Our last day had arrived just as we were getting somewhat settled in. Nat and I got a little sleep and as I wobbled downstairs to greet hubby, he was lying on Jenny’s “lift recliner chair” contemplating. By mid-morning we were pleasantly surprised to see Vicki, with her son, Michael, and twins, Gracie and Isla and their Aunt Adele. The twins were all decked out in their sweet little dresses and hair tied up with a big white pearl-dotted bow. Cute as the pearl buttons in their bows. It was a real treat to see Adele again. She had accompanied Jenny on her first trip to Canada and endeared herself to me right away with her wise cracks and wry sense of humour. We were also thrilled to see her sister, Vicki, as we did not see much of her on our last trip.
These were two of Big Robert’s three girls and another pair of beautiful women. They, too, had not aged a day, even after having their children. We were having a few laughs when Natalie called to invite us over to her home for tea around 1:00 pm that afternoon. We were finally going to get to see their new newly built home in Morpeth, just down the road from Bedlington where the rest of Jenny’s family had homes.
We said our final goodbyes to Vicki, Adele and the children, and were shortly picked-up by Nat. Driving through the big rod-iron gates we were both awe struck at the size of their 3-story home set back from the road and with a large semi-circle drive. We noticed other cars parked around the drive, along with Grace’s 18th birthday gift Mini – what I wouldn’t have given to drive that little cutie!!
We walked through the huge wooden double doors and were soon greeted by most of Jenny’s children and grandchildren that could make it. Fabulous surprise as Nat and I grinned from ear to ear to see them all. Yvonne, Sharon, her husband Alan, her son, Michael, Nat, Natalie, son Matthew and daughter, Grace, her boyfriend, Big Robert’s daughter, Lisia, and forgive me if I’ve forgotten anyone. We were so overwhelmed as we all gathered around the island in the kitchen being passed a glass of wine or whatever else we wanted to drink. We chatted away and were soon taken on a tour by Natalie of their grandiose home that took their blood, sweat and tears to get built. We could see Natalie’s graceful and elegant touches throughout with the decor and design. We were, however, informed that her hubby Nat picked out those gorgeous wooden doors with squares engraved throughout, while Natalie picked out the 3-storey high Chandelier that hung from the roof rafters, falling down in tapered tiers to be the main event once you walked through the main double doors. Vicki’s (niece to Nat) husband, Michael, volunteered to install the Chandelier, being a professional electrician and took him up to 3 days to install. Along with hanging from the rafters each beaded string had to be individually hung, of which there were hundreds!! Mr. Middlemas we each have a deep respect for your talents!!!
As we toured each room – the TV viewing room with attached semi-circle recliner chairs, the pool room (3rd Floor), the kids bedrooms, their parents’ bedroom, to die-for bathrooms (2nd Floor), two downstairs living rooms with fireplaces, a kitchen you could dance in with built-ins and island, large viewing windows to enjoy the surrounding view and finally a paved patio with barbecue. Yvonne and I were in awe and jealous as we could be. We agreed that Jenny’s Nat had worked all of his life to accomplish this, from his constant studying as a young teen, to his higher education and working his way up the technical/computer ladder in various jobs trying to increase his salary to achieve the dream he had worked so hard for. His son, Matthew, is just as intelligent and is looking to achieve his dream in film and cinematography. He’s also working as hard as his father and has been blessed with a trip to Los Angeles in June to take a course with the pros.
Being different as day and night, his sister, Grace, as beautiful as her Mom, has become a fashion icon. What I wouldn’t give to have her closet as a young teenager. Her shoes are to die for, her clothes and bags look like they came from the pages of Vogue (stylish, chic, tasteful). She, too, works hard at her job to earn her way through this world. Plus she’ll be the first to admit that she and Matthew have been spoiled, but I’ll be the first to tell you that they don’t flaunt it. I also respect each child’s close relationship to their mom and dad.
After the tour we were treated to a really nice luncheon of sliced deli meats, corned beef pies, salad and rolls, along with an assortment of desserts. As everyone made up their lunches we soon all sat around the kitchen enjoying each others’ company. With perfect weather outside, we meandered to the back patio and enjoyed the sunshine. More great laughs and stories.
This is when the family told us of their mother’s surprise final gesture. As Jenny had planned her entire funeral arrangements after her husband, Robert, died, she set aside some time and wrote each of her 5 children a letter. Jenny was never a woman to brag, boast or express her personal emotions but just a down-to-earth woman that raised her family to the best of her ability. As one final gesture on this earth, she surprised her children by writing a letter to each one to thank and praise them for all of their love, adoration, achievements in life, family and help throughout the years. Each one was gobsmacked and never saw this coming. Just proves when you think you know someone, including family, you really don’t. Her funeral won’t be until 2 weeks later and rest assured each child will read their mother’s letters in quiet solitude reflecting family memories forever. One of the best legacies I’ve ever heard of. God Bless Jenny – she had the last word.
With a beautiful afternoon slipping away, Sharon drove us home and a few hours later, Vicki picked us up for another fish ‘n chip meal. She had stated earlier she wanted to do this and we were whisked away to our popular restaurant in Blythe. When we arrived we were tickled to death that hubby, Michael, their 3 children, and young Robert’s daughter, Paris, were joining us. What a great way to get to know Michael (another gorgeous man and whom we’ve only seen once before) and their gorgeous children. Young Robert’s, Paris, was quiet as a mouse and Vicki and Michael were wondering if she was feeling okay.
We gave our orders and Vicki, being Vicki, decided to get cheeky. Being a “chocoholic” like me, she was insistent that we finish the meal with ice cream. Nat and I were so full, only finishing half of our meals, we insisted no ice cream. She tried to chide me by asking what’s your favourite flavour, but I didn’t bite. Thinking we had convinced her, away she went with the children and shortly came back with a cone each for Nat and myself. At least it was only a single, She gave Nat a Vanilla cone and me a Chocolate Chip (she knew there had to be chocolate in their somewhere).
We had such a wonderful time and were sorry we had to leave. Michael had driven off with the children, and to drop off Paris at her father’s. As we were driving home, young Robert called on Vicki’s car phone looking for a piece of clothing for Paris. This was our only chance to say Hi to Robert and tell him we missed seeing him. Arriving home we said our goodbyes and waddled through the front door fat and happy from our day out and couldn’t thank Vicki and Michael enough for their generosity.
Later that evening Michael, Jason, Susan and Lucie dropped in. We were informed by Michael and earlier by Yvonne, that Jenny’s family agreed Nat should take home anything he wanted as a memory of his sister, whether an item from the house or photos. Nat was dumbfounded and had absolutely no idea. He wanted for nothing and struggled to think of a thing. As we were talking Michael suddenly returned from upstairs carrying a small jewel case of Jenny’s. Again, he was so undecided, but when I saw a few of her rings – nothing expensive – I told Nat to pick out two he thought Susan and Laura would like. Done. He was satisfied and happy that his girls would also have a memory of their Aunt Jenny.
We soon found ourselves surrounded by a few photo albums, of which Jenny had plenty of stacked upstairs. Jason and Lucie were enthralled with the olden, golden goodies along with the stories his Dad and Nat would tell him. It didn’t take long before the 3 adults began to reminisce, while my Nat picked out a few pictures to take home to add to his family memories. With the subjects going back and forth, I suddenly found myself telling Susan how Nat and I met. She had never known the story and (bless her) was fascinated. We didn’t want them to go, but alas we had to catch a 4:00 am pick up by Nat E. for our flight at 6:00 pm.
The shortest, saddest and yet memorable trip we had ever been on. We miss gathering around with this family to this day. At least with social media we’ll be able to keep in touch with some of the adults and certainly a lot of the grandchildren. Plus I can’t wait to write some letters to Yvonne. Thank-you everyone from the bottom of our hearts.
…. and yet, still to be continued …. last one???