Tuesday, 27 July 2010

ABC Wednesday B is for Bee


My sister's name was Beryl but her husband always called her Bee. She was a very busy person, full of energy and enthusiasm. She met her husband at a dance and three weeks later they were married, rather to my parents' consternation. They need not have worried for the marriage was long, happy and fruitful and they were well matched though she was sometimes driven to distraction by his refusal to engage in arguments. They lived in a small caravan for a few years while he was still in the Royal Navy – no naval married quarters then! – and one day he so infuriated her that she threw a bag of tomatoes at him, one by one. Every one of them missed and she had to clean up the mess afterwards. Mick sat and laughed which made her even more furious.
Beryl was a beautiful child with dark curly hair and big brown eyes and grew into a striking woman but she was rather accident-prone. There are few photographs of her without a bandage in evidence. As she grew up she fell prey to various illnesses and mishaps. She had a tubercular gland in her neck which was removed, leaving a noticeable scar. When she broke her back, falling off a stool (!) she was encased in a plaster cast from chest to thighs for several months but this didn't prevent her dancing. She and Mick were very graceful dancers and were often complimented on their style. Beryl found the cast quite useful on the dance floor. If another couple carelessly barged into them she would make a point of crashing back, making sure the cast was felt, all the more surprising when it was not visible!
Beryl was fifteen years older than me and enjoyed taking me out at the weekends when I was little. Indeed, she would often ask her boyfriends, of whom she had a long succession, if she could bring her sister along on their dates. She would describe me, quite accurately, as a brown-eyed blonde, and enjoy the look of amazement on their faces at the rendezvous when a little girl appeared, holding her hand. Needless to say, I loved her boyfriends! I also loved watching her getting ready to go out – it all looked very exciting and grown-up and I couldn't wait until my turn came. Even now, I often enjoy the preparations for a formal evening out more than the event itself.
Despite her illnesses and accidents Beryl never complained, carrying stoicism to sometimes ridiculous levels. In her sixties she fell down the stairs and broke her wrist. Rather than call an ambulance or even sit down and wait for Mick to return home and help her, she carried on 'as usual', preparing their evening meal. When Mick arrived home some hours after the accident it was obvious she was in great pain and he took her to hospital where the surgeons had a difficult job setting her badly broken wrist. It was never the same thereafter, for it didn't heal straight.
Beryl was always a very slim woman. She was an excellent cook and enjoyed food, for her appetite was good, but she had so much energy that she burnt calories at a terrific rate. During her stays in hospitals she would be prescribed milk stout, rather like Guinness, to 'build her up' which she never drank but poured into the plant pots when backs were turned. The plants thrived!
Mick always bought her clothes and he had excellent taste, knowing exactly the style and colour and cut to emphasise her good looks. As a couple they were extremely good company, readily and frequently turning acquaintances into friends and living life to the hilt on a modest income.
For the last twenty-five years of her life she had cancer though none of us, apart from Mick, knew until the last three years when it became impossible to disguise or wave away. After several serious operations she finally underwent palliative surgery twelve years ago and spent her last months at home, being cared for by Marie Curie nurses, amazing her doctors by living longer than their expectations, and dying peacefully and as she had lived, with a smile on her lips. She was sixty-nine. She was Mick's soul mate and in the ensuing years he has taken great comfort from their three children and seven grandchildren. Their two daughters have her distinctive voice. His cheerful personality and natural optimism have ensured that he has never slipped into a slough of despair but there is no doubt that Beryl was his shining star as he was hers. It was a true love match.

 
Thank you to Denise Nesbitt and her wonderful team who organise and host this weekly meme. To see more Bs please click here.

32 comments:

  1. What a touching story about your sister Beryl. How you must have loved her, because the love shines through in every word. I love the part about the throwing of the bag of tomatoes. I'm sure they had many laughs about that throughout their life together. It made me chuckle, just reading about it. Thanks for sharing a small part of your heart with us today.

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  2. What a lovely tribute to your sister. It seems everyones lives benefited from being around her.

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  3. A beautiful tribute to your sister, Janice! Thanks for sharing that with us on this B Day! Hope your week is going well!

    Sylvia

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  4. LOL! What a great tale to accompany the B's!

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  5. Beryl sounds like a truly wonderful woman! She must have been one of those people who light up the lives of their families and seem to bring warmth into the room with them

    I had an 'aunt' like that - who also died of cancer. Doesn't seem fair, does it?

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  6. What a wonderful sister to have in your life. I love the story of the boyfriends. Some people have a sea of troubles but spread happiness, they are unique.

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  7. What a lovely story. She sounds like a fantastic person.

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  8. Wonderful story. Your love for her shines though so readily.

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  9. This is a glorious tribute to a wonderful sister.

    From the minute I started to read the past tense in relation to your sister, I felt sad, and assumed she was dead.

    You have captured Bee's life, personality and vitality so well here, you almost might use the present tense to describe her. She is clearly alive in your mind. Thanks Janice.

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  10. You were blessed to have such a special sister, Janice. You write very well!

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  11. a love letter to Bee - BEAUTIFUL

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  12. A sweet tribute. What a wonderful sister and person. There are far too few people like your Beryl.

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  13. Janice - what a loving, lovely tribute to your sister. I am not afraid to say I had a lump in my throat as I read. What a wonder your sister was. I am sure all her family treasure their memories. Thanks for sharing this tribute.

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  14. I very much enjoyed reading your portrait of your sister. Your love and affection are evident in your words.

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  15. A beautiful tribute to a courageous lady, - thank you for sharing your memories.

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  16. A very touching tribute to your sister. I had to laugh when I imagined the face of the boyfriends when she showed up with her "sister" and it was a little girl, hahaha ! they must have been quiet disappointed. It's a pity that she died so young and after such a terrible desease.
    This time I came visiting you by "duty" as "Gattina from the ABC Team" but I would have done it anyway, lol !

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  17. A very nice tribute for your sister which also had touched my heart.

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  18. A wonderful piece Janice, I am thrilled that others, through ABC Wednesday will share your lovely words and will all understand the love you held for Bee.

    Thank you so much, I am truly moved and humbkled. Thank you.

    Denise
    ABC Team

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  19. A beautiful tribute to your sister. I hope you are getting support from those around you as you must find it difficult to be saying goodbye to your wonderful sister.

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  20. Wonderful post. Beryl is very brave.

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  21. Made me teary eyed. Your post touch my heart a very beautiful tribute to you sister Beryl. Thanks for sharing!

    ABC Wednesdsay~B

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  22. I loved this story about your wonderful sister. She must have been a very special woman. I'm sorry for your loss.

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  23. Janice , what tender memories of your sister, Bee, you have shared with us. The bond that sisters have lasts forever.

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  24. Beryl sounds like one amazing woman. What a treasure to have these memories of her. A true blessing to everyone who knew her.

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  25. Beautifully expressed memories of a real "jewel." You captured the many facets of a sparkling soul.

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  26. Thank you for sharing the wonderful tale of your dear sister...heartwarming and unforgettable as you've described her. A perfect "B"!

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  27. I would so love to be like your sister, and to be remembered as you have remembered her. Lovely!

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  28. Thankyou for sharing these memories Janice. I still find myself reaching for the 'phone to talk to my late twin sister, even though it is just over a year since she died.
    When the memories are all we have left, how we treasure them. Very best wishes to you and the family. Sylvia

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  29. oh Janice!
    that was a very beautiful story and each word seem to have been written from the heart.
    Beryl was such a wonderful soul...
    isn't that the actual essence of life..spreading joy and fun and love around you in some way, whatsoever?
    btw, has Mick read your post? If not you should let him.He will be glad to be reminded of the 'tomato-days' i'm sure!!
    love,
    A

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  30. Beryl sounds like she was a wonderful person to be around. She and Mick had a great love story. I'm sure you all wish she was still with you, but your memories show that she lived fully and well.

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  31. Thank you all for your kind comments. They are much appreciated.

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  32. This is a great tribute to your wonderful sister. It moved me very much!
    I also want to congratulate you on your award this week!

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