'She was the Michelangelo of conversation' - Popular Stowmarket woman dies aged 69
- Credit: Supplied by family
Our crime reporter Michael Steward pays tribute to his mum Linda following her death aged 69.
There’s a story my mum used to tell each Christmas. It involved an incident when the neighbours’ cat was under her guardianship for a few weeks while they were away and things went a touch awry.
The anecdote usually surfaced after a couple of festive sherries when little persuasion was required. It didn’t matter that most in the room had heard that particular tale at least four or five times before, the roars of laughter at its conclusion would still echo around our street.
Mum always came to the fore at such gatherings, and was at her happiest surrounded by family and friends. She loved being around people, particularly those closest to her, because it gave her the opportunity to engage in her favourite past-time; talking.
I remember her telling me once that she didn’t think she was good at anything, but she grossly overlooked just how skilled she was as a communicator. She was a master, the Michelangelo of conversation, who was able to relate to almost anyone and find the right words when no-one else could.
It was a standing joke in our family that if you gave mum five minutes with a stranger, she’d have that person’s life story well within the allotted time.
But alongside all that was an incredibly kind, selfless and supportive woman, who cared deeply for her family and believed that an honest, hard-working attitude would see you right in life.
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Her own life story began in Ipswich. Born in July, 1951, as the youngest of four children, she attended Westbourne Secondary Modern. She became a shorthand typist after leaving school aged 15.
She met my dad, John, in 1969 at Cliff Quay Power Station in Ipswich where they both worked. Dad let mum’s bicycle tyre down and then conveniently rolled up in his car like the knight in shining armour to offer a lift home. They married in 1973, had my brother Paul and I, and would go on to spend 47-and-a-half extremely happy years together.
She was a keen Ipswich Town fan, even before she met my dad, going regularly with her aunt to see the Blues in the Bill McGarry era. In a house full of boys, she said she had to keep up with results otherwise she would be left out, but she followed the scores and was always pleased to see a Town win.
Running was a passion too, and both mum and dad were heavily involved in the Stowmarket Striders Running Club. I know she was very proud of completing the London Marathon in 1990 and made many great and lasting friendships through the sport.
Mum worked at the ICI Paints factory in Stowmarket, sorting the vending machines, and later on the tills at Tesco in the town – where her popularity and sociable nature would see people queuing up to have their items zapped by her, even with other checkouts free.
But work never came first and it wasn’t until she became a full-time nanny for a friend that she truly found her calling I think. It makes me happy to think that someone else also got to benefit from the amazing motherly skills she had.
Four grandchildren followed over seven years, with each one spoilt rotten by their devoted nanny.
The brain tumour struck in June 2020, with Covid making life even more difficult. An initial operation offered some hope and mum was so brave through it all but it wasn’t to be.
A devastating diagnosis followed in January that she had weeks to live. She died on Monday, February 8 at St Elizabeth Hospice in Ipswich, aged 69.
I do have bitterness. Certainly not towards any of the wonderful doctors, nurses and carers who treated her but at the cruelty of this disease which has taken my mum away far too soon.
But she wouldn’t want any of us to harbour those feelings.
She’d much prefer we cherish the many lovely memories we have, raise a glass of whiskey – she was fond of a single malt – and regale a few of those anecdotes the next chance we have.
Linda's funeral will take place at West Suffolk Crematorium on Wednesday, March 3 at 11.30am.
Due to Covid-19 regulations, numbers are restricted but anyone wishing to follow a webcast of the service can contact Michael for log-in details.
Family flowers only please but donations, if wished, made payable to St Elizabeth Hospice may be sent care of Andrew Bingham Independent Funeral Service, The Nutshell, Milton Road South, Stowmarket. 01449 771666.
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