Sunday, 9 August 2015

Olive - The end of an era ….

Hi everyone, thank you for stopping by. My absence has been due to a family bereavement.

This past week has been a sad one in our home - my mother-in-law, Olive passed on at the age of 91, after a long life, well lived. I penned a eulogy for her funeral & I want to share a remarkable life, well lived. 

Olive was born in 1924 to a sporty London family of swimmers - this is her with her nanny at 6 weeks. 

Both her grandfather & father were swimming coaches - coaching swimmers who wanted to tackle the challenging English Channel swim as well as Olympic swimming coaches to the official teams to the Olympics in the early part of 1900 as documented in this article  … founders of the Life Saving Society

Her grandfather with one of his swimmers ….

Walter Sidney Brickett with some of his pupils

This was a very commendable record which showed their sporting prowess …

Olive with her older brother Peter & her parents at their pont at Weybridge where the family spent much of their summers - swimming & enjoying their riverside home. 

Olive & her brother Peter would tour with their father as he taught swimming to legions of eager pupils - they would demonstrate the strokes & show off the dives. This was a time when learning to swim was a national past time  & summer coaching schools were in much demand …

On one of their summer swimming tours teaching swimming around the UK, she met the handsome local Dorset lad John. Their friendship was interrupted by the war in which they both served, then their courtship led to marriage & to having two boys … 

The young family in Dorset

The young family moved to South Africa, then Swaziland where John took up a Headmaster post, did some broadcasting & also wrote several academic & other books. Olive taught swimming to pupils & their mothers as well as developing the many skills living in rural communities demanded - knitting, sewing, baking, cooking, bottling fruit, making jams & chutneys & much more … 

Their shared love of sport saw them all take up golf & their names dominated the local club 

Always sporty, fit & athletic

She had been my mother-i-l for most of my adult life & in her last 10 years as a widow, I have spent an increasing amount of time with her to make her time alone more interesting.  I know I influenced her dress sense  - encouraging her to wear bolder, modern colours & she embraced the changes & challenges.

At a hat festival …

Once our youngest went off to Uni, I rearranged my work schedule to spend several days each month with Olive - she loved heading out to visit friends & her favourite Dorset places, often combining it with tea, lunch, a drive & a chat.  We also loved to get out the photo albums & boxes of photos so she could pour over them with her magnifying glass - laughing at the fashions & the antics of the people in them, sharing their stories & secrets  …

As her near eyesight declined, she loved the view from Hardy's monument in Dorset as she could see for miles & still pick out the landmarks she knew so well from living in Dorset for more than 50 years …

Another favourite view - the rolling hills & fields near Little Bredy in Dorset

Regular lunches or morning tea & a walk around Mangerton Mill near her home …

Abbotsbury & the surrounds 

She never, ever tired of the views of West Bay / Broadchurch - this past year she has been content to park up, wind down the windows for the sea air, chat & enjoy the view …

The victorian lamp was gifted to me after this photo because 'you love pink so much' & so I do … 

During WWII, she served in the Women's Land Army - the group of volunteer women who kept Britain farming while the men were away in the war. She was in her late teens when she joined & it gave her common purpose with John who served in Malta in the war.

In 2009, she invited me to attend a Land Army event which was presided over by the Lord Lieutenant of Dorset & we duly dressed to the nines to enjoy this very special occasion - when she could meet with other Land Army Girls, swap stories & wear their medals with pride.

During her time in the Land Army in WWII

The long male dominated family line of 160 years came to the end with the arrival of 3 granddaughters - how they loved the antics of the 3 girls - especially en masse (sorry girls - I couldn't find a more recent one of all three of you x)

Olive celebrated her 90th birthday last year with a surprise birthday party Ms M & I had organised

 The 3 Mrs S's …

Birthday flowers in a favourite vase of hers - it had been her mother-in-laws vase & then hers & she loved flowers in it.  I always bought her two large bunches whenever I visited …

Olive lived in her own home, alone till she was more than 90, then failing eyesight, hearing & memory loss prompted us to convince her to move in to a more suitable & comfortable care home where all her needs could be taken care of & we knew she would be safe …

A fall while Ms M & I were in India in March, signalled 4 months of various complications & lengthy hospital stays. She just never regained her health & this past week, with her health failing, I made one last trip to see her as hubby was abroad & couldn't make it. Ms M, R & I rallied around her & we knew she had come to the end of a long life - at 91 years old.

The greatest tribute you can pay to a person, in my opinion, is to be there for them in their hour of greatest need; so it was to sit with her, talk, make her comfortable & calm as her final hours came. The sadness is tempered by the knowledge of a long & interesting life - well lived.

It raises the question - what would you like to be remembered for when your time comes? How will you be remembered? 

This week, I put one of Olive's vintage family cloths on our sideboard at home, bought her favourite colours of flowers, together with the oil lamp as we shared stories of her interesting life before she is reunited with her beloved John this week.

Thank you for taking the time to read this & hopefully ponder on what your contribution will be -
live your life the way you want to be remembered

Dee ~♥~


  1. Thank you for sharing, I hope that you all will be comforted at this sad time x x x ♡♡♡

  2. Wonderful Story and a Great Woman!

    Thanks for sharing with us


    1. Thanks for your lovely comment Marina - Olive had a full & interesting life ….

    2. WOW Deirdre, what a tribute to your motherinlaw. I think it is so fantastic of you and a more loving tribute to a lovely She was an incredible woman. How proud you must be of her.
      Love you lots,


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