Sue and Mum and Great Aunt Nell
Right, the object that I’m going to show you and talk about is a ring, a two diamond ring. And the ring, the diamonds are hand cut. Now as you can see, it is a very small ring. Er, I inherited it off my Mother who inherited it off of her Great Aunt, well her Aunt and my Great Aunt. And it’s just a weird story, alright? I’ve chosen it because I wear it and it was my Mother’s and my Aunt, Great Aunt’s and it, it’s close to my heart. And rather than just sitting it in the drawer, whenever I’m afraid, I look at it and it sparkles.
My Great Aunt Nell was born in 1906 and when she was thirteen, so in 1919 (that’s an easy one) her father had this ring made for her, and she was so over the moon with it you know. He designed it and everything and he had it made, for his special girl. And then one day she was gardening and I think it was about two years after she got it, so she didn’t have it that long, and like me she didn’t take it off. And she didn’t realise that it wasn’t on her finger until she went to wash her hands. And course she went to the same spot where she was and just couldn’t find it. She broke her heart, she sobbed and sobbed. Now appreciate that my Great Aunt Nell was telling me the story and she said she was terrified to tell her father. And he came in from work and she said, "Daddy, I’ve lost my beautiful ring." "Where did you lose it?" "I was gardening" and he goes, "That’s alright, you’ll find it one day. We’re never gonna leave here, so. And when you do, I’m gonna put a bit of string round it, round ya neck."
Anyway, cut a long story short, her Father passed away, and my Grandmother passed away in 1972. My Granddad Joseph, Joe, he was my Gran’s second marriage, and his second marriage. And I always knew him as Uncle Joe but since the children’ve grown up, I was callin’ him Uncle-Granddad Joe. And he was born in 1908, so it was a couple o’ years difference. And my Gran, in 1972, she passed away and it was terribly sad because my, my husband and I got married in ‘71 and I was expecting my first baby and it would have been her first great-grandchild. And she told me in, when she was in hospital. I went to visit ‘er and she said, "You’re carrying a little boy." I said, "Really?" and she told me how heavy he was going to be, "5lb 14oz" , , , and yeah okay Gran and she says, "What’s his name?" I said, "Matthew Morecambe." an’ she says, "He’ll always be in money." Hmm, he was born 18th of December and she died in October, just, just after my Mother’s, 13th, my Mother’s birthday. Well she was born on Friday the 13th of April and she died Friday, no she was born on Friday the 13th of October and died Friday the 13th of April. And that was 6 months exactly to when she was gonna retire.
When my Great Aunt Nell was sixty-six, my Granddad Joe moved in. That was in, about a year after my Gran died and I was already up and down the country with my husband. And when we came back here the second time, we lived up at er Camden Close and my Mum came an’ I said, "Ohh what a beautiful ring." (and it was 19 . . . 1983 I think, ‘84, cos Tim was only little) and she said, "Yeah" she said, "you’ll never guess what?" she said, "Remember Aunt Nell telling you about losing the ring and what her Dad said?" I said, "Yeah." She said, "You’ll never believe it, Granddad Joe dug it up!" I said, "What was her reaction?" "Thank you Dad. And she promptly give it to me with the dirt an’ all." And I said, "How did you feel Mum?" She said, "Ohh, very privileged. Very, very privileged." And she never took it off her finger.
Well I’m actually Jewish but also a White Witch. Erm, so my outlook of life is - I’ve been here before. And in fact, many times I’ve been here before. And I’m not afraid of dying, cos it’s the next part of the er, growing. Erm that is also like part of my religion as well cos you get named after the dead, and I haven’t. So, I’m not dead yet. But the illness I’ve got, I’ve gotta take everyday with both hands. And when I’m up to it, I go out on my little scoot. . . mobility scooter. And to feel the wind on ya face, it’s like, "Yes! I’m alive!" I do pinch myself every mornin’, no matter how rotten I feel and I say yes, I’m still alive.
This object is very much like my Mother and my Great Aunt. Now my Great Aunt was a school teacher and she had a heart attack. A very, very big heart attack and she had to give up schooling but she still coached kids in the house. And it was a family home, so she was born and bred in it. And she was a lovely character, she had a little dog called Nelly, little tiny thing, little dog. Wouldn’t let anyone go near her ya know. Yap yap yappayap as soon as you went like that to stroke her. She wouldn’t have it, she curled up to Mummy.
And my Mum . . . sparkle. She danced and . . . you had to meet her. Everybody who met her just fell in love with her. Even those that didn’t like her fell in love with her, yeah! And she was a, she worked in a police station and when she died, three police stations were shut down. And they all, she had the salute, you know the honours, the whole lot. The whole works by the police and even the chief of Scotland Yard, he went as well, which . . . it was wonderful. I know it sounds funny but it was wonderful that my husband’s family could see how much my Mother was to people. They knew each other but not the way other people knew each other. The sparkle, sunshine and the moonlight, the stars . . . it’s all, you look up you see the twinkle. When I think of my Mum the first thing that comes in my mind is I’ve lost me mate, I’ve lost me sister. Mum was always there but my friend and my sister were more so, y’know? I mean she’d get up to stuff that I . . . "Mother!" and she goes, "Look, you’re only alive once (that you know of) so make the most of it."
No I didn’t, I didn’t know I was gonna own it. Cos the tradition in my Mum’s side of the family, anythin’ goes to the first granddaughter. And my aunt, Great Aunt wasn’t married so she made my Mum the person to say who this would go to. My Mother passed away 1990 and it hasn’t come off my finger once, but ya know, only to clean it. And they even allowed me to wear it, wear it when I was in hospital. In ICU they allowed me to wear it.
This is difficult, it’s a difficult memory because of my Mum. I mean as old as I am, I still want me Mum and it’s still very . . . I know it was 1990 - many, many years ago, but it still hurts. So if you’ve got a Mum, you treasure her cos she was my best friend and my sister, as well as my Mum.
I do like the the object. I love it. I’m gonna have a hard one when I go cos I want it to go to my first grandchild but I’m not gonna have any. So I’ve got great-grand nieces and nephews, I’ve gotta think of which one. Or I just leave it to my three sons. Don’t know what to do. But they’ve all promised, whatever way, it’ll be kept in the family.
If I could say one more thing it would be (two people): "Thank you" to my Aunt Nell and "Why did you go!?" - that’s to my Mum. Cos she was dancing one Friday and dead the next. You don’t know do ya? If ya times up it’s up. And I’m not morbid about it. Be too late if I am morbid about it.
She. Had. A. Cheeky. Smile.
(Sorry that’s five)
You always knew when she was up to mischief.
I do use my object all the time, on my finger keepin’ my hand safe.
It’s a comfort. When I’m low, I just have to do that and look at it and I feel uplifted. It’s helped me through a lot of hard times and I’ve let the ring have a lot of happy times.