We played cricket in the garden, tennis at the park and had lovwoely holidays in the west country, where he took us fishing! (Tom).
When Chris and Dad started gliding I would go over to the gliding club with them and help retrieving gliders and riding in the old launch truck.
Later in my teenage years, Dad and I clashed. I remember a lot of arguments – he had strong opinions and so did I. Later on after I was married and had Alison, we got on well. I loved the way he was with Alison – playing with her, being silly and making her laugh with his awful jokes.
The last few years have been very difficult for mum and Dad. Moving out of their home that they had made their own since 1976 was a massive upheaval. Neither of them was going to be as happy as they had been there, but Hatherlow House was the next best thing. I have nothing but praise for the management and staff, who treated them with respect and consideration. I know Dad would want me to thank them. After mum died Dad was very lonely, he became less and less able to do things for himself. It was awful having to feed my proud, independent father and it broke my heart seeing him being hoisted every time he needed to move. He told me many times that it was time for him to go. Some wonderful people helped Dad along the way and I know he would want me to thank Jim and Mary who were fabulous neighbours, Lorraine and Oliver who visited Dad regularly and did shopping for him and Paul Hardman who visited Dad and took him communion.
My daughter Alison was close to her Grandpa, ,more so as she helped to look after him towards the end. they had much in common. Both hated school and left as soon as they could, both worked their way up from the bottom. I would like to finish by reading what she wrote about her Grandfather.
Today I had to say goodbye to my fourth, final and favourite grandparent. My grandpa was my hero, a proud and hard working man who always had tales to tell from the war and his RAF days. He was the one that made me laugh, played with me and slyly slipped money into my pocket or my hand when nobody was looking. He made up amazing bedtime stories off the top of his head that would leave me with the best dreams for hours on end. He always greeted me with “nice to see you” and I HAD to reply “to see you nice”. I held his hand tightly through my grandma’s funeral last year and today I held it for the last time…cheerio granpops rest in peace.
HILDA MARY GIBSON NEE FISHWICK
7/1/1924 – 3/1/2015
I write this for myself, so that in some way I have permanently marked my mums passing.
Born 7/1/1924 in LiverpooL
She became the eldest daughter of Percy and Lillian Fishwick
She had two brothers Clem and John and a sister Barbara. She was the last of that generation of Fishwicks.
She attended Notre Dame school in Liverpool on Mount Pleasant.
The family lived in Tuebrook in Liverpool. The house was badly damaged by a bomb during the second world war. So the family moved to Noctorum, a then pleasant suburb of Birkenhead. As a child I, loved this house with its big garden, greenhouse, shed and fascinating extra outside toilet. I also loved Werbie the budgie that my Grandparents had. Mum however, didn’t and whenever it was let out of it’s cage she would run upstairs!
During the war my mum was evacuated to Gowerton in South Wales, with her young sister Barbara. My Grandma gave strict instructions that they were not to be separated. Whilst standing on the platform waiting to be selected for homing, Barbara was nearly snatched from my mums grasp, because she looked so cute but they didn’t want mum!! They were eventually homed together with what mum described as a lovely couple.
Mum did a secretarial course and then went on to Calder Teacher Training College in Liverpool. She specialised in Domestic Science.
She moved to London with a friend and started her teaching career in Stratford – the East End of London. Her next job was in Chadwell heath – also in the East End.
It was at this time that she met my Dad, through his sister Veronica who mum had got to know. I have photos of Dad in his RAF uniform at that time and he does cut a rather dashing figure.
Mum and Dad married in 1948 and have had a long and enduring marriage. Til death do us part.
They bought a house in Romford where Chris was born in 1953 and myself in 1957. I of course was a perfect baby, however Chris had to be left down the bottom of the garden due to his continual crying!!! Apparently the only thing to keep Chris quiet on a car journey was mum and dad singing “Blue moon”!
Mum went part time, teaching DS at Pettits Lane and Chase Cross Secondary Modern schools in Romford. As a child mum sometimes took me to school with her, which I found a little daunting. One time she subjected me to being a model for a fashion show that her needlework department was putting on. It was a bridesmaids dress with frilly knickers which i had to show off!!! Mortifying!!
When in 1978 Dads job was relocated to Southport, they bought a house in Park Road near Hesketh Park, where they lived until last year. Unfortunately Dad got called back to London and for a few years he ended up living down there during the week.
Whilst living in Southport, until she retired at 60, mum taught Business Studies at Bootle High School. I was teaching in Scotty Road Liverpool at the time and used to meet mum for lunch on Fridays at the Mons Public House. Those were the days when teachers had a proper lunch hour – long gone now.
Mum joined the Southport Townswomens Guild and the U3A where she played Bridge and learnt Spanish.
Last May, at 90 years old, Mum and Dad finally realised that they needed more support at home and with me and Chris living so far away, decided to move into the Methodist Housing Association, Hatherlow House, just round the corner from where they lived. Mum found this extremely hard but the staff and residents couldn’t have been more caring, helpful and friendly.
They say “once a teacher always a teacher” and this was definitely true of mum. She loved planning, organising and telling people what she thought they ought to do! Everything she did was always done with the best of intentions.