A Tribute To Vivienne
Vivienne Ostermeyer 23rd October 1932 - 28th July 2017
Mum wanted today to be a celebration, bright clothes, grandsons to wear football strips, hopefully she’ll approve.
This is the fourth time in recent years I’ve had to stand up and pay tribute to a loved one and it gets no easier, although today my biggest problem was what to leave out.
So, unfortunately, you won’t get to hear about the time Mum almost started a fight in London, the day we almost got thrown out of Ryde Station, or the day Sara threatened to leave her in the middle of Commercial Road, in a wheelchair, because of her bad behaviour.
It’s an oft used cliché to say the person we are remembering was unique but, in Mum’s case, I think it is appropriate, she was a one off, who did things her way.
We were never a materially wealthy family but it didn’t matter because we had the one thing money could not buy, a loving home environment.
Apart from football boots, we wanted for nothing. Mum made sure Jane and Sara were able to pursue their love of dancing and when the girls became involved with South Downs Musical Society, Mum was the one whooping and cheering loudest at the end of the show, as those of us sitting with her disowned her.
Let me stress Mum was, generally, a very good cook, indeed her grandchildren were raised on classic family recipes and she was always available on the phone to give us cooking advice.
The problem came when she went through experimental phases, the most memorable being what she called her Cordon Bleu phase. I think it was Jane who coined the alternate, more appropriate, name - Cordon Bleugh!!
On a Cordon Bleu day, whoever got home first would warn the others as soon as they got through the door and we waited, united, with a mixture of curiosity and apprehension to see what delight we would be facing that evening.
Sara tells the story of the time Dave first came round for a meal and Mum decided to go experimental – producing a chick pea casserole. According to Sara it was disgusting but Dave, being polite, somehow managed to clear his plate, the only one who did.
Mum was a keen gardener and even in her flat she maintained a beautiful patio garden.
Whilst she may have sometimes got splinters in her fingers whilst gardening, it’s safe to say Mum would never have any splinters in her backside, as sitting on the fence was one thing she never did.
I think every one of us in this room has, at some time, been on the receiving end of Mum’s “wisdom” and we all learned disagreeing with her was pointless.
Ann and I quickly learned to consult the Radio Times before phoning.
Jane was braver (or maybe more foolish) and often took a chance by ringing her during a soap and was usually politely, but firmly told “darling I’m watching my program, can you call me later”.
The funny thing was she used to record them anyway, so could easily have caught up.
At Dad’s funeral, I compared Mum and Dad’s relationship to Jack and Vera Duckworth in Coronation Street – Mum nagging Dad ……. Dad winding her up.
However, appearances were deceptive, there was something very special about their relationship.
Dad’s last words to Mum were “you’ve always been beautiful,” and you will see very shortly how right he was.
There was no growing old gracefully for Mum – no dowdy clothes. Always fashionable, having two daughters helped there, she loved her handbags and shoes, and had a wardrobe full of bright clothes.
Although old in years she remained very young at heart.
As I said earlier a one off.
Yes, at times, she could be opinionated, frustrating, exasperating but she was, to us, a wonderful, fantastic mother, grandmother, friend, confidant.
Although sometimes judgemental of others, she never once said to any of us “I told you so” when we thought we knew best and made mistakes when growing up.
She won’t thank me, but I have to mention Sara, who has been amazing, being there for Mum, looking after her, taking her shopping or just out for a coffee whenever she could. Even getting phone calls at silly hours – very often just to sort out the TV.
A few weeks ago, Mum moved into Inver House and she loved the all too short time spent there and was the happiest she had been in a long while.
For us it was a relief because we knew she was somewhere safe and – let’s be honest – she loved being fussed over, the staff were lovely with her.
Thankfully, her final illness was relatively short and her passing peaceful with Jane, Sara and myself at her bedside.
“When we were tiny, you wiped away our tears, today our eyes are full of tears and you can't wipe them away.
When we were tiny, your kisses made us better, today our kisses couldn't make you better, as we kissed you goodbye.
When we were tiny, you held our hands and led us along the path, today we held your hands, as you took the final path.
There is today a massive hole in our hearts which will never again be filled.
You are now at peace – we’re going to miss you but at least you're back with Dad (and probably shouting at him already) - thank you for everything.”