Today I will be attending my mother’s funeral.
She was born Evelyn Suna Auber on the 24th of June 1940 in Bo, Sierra Leone and died on the 22nd July 2007 in Lewisham Hospital, London.
My mother initially qualified as a teacher in Sierra Leone but then decided to pursue a career in nursing. She came to England in 1960 and trained as a nurse at Redhill Teaching Hospital then went on to qualify as a midwife in 1965.
She first worked in west London but spent most of her working life at Lewisham Hospital. It was while at Lewisham Hospital that she met my father, Philip, who was working at a local estate agency while qualifying to become a surveyor.
Although neither had large incomes they took full advantage of the “Swinging Sixties”, both loved to dance and spent many nights listening and dancing to bands which have now become household names.
My mother became a nursing manager in the Maternity unit at Lewisham Hospital and helped to train a generation of midwives. The midwife who attended at the deliveries of both Freddy and Rupert trained under her.
In her later life she suffered from a series of health problems including a stroke in 2001, breast cancer in 2005 and ongoing high blood pressure. Although she recovered from both the stroke and cancer it was clear that they had taken their toll on her strength.
As both my parents had health difficulties we decided to move in together as a family so that Susie and I could help them if need be. This meant that my mother spent a lot of time with her two grandsons and we were able to spend much more time with her than would otherwise have been the case. In January 2007 my parents visited Sierra Leone for an extended holiday.
My mother’s elder brother died in mid July and it was while visiting his family that the cough that she had had for weeks became much worse and she found breathing difficult. She was taken to Lewisham Hospital and put on antibiotics. Unfortunately, having been weakened by illness, she was unable to fight the infection and died a 10.25 AM on the 22nd July. Her funeral had to be delayed because many of her family had arranged to fly to Sierra Leone to attend her brother’s funeral.
Like all mother and son relationships we had our ups and downs, I won’t pretend that my teenage years went smoothly and when we argued they were blazing rows. As I matured I saw my mother in a different light, she was always opinionated but I also saw that she was fiercely loyal and passionate about her friends and family. She was incredibly proud of Susie and I and doted over the boys.
My mother in the mid 1960s