Thursday, 12 November 2015

Ronnie Remembered - by Shirley

This was originally written as the Eulogy for Ronnie's funeral

Ronnie (centre) with sisters
Sandra (right) and Shirley (left)
I want to take you all back to 50 years ago. Infact, in 12 days time 51 years ago,  to the day when Sandra and I were led to believe our parents had saved up enough  half crowns to buy us a baby brother!  I have no memories of our mum pregnant with a bump, and in those days we were led to believe the stork brought the baby! You see at the time, we so much wanted a baby in our house, to quote my sister when we were reminiscing last weekend:  ‘You Shirl, had always been there’!

The neighbours, in Lower Walton where we lived as kids and where grew up, seem to be always having babies. Our dad’s brothers all had had at least 10 children each too, Paul, our cousin here today was one of 10, so we have loads of cousins! and here was us two sisters….desperately wanting our mum to have a baby, and so much wanting a brother….and then something amazing happened…..Ronnie was born and came into our world one Saturday November morning.. I was 6 and Sandra 9. We were ecstatic!

My memories of his arrival are of our mum missing that morning, obviously in hospital, and me crying. My dad bad tempered trying to look after two girls, not having a clue how to do our hair.
A wicker crib prominently in the front room next to my mum’s chair, all ready for this new bundle to go in, with bright orange hair! Sandra and I to no longer be just the two of us, but for us to be three.

One of my youngest memories  of our new baby brother was of him wearing a romper, and his rolls of fat on his chubby legs! He was gorgeous,, we were so proud of him, we loved him.
I can remember his rickety old second hand pushchair, which had a dodgy wheel. There was a time when Sandra and I was taking him for a walk down Ellesmere Rd and the wheel fell off….. Try pushing a three wheeled pushchair when you’re not much bigger than the handle bars yourself to steer it!.... it wasn't easy! But we got him home safely after repeatidly putting it back on a million times to get home in one piece!
 As Ron grew up, as typical siblings we would fall out, he would always get his own way, he was a mummy’s boy without a shadow of a doubt!  We would tease him and frighten him, ‘Sorry Ron for all the times we made you cry’ as we would turn the light switch off and call ‘Mooderack!’…Mooderack  we made Ron believe was a monster! He would cry and close his eyes to go to sleep. It always worked! As we grew up, we often would talk of Mooderack…as if he really existed!
When Ronnie was around 2, we had tropical fish tanks, and Ron swallowed a Simese fighter tropical fish. Our dad had just bought from the aquarium, Nadines, In Orford Lane. That shop had a minor bird in there and Ronnie use to think it worked off batteries because it could speak! It was quite an expensive accident, for Ron to swallow the fish at the time, and  it was alive too ! “Where is it?” My dad asked Ronnie? ‘In my tummy’ he said!...I can hear him say it now!

You have seen on the photos today, a picture of Ronnie at one of our family birthday parties. We’d share birthday parties together being as our birthdays  all fell either side Christmas. Always  had them on a Sunday afternoon at 4pm if my memory recalls right. They were never in any fancy Whacky Warehouse, no such thing in those days, but they’d always be in the front room,  we’d have games of pin the tail on the donkey, musical chairs, pass the parcel and the sort of games you would play back then. With cheap beef paste horrible sandwiches crisps, jelly and icecream, and homemade trifle… and always a homemade birthday cake. We didn't have such luxuries in those days as kids today have for parties. But we were happy with what we had…. You see we had each other.

Ronnie’s hobbies as a child were football and fishing. He was a mascot for Grappenhall and Thelwall British Legion football. We’d go and watch him play on a Sunday.
He would often go fishing with our dad, to a small lake on the way to Crossley hospital, Frodsham, where our Nana Hughes spent 7 years there. Ron would sometimes go fishing too at Pickmere lake.

His childhood friends from Lower Walton who some are here today, are his life long friends in particular, Mark and Chris, - will probably remember his shed in the garden of 37 Eastford Rd. Purposely bought for Ronnie,  as his den. It boasted his electric huge train set….never really knew what happened to that? It would be worth a fortune today. 
Ron and I both had a chopper bike back in the 70’s. We never wanted for anything really. Our mum owned 2 shops , both sold sweets, during our childhood, so we were never short of friends! Ronnie smothered his bike in AC/ DC stickers, and those beads that use to make a clicking noise around the wheels. Sandra was a bossy sister, she use to make us clean our bikes regularly, both Ronnie and I hated polishing the chrome on the wheels….that bossiness (in a nice motherly way), stayed with Sandra throughout the entire of Ronnie’s life….and mine too! You see Ronnie was just 7 when his mum contracted Leukemia, it was to be a much milder form of leukemia than Ronnie himself was to suffer this last year.
By the time our mum was having treatment at Liverpool Royal, and Clatterbridge hospital, and regularly going in and out of hospital, Sandra had left home and there was me and Ron at home with our dad. Ronnie 7, myself 13 and Sandra by then 16.  Our parents had been divorced as the years went on, and our dad gave up his full time lorry driving job, to look after and care for our mum.

I would give Ron a seater on my bike to school in a morning, to Irwell Rd Primary School, then in journey school,moved on to St Werburgh’s . Then I would carry on to Richard Faircloughs my self to school. No one at school in those days knew of the situation at home…not like teachers would know today..
Life was hard for us wasn’t it Ron? It was a stressful childhood we had.

Sometimes Ronnie and I would catch the number 13 bus to town, central station, after school, then jump on a train to Liverpool Lime street, and walk up the bank, to the Liverpool Royal Infirmary, killing time in a cafe till 7pm visiting time till we could visit our mum on the Tropical ward.
I would instill it in Ronnie he was never to tell her we were struggling at home without her, We had to put on a brave face. Of course, Ron being the youngest, and a mummy’s boy, he would cry wanting his mum to come home. Then when visiting was over, we would leave the hospital and walk the 15 minutes walk from Lime Street Station to catch our train back, then a bus, and get home, and get ready for school…. Life wasn't easy was it Ron? …but we coped, because we had to.
We loved it when our Mum came home in between blood transfusions…this became a ritual of our growing up, Never having a mum or dad to cheer us on at sports day, or go to any Christmas concert at school. Relying on Auntie Ruth, or Auntie Ann, or Auntie Joan, who were all neighbours. They would give our mum feed back how we were doing at school as she was too sick to go herself.

Ronnie would tell you there were over 24 sets of traffic lights from here to Liverpool…. We have counted them the many times our dad took us in the car,.. often having to sit in the car with a bag of crisps and a bottle of pop on the way home as dad would stop off for ‘ just a pint’ with Uncle Jim at St Helens. We saw enough of hospitals to last us a lifetime….. Then poor Ron had to endure it all over again, so cruelly, with his own illness that was to claim his life.

When our mum died, Ron was 14, he went to Broomfields school, and still ‘Best mates’ with Mark Brookes, and Chris Smith, whom he stayed in contact with throughout his life up to his dying day.
He was a typical teenager. Sandra came into the role of acting as not just big sis, but motherly role too, and what a fabulous job she and Bill did of that, bringing Ronnie up until he was old enough to live independently and old enough to have his share of his mum’s inheritance, that was put in trust until he was 18.  

Ron talked always of his best holiday ever, going to LLandudno with Sandra and Bill and Julie. He even bought them a cast iron car ornament, that they still have today as a thank you, that Ron bought them.
Ron got a job plucking cabbages and cauliflowers for Percy Leah. A local farmer, to earn some pocket money for his holiday. He was never afraid of hard work.

If Ronnie wanted me to say anything today to Sandra and Bill, it would be to thank  them both for all they did for Ron over the years. Right up to the day Ron went home to die, Sandra stayed by his side in the ambulance.  Her caring nature looking after him never falted, whether it was making him have his long hair cut as a teenager, and even on one occasion frog marching him back to the barbers in disbelief Ronnie had even had his hair cut!, only to be told by the barber Ronnie had said ‘just trim it!’…Sandra being Sandra, made him have a full hair cut properly…. Much to Ronnie’s annoyance! Up to the day he died he would always take notice of his big sister, and had a special bond with her that no other brother or sister could explain.

Bill was like a Father figure to Ron, Bill has gone camping with him and Mark Brookes on Morley Common, with their little stove, and tent, and Bill cooked for them, keeping an eagle eye on their safety. Bill having bought him a motorbike, and Sandra not wanting Bill to fix his exhaust when it fell off…so Ron couldn't harm himself riding the bike, Sandra happy to let it not be road worthy…. But ‘Bill being Bill’,  fixed it. Allan and I, did our duty of having Ron the odd occasion, the odd weekend, to give them a break…. Life was never easy for Ron when you think he was just a boy of 14 with no mum.  Imagine what it must have been like for him.

Life at times has been very hard for  all of us, especially Ronnie being the youngest. When Ron was 18, Bill and Allan tried to persuade our Ron to go in the Army… ‘It’ll be the making of him’ they said. But as soon as he reached 18. He bought his very first home, a static mobile caravan at Moore Caravan Park, where he was to meet Jo, the mother of Sophie and Maisie., his two daughters, and  whom Ron worshipped and felt so very proud of them both.

They grew up to be two very independent gorgeous daughters, whom their dad has always been a part of their lives.. He was so proud of them, Sophie , when she graduated almost two years ago, and then getting married, and making him the proud granddad of Lexie and Kaleesie. He looked so proud on her wedding day giving her away, a fond memory to treasure.
Then Maisie making him a granddad for the fourth time, with Milo and and Leo, and for also making him proud as she enrolled to start university this year.

Ron has 7 nephew and nieces whom he got on really well with and always asked about them, whenever we chatted. They all loved their uncle Ron. It was only recently I learnt how close he was to Nicola, he would be forever sending her rubbish jokes to her on her phone, (I’ve had a few myself), he was rubbish at telling jokes, but when he was in a coma in ICU, oh! how much we wished to hear those jokes again.  He was like Lazarus, waking up, out of that coma, which we never dreamed was going to happen.
He had a good sense of humour, and would often laugh at his own jokes as he was telling them you. He never had a bad word to say about anyone. He was sound, and worked hard all his life. He certainly didn't deserve to suffer like he did.

We as a family can draw comfort in the belief he is reunited with his mum and dad now, and his brother he never knew, whom we are yet to meet. He’s reunited with his mum and dad, the two people he loved very much.

 I want to finish on speaking on behalf of Ron now, as I say the words I know he would say himself if he could, and that is. “Don’t be sad, life is what it is. We all have to go one day,” I can imagine him saying. What he would say is ‘ I love you all, and he would especially want to thank you Sue for the wonderful 12 years you and Ron have spent together,  He lived for you, his world was you, and he was yours too. He would thank you today from the bottom of his heart for all you did for him through his illness, but he would say to you, “Now I’m free from pain.,  I love you,  Cherish our memories, and Sophie and Maisie look out for each other, love you,,  San and Shirl …I love you pair too….I am waiting for you all….one day – just around the corner, ‘All is well’.
Night God bless Ron, we all love you. xxxxxxx

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