Saturday, August 16, 2014


Funerals are strange things. I went to my father's funeral with sadness and anxiety and came out feeling uplifted and at peace. 

My sister Yvonne asked if I would put together some words for the eulogy, and perhaps a photo display of my dad. I wrote most of the eulogy before I left for England, and I put together a video of the photos I had of my dad and our family. I had also made the memorial card for people who joined us at Colchester Crematorium. When I told my brother that I was including memories of the grandchildren, he seemed upset saying he only wanted it to be about Dad. But I explained it was about Dad, because they were his grandchildren.

A few days earlier my sisters and I sat down with the vicar Peter, the same one who did the funeral for our mother 10 years ago.  He asked us questions and I gave him the eulogy which he read aloud to the 3 of us. I had made one or two changes, as new information became available.  He seemed happy with it, even stopping occasionally to maintain his composure. Then he asked if anyone was going to be speaking at the service. My sister Lorna wanted to read a poem, so he asked her to read it. She got very emotional and in the end she was unable to finish it. Peter said he would read it if she was unable, to which Lorna responded gratefully that she would like that. Then I said that I would  read some excerpts from a love letter I wrote in 1997. He looked it over and smiled.

A day or so before the funeral, my nephew James had asked if he could carry the coffin into the crematorium, to which Thomas said he would also like to do the same. I made a point of letting everyone know that I did NOT want to walk the hurst out of the neighbourhood like we did my mother. That was just too painful to do, and just felt wrong.

So the morning of the funeral, the family gathered at my dad's house and we each got into the cars after looking at the beautiful flowers that Yvonne had ordered for us. As we drove the short distance to the crematorium, I was beginning to get anxious about reading my letter, and I shed a few tears, knowing this was the last farewell for our dad.

We got out of the cars, and James, Thomas, my brothers in law Kevin and David all carried the coffin into the service. We followed and Lorna could not hold her composure any longer. The music that was chosen for the service seemed a little strange to me, Strangers in the Night, Brown Eyes Blue, another that I forget, and a hymn, Abide with Me.  But the Vicar read the eulogy and I felt proud that I was able to capture my dad in a those words. 
These roses were on top of the coffin, and were given out to those in attendance
Then he read the poem that Lorna had requested. It really did sum up our feelings, and I will add it here when she sends it to me. I read my letter but stumbled once, so Lorna came up with me for support. Then Lorna had chosen Dance with my Father for the last piece of music, and people started to leave the chapel.  I stood at the door hugging all the people who came, some I had never met, but most I had. We looked at the flowers and chatted a little to our guests and then went into the cars and returned home where we had a lovely catered lunch with our friends and family.
Flowers from my brother David and his family. My dad loved to fish, especially with his son
I felt at peace. I'm not sure why, but it was a good feeling. I know not all of my family felt that way, but for me it was wonderful. Also, my brother told me later that he loved the eulogy, and realised that it was all about our dad.

Here is the eulogy if you care to read it. It is long!

Phil, or Chick as he’s known to many, was born on February 3rd, 1927, lived in Hatton in Warwickshire, with his parents Alfred and Della Hicken. He was brother to Mary and Audrey.

For his antics in school he learned how to knit and sew, when he was put in those classes with the girls as punishment!

He joined the army and served England for many years. While in the army he studied and completed his trade to become a mechanic.  He worked in various firms in Colchester and retired in 1997.

During his service, while in Colchester he met Eileen and their first date was at a cafe for tea. After a romantic courtship Phil proposed to Eileen. He sold his motorbike to buy an engagement ring for the woman he loved.
They were married at St. Botolph’s Church on March 7, 1953. He was still in the army when David and Mary were born. Later Lorna and Yvonne arrived, much to his delight.

Phil was an uncle to Ann in Australia, Della in New Zealand, Kathy in Ireland and Johan in South Africa. His closest nieces and nephew were Marilyn and Felicity and Glenn, here in Colchester.

Phil embraced all the things his late wife suggested: students from all over the globe, travel to many parts of the world, the many family walks in Friday woods, the dog Fluffy Lorna brought back from London, the dreaded slideshows. One of his favourite quotes was, “When I was in the army...” followed by groans from the listener.

Phil’s friends were many, but most of whom have also passed on. One friend in particular, a Superman in fact, who meant a lot to him was Trevor and his wife Lynne. They lived next door and could be counted on in times of need. Shortly after Eileen’s death, Trevor spoke to a friend who later showed up at Phil’s door with a gift that changed his life, Lucy. Lucy was the Sprocker Spaniel who was his constant loving companion.

Phil, Grandpa to his grandchildren, loved them and their visits.
On one occasion Jenna invited him to watch a show she was putting on in Southend. After the show Grandpa was gushing about how talented she was with her singing and dancing. She has since changed her focus and although he wasn't there earlier this week for her commencement, he was always proud of her.

Chris will miss him a lot. He produced him his latest great grandchild, Koby.

Thomas takes after his grandpa with the love of photography, now making it his career.  There were always admiring comments when Phil saw Thomas’s work.

James was probably the closest grandchild to him. He spent some time living with him and taking care of his every need.  Phil often talked of the trips to the barber for a haircut and shave that James took him for.

Sophie always took Talia to visit her great grandpa. The three of them sometimes went out for a meal and talked often of grandma.  There was a special bond between them.

Vanessa would go by on occasion to visit and cut her Grandpa’s hair. He loved those visits learning more about his other great grandchild, Lucas.

When Megan popped round her grandpa’s, she really missed her grandma but would take Lucy out for a walk.

Jack took his grandpa to the Clacton Air Show, and they shared their interest in the aeroplanes. He has fond memories of Grandpa tinkering in the shed at the bottom of the garden.

Phil’s hobbies always included gadgets. He once made Mary a transistor radio. He loved fixing his friend’s cars. He loved photography and developing black and white photos. He loved fishing with his son David. He loved making and fixing things around the house. He also loved watching sports on TV, from football to darts to snooker.  Did you know he was a DJ for a while?  He also loved animals, the dogs from his childhood, always named Molly. Two dogs more recently, Fluffy and Lucy. The bird Fred, the hamster Tiddles, the rabbit Pebbles. Also Lorna’s dogs Rocky and Buddy and David’s dog Dexter.

The last few years of Phil’s life, his children did all they could to make him comfortable and happy. Lorna, Yvonne and David all visited regularly making meals, going shopping, trips to the pub and local fishing hole. Mary being overseas, made phone calls as often as possible and occasional trips home to spend a couple of weeks catching up.

Phil had a good and long life, especially this last year, due to the care he received from Sally and Janet from Nayland Care. He will be missed. 

However we can take comfort in knowing he has been reunited with his first and most important love, his wife Eileen.

Sunday, July 06, 2014

Canada Day celebration space

I knew that I wanted to make a Canada Day space, but I honestly have to say that I didn't have my heart in it. With the recent passing of my Dad, it's been hard to be motivated to do anything. Having said that, this is what I came up with. Next time it will be a little more fun with perhaps images of fireworks and multiculturalism, because that is what it's all about after all!

So for my next space, I was thinking I may make a memorial space for my Dad, but that may be difficult and sad, so I'm not sure yet.

Rest In Peace Dad

My Dad died on June 25th. Even though he has had Alzheimer's disease for many years, it was unexpected.

Two nights before he died I had a dream about my mother. In the dream she had Alzheimer's (in life she didn't), and I was trying to get through to her. I had taken her a bag of cookies, and was telling her that I loved her. When I woke up, first I thought that it was great that I had remembered my dream, as I seldom do. Then I thought that it was like my Mum and Dad were squished together as one. As soon as the word 'together' was in my mind, I was sure my Mum and Dad were together, that my Dad had died to be with my Mum. I ran to my phone that I always turn off at night, to see if there were any messages from home. There were not.

On the morning of his death, I turned my phone on at 7 am and saw many attempts that family members had made to contact me. He had passed away at 6 am.

My sister told me that her daughter Sophie had also had a dream, she and I are very similar in many ways. I truly believe that my Mum had come to let me know that my Dad was going to meet her.

The funeral is in a few weeks, so to keep me busy in the meantime, I made this memorial card for the guests at the funeral.
He was a quiet man, but with a good heart. My family will miss him dearly.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014


Every morning when I first get up, I think I am okay to go to work. Then I start moving around, and it's obvious I'm not. I have been trying to make a quick meal for myself, and standing in the kitchen preparing it for 15 minutes always proves to be deadly. I can't remember the last hot meal I ate, as once I'm done making my food, I spend a good length of time trying to figure out how to sit down, or to relieve the pain. 

I went to the Dr. yesterday and practically begged for medication that helps with nerve pain. I finally got it. The last 2 visits I was told Tylenol would help. I was in so much pain that when they wanted to take my blood pressure and asked me to sit down, I couldn't. She told me she needed me to and when I tried I screamed out in pain and cried a little. 

Then she said, "Oh, it hurts that much? I guess that is why you were standing in the waiting room". 

The Dr. also sent me off for an x-ray, as now she thinks it's a herniated disc. That was a laugh! I had to ask the technician to unzip my boots, and I had worn skinny jeans that I had a hell of a time getting off! Try taking yours off without bending! Then I had to maneuver myself onto the table first on my back, then on the side, then on the other side. I came out of there shedding many tears. I feel like an old woman, no really, a very old woman.

I took one of the pills I was prescribed immediately at the pharmacy, and it kicked in once I got home after the x-ray. WOW! my head was swimming, my speech was slurry, I felt a little high. I just went to the couch, and to lie flat on my back! The very warm sensation on my back was very comforting. My fingers lost some of their sensitivity, and I felt lovely! But once I tied to move the pain was still there, so I decided to just stay on the couch, and not move, I had enough pain for the day. 

I slept well last night and am about to take another pill. I stood in the kitchen and washed a few dishes after breakfast, and I don't want to jinx it, but I had no pain!!

Fingers crossed everyone.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Winter Celebration Space

I had one idea to make my celebration space using white, blue and silver. However, I didn't really have any much of those things that screamed WINTER!

So I was on the look out for things in the Boxing week sales. I found a package of white garland that was $2 at Walmart. While waiting for inspiration, I just spread it out on top of the space. Next I pulled out 3 candle sticks that I found at the Dollar Store and filled the bottom some white tulle ribbon.

While out shopping at Winners I found a white tree that is actually a battery operated lamp for only $4. On the same trip I also found a cute little white rope wrapped polar bear for $1.50.

I took my foam wreath that I've used on many of my spaces, and wrapped it with the white garland, and I LOVE the way it looks. For Christmas one of the kindergarten children at my school gave me a lovely paper mache bird, and a basket weave nest. I used the bird only to sit inside the wreath.

I used my Cricut machine to cut out a few giant blue snowflakes, and a couple of phrases about winter.
This is the final product.

Wednesday, January 01, 2014

Happy New Year

My Celebration Space for New Year's Eve.
I spent the evening at home, watching movies on my computer which was hooked up to the t.v.  I celebrated with some sparkling grape juice, and popcorn!  Quiet and uncomplicated, just the way I like it.
Here is hoping all my family and friends find peace and happiness in 2014.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Annual Newsletter

Check out my annual newsletter.

Ereader Cover

For Christmas my son gave me a Kobo ereader so that I can read books on my way to school on the subway.
I wanted to make a cover to protect it, so I thought about how I could do that. I used a bubble envelope and some beautiful cotton material I found in the summer a couple of years ago.
Here is the result.
Kobo e-reader
Back of the case
The case with the e-reader inside
Front of the case

I think there might be a market for these. if you are interested contact me and let me know.

Sunday, October 06, 2013

57 Things You May Not Know About Me

1.       I had a recurring dream as a child. I am walking along a cobbled street pushing a doll’s pram, when Cinderella’s coach glided by me.
2.       I was once bitten by a deer at Marineland. I was getting food to feed the deer, but they couldn’t wait and bit me on the bum!
3.       I am scared of heights. I have tried on a number of occasions to beat my fear, but have only managed to face it instead.
4.       I had a crush on Tom Selleck. That is why my son’s name is Thomas.
5.       I got a scholarship for my ECE from the Canadian Mothercraft Society. Many years later I discovered they didn’t actually hand out scholarships, so I believe someone paid out of their own pocket for my education.  
6.       I gave up my religion in 1997 after George died. I have a very difficult time believing in something that takes away someone who means so much.
7.       I am a vegetarian. I have been my whole life. When I was 4 and still not eating meat my mum announced that I was vegetarian.
8.       I have an allergy to beer. I drank beer for many years, and suddenly one day I had a bad reaction. I now carry an Epi-pen just in case.
9.       I went to a boarding school for 5 years. I loved being away from home. Kennylands Boarding School no longer exists.
10.   I love Hallowe’en because I can dress up. The last few years I have used the same costume, because I’ve been to a new school every year. I made an iPod costume.
11.   I was responsible for a girl almost drowning when I was 9. When I was young my mother used to pick fruit with other mothers on local farms. All the kids played together. I tied a rope to the girl’s waist and told her to walk across an open well. She fell and I pulled her up, and was lauded as a hero. I told her never to tell anyone what really happened.
12.   I don’t know my youngest sister as well as I should. My sister was 4 when I went to boarding school. I came home 5 years later and lived at home for another year or so then left for Canada.
13.   I started watching Coronation Street last year. I never watched it while I lived in England, I had no interest!
14.   I love watching Ellen DeGeneres. She is a fantastic comedienne and a wonderful person.
15.   I dyed my hair blond when I was 17 but only for a few weeks. After dying it I got it cut short, and when I went into work after the weekend, one of the guys asked who the “new” girl was!
16.   I left England when I was 18. I was offered a job as a nanny to 4 and 6 year old boys.
17.   My favourite singer is Bryan Ferry. He has such a sexy voice.
18.   I’ve been to a psychic three times, one gave me money back! At a fair, the psychic couldn’t read me and gave me my money back!
19.   I read all ingredients of food products I buy. So many food allergies, I have to make sure what goes into my mouth is okay!
20.   My son is a photographer. He finished his course this spring, and now is a freelance photographer.
21.   I don’t remember my dreams. It has been many years since I remembered a dream. They say I have them, but I don’t remember.
22.   I practice meditation. Every Saturday morning I go to a class, and I try to practice a little every day.
23.   I hate exercise. It seems that every time I exercise I have problems with back and knee pain.
24.   I have a gluten sensitivity. A few years ago I went to a naturopath who put me on an elimination diet. I discovered my body doesn’t do well with wheat.
25.   The best gift I got as a child was a doll house. I know it was second hand, because I had played with it at a friend’s house, but it didn’t matter. I loved playing with it.
26.   My mother was South African. She was born in Cape Town, and moved to England in 1950
27.   My father was a mechanic. He learned his skill in the army.
28.   I used to volunteer a lot. I have sat on many boards. I also ran a kids club every Friday night in my apartment complex for 6 years.
29.   The love of my life died in 1997. George died suddenly of meningitis after only 3 years together.
30.   I am passionate about my work with special needs children. Even though this work can sometime be dangerous with violent children, I love to see the little successes they make.
31.   I love themed parties. Some of my themed parties have been: I Can’t Believe You Wore That To My Party; Pyjama Party; Will You Do It For A Dollar; Hallowe’en. The last themed party I went to was last month, it was a 1960’s party, I went as a “Mod” with go-go boots and all.
32.   I hate New Years Eve celebrations. I don’t like seeing everyone kissing their loved ones at the stroke of midnight, it makes me miss mine.
33.   I was born on a leap day. Yes, February 29th.
34.   I wish I was taller. I am 5’ 1” and wish I could add 5 or 6 inches more.
35.   I have a brother and 2 sisters. My brother is 2 years older and my sisters are 5 and 7 years younger.
36.   I once flew on a trapeze. When I turned 48 I decided to prove I was still young by trying out circus school. Flying on the trapeze also gave me the opportunity to face my fear of heights. I screamed so loud when I eventually let go and fell to the net, they had to pry my fingers from the harness!
37.   I have flown in a jet, in a helicopter, in a glider, in a hang glider, in a hot air balloon, and in a small engine plane. Jet to and from England, helicopter over Niagara Falls, glider with a social network group, hang glider with friends, hot air balloon that was owned by a boyfriend I once had, and a small engine plane into Tortola, British Virgin Islands.
38.   I love to make cards and paper albums. You can check them out at
39.   I look younger than my years. I put it down to my English blood. Both my parents looked younger than their real ages.
40.   I’ve only had 14 real birthdays. Remember, I was a leap year baby.
41.   I don’t like camping. We camped a lot when I was a kid, we couldn’t afford to stay in hotels. I don’t think I’d ever choose to camp again, unless it is in a camper van.
42.   I once worked on a little cruise boat on the Rhine as a dishwasher. I was sent home after a week, as the others were concerned when the skipper had eyes for me, I was 16!
43.   I have had boudoir photos taken of me for my partner. These were a gift for Valentine’s Day. He loved them!
44.   I have been to Cuba 3 times. Twice with Thomas and once with a friend Beatriz. It is the cheapest All Inclusive destination there is.
45.   I will always help anyone being bullied. I was bullied as a child, and a few years ago I confronted one of the bullies, she had no recollection of it!
46.   I want to be in a relationship. I miss the intimacy and love of a relationship.
47.   I’ve never been married. I have been engaged twice though. Once to an Austrian and once to a Tennessean.
48.   My brother and sisters are grandparents, I am not. I guess I’m just too young!
49.   I don’t believe getting a degree from university will get you further than without one.
50.   I miss talking to my mum. We used to talk on the phone once a week, and write letters often. She was the person I could sort things out with.
51.   My dad has Alzheimer’s disease. He was diagnosed shortly after my mum died in 2004, we suspected it before then. He still lives alone in a 3 bedroom house with people coming in 3 times a day to make sure he’s had his meds and meals.
52.   I never liked fishing with my dad. I hated putting worms on the hook, the cold, the quiet. But it meant that I could spend time alone with him, that is why I did it.
53.   I came to Canada in 1974 as a nanny. I have never really looked back, Canada is my home now.
54.   I learned to ski and skate when I was 18. The first time I put on skates, I fell backwards and hit my head, and swore I’d never do that again, (hit my head, not skate). The first time I downhill skied I used cross-country skis because that is all they had!
55.   I love baseball and basketball. When I was 15 I was put on the girls’ basketball team, (remember I’m only 5’1” now, so imagine how short I was at 15). When I was 16 I was on the rounders team, (that is a game like baseball), I went to catch a high ball and didn’t see another girl running to catch it as well. I lost my 2 front teeth that day! Now I’m just a spectator, although I did get hit by a baseball a few years ago at a Blue Jays game!
56.   My life as a woman has been at risk on at least 2 occasions. As an English nanny, stories were always being swapped with other English nannies, about how we had to fend off the fathers of the children we cared for.
57.   I love my home and hope to retire in it in 8 years. A few years ago I moved to an apartment on the other side of the building I have lived in for the past 16 years. I love the cityscape view from my windows. I hope that I will be here for a very long time.