Last week Monday I visited Florence and spent some time chatting to her. Her room has the large collection of teddy bears in it and a number of family photographs on the walls as well as on her dressing table. She pointed to a photograph of her and her siblings as children, brothers Bob and Aubrey and sisters; Eileen and Avis. The picture was set on a vintage, Victorian type sofa on which her and her younger sister, Avis were seating on the sofa. Her two brothers, Bob and Aubrey and oldest sister, Eileen stood behind the sofa. Avis and Florence held in their arms, what Florence said were celluloid dolls. I looked up what Celluloid dolls were, to find that celluloid dolls were introduced in the 1870’s but outlawed in the 1940’s because they were highly flammable. She had told me that she thinks that they were banned for being flammable, she was absolutely correct.
Florence was fairly blond in the black and white photograph. I noticed, when I looked to the left of the black and white photograph, a beautiful colour photograph of her and her late husband on their wedding day. In the wedding photograph, her hair was dark brown. She looked angelic elegant in the photograph, and her husband dashingly handsome. I commented that her husband was very handsome and she agreed immediately. I asked about her hair, saying that it seemed to be light when she was a girl and dark when she was a young woman, she answered: “ I quite like the colour that my hair is now”. The most alluring thing about Florence is that she speaks only positively, I have yet to hear a negative word come out of her mouth. Perhaps this is part of her secret to being over a century old. Perhaps her secret is that she lives a positive, fulfilling life, even at her age.
I asked Florence if she was looking forward to her birthday and she said that Maureen – her daughter, had planned a late luncheon. She explained that it would be later than a lunch and that her family would be attending and that she was looking forward to it. Florence said that my birthday was coming up on that Friday and that her grand daughters birthday is on the 18th of October. Florence has an incredible memory, she named a number of family members birthdays and said she was worried that she may not remember a birthday one day but she said that Maureen was very good with dates. I bought her a birthday calendar for her birthday and asked Maureen to help to fill it in.
I joked with Florence that I am useless with directions and her answer was: “Ladies are often not good at directions because we are so busy looking at the flowers instead of noticing where we are going”. We also spoke about my children, she has met all three children and she said that they are all lovely. I told her that I had given strict instructions to my daughter that I would like a grandchild from her, stating that boys don’t seem to share their children as much with their parents as girls do. She said that someone had once said to her “When boys are little, they break their arms but when they grow up they break your heart”. She put into words exactly what I meant. Of course I hope to have grandchildren from my boys and that they are part of my life and that my boys share their children with me!
Florence has a granddaughter who’s name is Tresillian and I told her how much I love the name. She said that she had got it from her Granny and when she mentioned it to Treslian’s dad, he immediately loved the name and said he wanted to name his daughter Tresillian. I told her that it was not likely that I would have any more children but that if I had to have a daughter, Tresillian would be my first choice for her name. As I walked towards the door, she pointed out a picture of her granddaughter, Simone. She said that she loves Simone dearly and that Simone calls her every day. Then she smiled as she said that both of her Granddaughters, Simone and Tresilian are very bright girls. I told her that they must have good genes from her! She speaks highly of all of her grandchildren, laughs when she shares naughty stories of her grandsons and her eye twinkles when she speaks of her granddaughters and even great-grandchildren. Janet is one of her granddaughters who absolutely adores her and visa-versa, the love that they share is perfectly captured in the photograph of the pair.
Gran’s birthday arrived and the get together started at 5pm. The table, set-up with lots of snacks, a beautiful cake stood on the sideboard, with “Chips 102” on it and decorated with quaint flowers, among the balloons was a glittery clear big round balloon, with “102 Happy Birthday” on it. My favourite of the snacks was dates wrapped in crispy bacon. I only took one because I have never liked dates but it was delicious! Florance was nicknamed “Chips” by her father, who said that she was a much like her mother, a chip off the old block.
We stood around as her grandson and “blue eyed boy” called to say a few words. His brief speak was touching and emphasis placed on how lucky we were to know her. I truly feel very blessed to know Florence, she is truly a wonderful woman and very special indeed. Florence then said a few words and what drew a smile to my face was when she thanked her daughter, Maureen for all of her hard work and said “she is a good girl”. Her family relishes in her presence and I know everyone will agree that each one of them is lucky and grateful to know her and each person standing there loves her dearly and admires her whole heartily.
Many laughs and smiles shared and the house filled with love for the incredible woman, the legend, Florence.
Happy Birthday Florence, thank you for being part of our lives!