I got to thinking about my sister-in-law today. Her name was Shirley. She has now passed on, but I will always have memories of her. The strange thing that reminded me today of her was just about 10 minutes ago I drove past our local pub and it had a sign outside saying “A jug of Pimm’s.” Pimm’s is a summer drink. It reminded me of Shirley and of the days when my husband and I used to visit Shirley and her husband Chris in Teddington. (where my husband and Shirley came from originally.) They lived very close to Bushey Park.
What to say about Shirley? She was sometimes larger than life in her personality. She always had something to say about everything. When I married into her family, she and her daughter welcomed me in with open arms. I remember thinking how lucky I was to marry into a large family. My husband comes from a family of 5 children and when I married him, I learned that there were twice as many grandchildren and great grand children as well. I originally came from a large family on my fathers side, (11 Aunts and uncles) but when my parents divorced we never saw my fathers side of the family again. (It’s a long story.) So here I was getting a large family back again.
Why would a jug of Pimm’s remind me of Shirley? Her first marriage was to a publican, so Shirley drank. In the early days of my marriage when we saw Shirley, we would talk and talk about everything over a few glasses of Chris’s home made wine. (It was potent.)
Shirley had a colourful life and it wasn’t without it’s difficulties. She moved around quite a lot and rented a few properties on the way. But her time in Teddington is and will always be etched in my mind. At the time Shirley was 40 and I was 26yrs old. We went to her wedding when she was 40, where she and Chris married. That was a celebration! We used to visit them often where she would cook the most delicious meals and we would always have a glass (or two) of wine or beer and in the afternoon after having perhaps a little bit too much wine or beer, some of us would have a little sleep. I felt very much part of Shirley’s life and I loved her. She always had a drinking problem, but was never “drunk”. I think looking back that she drank because she always had a lot of pain. She never complained. We would take the dog out for walks in the park, whilst having strange and interesting conversations about her life or the neighbours colourful lives, which she always knew about. I make this sound idyllic, but life wasn’t always idyllic. To me when I look back they were good memories. Our children were young and loved Shirley and Chris too. Chris helped look after sheep in Bushey Park and took the children over to see them and hold the little lambs. Ahhh! Memories, Memories.
I just want to finish by saying Shirley, wherever you are I did love you and appreciated those times. I have never forgotten you. I miss you.