A Eulogy to Lois Cynthia Larwood (1906-2001) who died peacefully on Christmas Morning aged 95 – by her daughter Enid Todd at her funeral on Wednesday, January 2nd, 2002.
I would like to share with you, memories of a much loved Mum, Grandmother and great grandmother.
For such a quiet and unassuming person, this little lady had a remarkable life. She was born at Huthwaite in England in 1906. The third of seven children to William and Harriet Bird she would have had a hard childhood helping with the younger ones. She is survived by her youngest brother-Dennis. Christened Lois Cynthia, she was known to her family as “our Cynth”. Dad always called her Lois.
Leaving school at thirteen she worked in a hosiery factory until her marriage at twenty. Her first meeting with Dad was on the Sutton Monkey Run. Definitions of this are rather obscure but the general feeling is that this was a common where the eligible young people of the district congregated for Sunday evening walks. Mum and Dad were always quite coy when questioned about this! So she was married at twenty to England’s greatest fast bowler. They escaped to Blackpool to avoid the press and were married on 17th September 1927. Mum knew nothing about cricket then. She was left on her own for long periods while Dad was away, including two long trips to this country, in days when family weren’t allowed to accompany the teams.
Together they raised a family of five healthy daughters, which was no mean feat during the war years. Despite food rationing there was always plenty of food on the table. If something was in short supply Mum was the one who went without. Because Dad had a market garden there was an abundant supply of fresh fruit and vegetables and somehow Mum found the time to make jam, bottle fruit, make pickles, sauce and chutneys. Her pantry always had rows and rows of interesting bottles and jars full of goodies. I can still taste her raspberry jam and raspberry vinegar and no tomato sauce has ever tasted as good as Mum’s homemade. I can never remember her sitting down. She was always cooking, washing, sweeping, cleaning, knitting or nursing a baby.
Imagine a washday for five children, with no washing machine or drier, in a climate where it was very difficult to get things dry. There were always clothes drying inside, either round the fire or on a drying rack suspended from the ceiling. When we moved to Blackpool in 1946,as well as running the house she also helped in the shop. It was a sweets and tobacconists shop so you will understand that those of us who were old enough were always willing to lend a hand, especially in the lolly jars!!
In 1950 there was great change and upheaval. Mum had a heartbreaking decision to make. This shy little lady chose to leave all her family and friends to bring us to Australia, where they thought we would have a better quality of life. Poor Mum was seasick all the way while the rest of us, after a couple of days, were fine. She even plucked up enough courage to ride on an elephant with the younger children when we stopped at Colombo. Some of us were too scared to try it.
Mum of course knew no one here and being so shy and so busy it took her a long time to meet people and make friends. We stayed at a hotel in Kingsford for six weeks while Mum and Dad were looking around for a place to live. During this time it rained nearly every day. So much for the sunny Australia we had heard about! It must have been very difficult for her to keep us all quiet and occupied during this time .We finally settled in Leonard Ave where Mum and Dad lived happily for 46 years. They had no car, so Mum used to walk to the shops almost every day and carried her shopping home by herself. Later when Dad retired he helped by pushing the shopping trolly .If you happened to go shopping with Mum you soon found out that you had to run to keep up with her .She never walked anywhere. I think her signature tune must have been “run don’t walk”.
Two of her dearest friends were Nellie Pawson, a fellow emigrant from Yorkshire and Dolly Willcox her next door neighbour. Dolly ended up in the same nursing home but sadly both were past the stage of being able to enjoy each other’s company.
Christmas was always a special time with the family meeting at Mum’s. For many years my own family made the long trip to Sydney, often taking two days to travel. Mum always made eight Christmas cakes; one for each of us, one for her two friends and one for herself. This tradition continued for many years. Will anyone ever forget the family photos we used to take, with Iain setting the camera and then running into the photo at the last second? That is why we are always smiling, some family members hoping he won’t make it!
Her cooking skills were legendary – mince pies, lemon meringue pies, Yorkshire puds and Anzac biscuits, being some of her specialities .Earlier this year I received a phone call from my elder daughter ,Jennifer. She pleaded ,”How do you make Yorkshire puds like Nana’s?” Poor Dad was always restricted to one of anything and Mum watched him like a hawk, but particularly with Anzac biccies. He developed a sleight of hand, whereby he managed to help himself to two and hide one under his thumb so that it only looked like one. I never had the heart to dob him in. Several of his sons in law and grandsons have also perfected this technique.
She also enjoyed gardening, always rejecting Dad’s requests to pick some flowers .She maintained that they were better off in the garden and lasted longer. If she had a spare moment it would be spent sweeping up leaves, watering or picking off dead flowers. Every thing had to be just so. She had her methods for doing things. Iain often tells about the times he spent in Sydney. After he had done his washing and hung it out to dry, Mum would sneak out and rearrange every article according to her ways. (Especially socks). He hung them out by the tops, stating a” scientific” reason for doing so. Mum would have none of it and insisted on hanging them up by the
Husband and family came first with Mum. They were the only things that mattered. When Dad passed away, after a marriage which had lasted for nearly 68 years, it was such a shock for her that she retreated into her own little world. But she always greeted us with a smile and a twinkle in her eyes. Sometimes she forgot our names but never our faces.
She had six happy years in Chesalon where she was very well loved and cared for and I would like to thank very sincerely the members of staff for their love and care of Mum. For the first time in her busy life she was able to sit and enjoy the flowers. We all had many conversations with her about the types and colours of the flowers we had brought. In the nursing home she only ever had two requests to make of the nurses or anyone else who happened to be near. She was notorious for ” wanting a cup-a-tea” and the other one I won’t mention here!
She chose her time to leave us very carefully and thoughtfully, knowing that we would all be surrounded by our families to give us love and support. We shall miss her terribly but are all comforted by the knowledge that she is with her beloved Harold again. After I heard the news on Tuesday morning, I finally went back to sleep and I had a dream which I would like to share with you. I was walking down a dark street, in a group, when we came to a lighted window. Standing at the window looking out with smiles on their faces were Mum and Dad. I was comforted by this image.
To us she was Mum, to her grandchildren she was Nana and to her great grand children she was Little Nana, to distinguish her from her daughters who all wanted to be Nana just like their Mum.
They are not gone. They live on in all of us. You only have to look at your children or grandchildren to see Mum and Dad in them somewhere. Even the youngest member of the family at six months, stops in his tracks when he sees cricket on the Television! My granddaughter, aged two ,uses her hands very expressively when speaking, especially the hands on the hips, just like mum used to do.
Written by Enid Todd – Daughter of Harold and Lois Larwood