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Our Last Respects To A Great Woman

On 5th May 2016 we laid to rest my husbands Grandmother - I was honored to be asked to write and read something on behalf of the family...this is what I said:

How do you sum up 97 years in one reading? The Answer is…you can’t.

Today we have come to say goodbye to a woman that has touched so many lives and has seen the world evolve over nearly a century.

Born Rhoda Dinsdale on November 24th 1918 in Carlisle, it was only 13 days after the official end of The Great War. Yet despite WW1 being over, life during these times remained tough.

Rhoda grew up with her sister Dot, and has lived in Carlisle her entire life. Upon leaving school Rhoda had numerous jobs, but it was in 1939, when she was on 19 years old, that WW2 hit Britain; and woman like Rhoda had to step up to more demanding jobs than they had before.

The war years also saw another important milestone in Rhoda’s life. In 1942 she married William Malcolm, a British army officer who fought bravely for his country. Less than 4 years later, and with the war now over, Rhoda and Bill welcomed their first child; a daughter they named Jean.

It was 12 years later in 1957 that Rhoda and Bill would welcome another child, a son they named David. Unfortunately in 1960, at the age of only 2 year old, David died.

In 1964, only 4 years after the death of David, Rhoda lost her beloved husband Bill to a war injury that had never healed. She was now 46 years old, and a widow. Rhoda never remarried, but continued to wear her wedding ring for the remainder of her life.

It was in 1978 when Rhoda finally retired, her last employment with Carr’s biscuits where she had been for over twenty years. But retirement didn’t slow her down, with the arrival of her first Grandson in the same year, and a second only 5 years later, she was more than happy to help with their upbringing.

As well as two Grandchildren to keep in toe, Rhoda was also helping at Trevor’s horticultural business, and would lend a hand during market days. A keen gardener, Rhoda was in her element working alongside her Daughter, Son-in-law and Grandchildren; and with an array of fruit and veg being grown she was always first in line when strawberry and pea season came around.

Rhoda will live on in the memories we have of her, and everyone here today will have their own personal memories. But let’s just take a moment for us to remember some highlights.

With her Grandchildren – Guy and Carl, when very young, used to race around Trevor’s field in an old Mini – Rhoda, on more than one occasion, would join the boys on their joy rides; banging her head on the roof, being covered in dust, yet laughing loudly the whole time.

Or the time she came into Virgin Mega Store whilst Carl was doing his work experience to hand him a packet of sweets.

Then there was the time Guy bought a Lotus sports car, and despite the face she was over 90 and the car was so low it felt as though you were laid on the floor; she still got in for a ride around the block. It was getting her out that was the trouble.

For her 90th birthday Carl bought her tickets to see her favourite musicians, Foster & Allen. She sat front row, centre stage, and Foster & Allen even wished her a happy Birthday. To say she enjoyed herself would be an understatement.

Myself? I have had the pleasure of knowing Rhoda for 8 years, and I have always thought of her as an inspiration. She would make me laugh how she always seemed to win at bingo; and baffle me how she managed to carry the heaviest bag of books back from the library in the city.

I would like to share with you my two fondest memories. The first being the time I accidentally got her drunk on Christmas day. She decided she wanted to taste the drink I poured myself, and then decided to keep it for herself. Hearing her slur her words before eating was quite funny.

My second memory is one from the numerous family meals we would go on, and on this particular occasion she announced that she was going to be sitting next to me. She then went on to tell me how she did not eat much these day, and if I wanted some of her chips I was to help myself. When the fish and chips arrived they were not only piled high, but the fish was so large it needed a table to itself. Despite all that she tucked in, and was still battling her way through when the rest of us had finished…and there was very little left when she was done.

Rhoda was a Mum, a Wife and a Grandmother. In 97 years she has achieved a lot. To reach 97 is an achievement in itself.

I’m sure where ever she is, she is watching over us, and I am certain she will be back in the arms of her beloved Bill…They certainly have a lot to catch up on.

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