Our wonderful mother Chrissie finally lost her 23 year fight with cancer at the weekend peacefully and free of pain in her beloved Northampton General Hospital (18 March 2017). She was a strong, intense, funny, hilarious, kind, caring, passionate, fierce, outraged and outrageous person. Often all within the same breath.
Everyone knew her as a different person, we her sons and sister knew all of them.
The stories are legion – volunteering at a hospice for ten years, at the hospital for 21, the first female judge in the Royal National Rose Society, the only farmer in Northamptonshire who routinely harvested in a bikini, being sent off from a school rugby match for abusing the referee (in the 1980s before it was fashionable), surfing down the stairs at 10 Downing Street, being crowned, for heavens sake Miss Sexy Voice of Northamptonshire by the local radio station, her brilliant Scottish Country dancing, exceptional rose growing, opening a supermarket, knitting clothing to keep the chickens warm, dogged support of Northampton Saints particularly Steven Myler, abseiling in her sixties for charity, her dedicated fly fishing, buying a herd of Belted Galloways on a whim and any number of outrageous exploits in shoots, pubs and clubs the length and breadth of the country.
Mother would bring immense compassion and humour to any encounter, lighting up the room with a wonderful sense of the absurd and an instinctive empathy. So many people talk of the joy she brought to them. But she could also fight – she fought anything: her school, from which she was removed just before she was expelled (as she told it), the council for CPO-ing her first shop, the male hegemony that insisted she couldn’t and wouldn’t farm after our father’s tragic early death, on Women’s Hour the agrochemical industry that probably gave her cancer, the government who threatened her rural way of life, motorists on the A43, sometimes us and herself. As I go through her papers and the press cuttings tumble out, I can see remarkably that she won many of these battles in some way or other. I learned from her to be afraid of no one and will pass to my daughters evidence of their grandmother’s campaigns.
When she was given the terminal diagnosis by her consultant –the cancer had moved to her liver by then – she said that she had better have a gin and tonic. The doc was happy with alcohol, so she did and as she had stopped eating by that point she spent the last few days subsisting in hospital on lager, that she drank through a straw.
The three pictures here cover many bases – immensely beautiful at the marriage to my father, immensely kind receiving a 10 year volunteering award and immense fun, launching the ‘Mini Metro’ having driven it through a wall at the dealers then drinking champagne in the boot (mother, centre).
The world is a much poorer, quieter place without her. Oli and I lost our father tragically early, but we had double the mother.