It was a very sad day, the day I learned that the woman I liked to call my ‘mother-in-law’ had passed away.
September 3rd to be exact she finally slipped away after a short illness and a battle well fought; she was a remarkably strong woman in both spirit and body and despite being on death’s door with pneumonia she rallied round and went home….albeit not for long and just on 2 weeks ago at the regal age of 93 she gave up the good fight and left this world for another realm.
Dixie was her nickname, her real name was Alexandra Ethelwhyne, and a sweeter, lovelier, funnier, quirky, more cheeky, naughty, kind and delightful person you would go far to find. I met Dixie very briefly…once in 1979 when I was dating my daughter’s father. For one reason and another, of which I shall not go into detail I didn’t get to see her again till 1995 when at the age of 15 my daughter said that she would like to meet her own father…..the son of Dixie.
When we did meet again, I found her to be everything I could have wanted in a mother-in-law and although technically she wasn’t, she and I both delighted in that I referred to her as that and she called me her daughter-in-law. She was also a friend and a confidant and in the few times we met and spent time together we always had a good laugh and a chuckle exchanging tales and stories of the past.
Sadly those times became less frequent once I left South Africa and came to live in the UK, but we kept in touch via old-fashioned letters for as long as she could still write and phone calls for as long as she could still hear me…..16,000 km’s is a long way away when you are going deaf and let’s face it mobile phones are not really conducive to a good conversation. I did take to sending ‘postcards from London’ but I fear that not all of them got through and they could only contain scant information anyway. I recall how she always said how much she would like to go to London and we plotted and planned for her to come visit but in reality we both knew that was a dream unlikely to be fulfilled as she was very frail and it’s unlikely at her age that she would have enjoyed the trip. But she loved that we, my daughter and I lived here and when we visited South Africa she relished my stories of London and the things we, my daughter and I got up to.
Dixie was an incorrigible flirt, she adored dancing and would use any excuse to get up and dance the night away. She laughed frequently, smiled a lot and loved nothing more than a good gossip. Whenever we stayed with her and her partner, the wonderful Alan who sadly passed away about 3 years ago, we would always sit around and drink copious cups of tea and chatter away like two little brown hens… or is that white hens?
She had the most twinkly blue eyes that sparkled with mischief and it was really sad to watch the sparkle slip away as she slipped further and further into the confusing and often frightening world of dementia. But for all that, she never lost her bright sunny nature, and you would always see her sitting with a smile ready for a wee chat or mischief, and even though we knew she didn’t really, she always said yes, she remembered who we were.
I will always remember Dixie as being one of God’s angels on earth and I know for sure that if there is a heaven, then for sure she is up there dancing and keeping them entertained with her wonderful stories, her delightful, sweet smiles and laughter……they will all find it hard to resist her cheeky flirtations.
Goodbye darling Dixie, I know with absolute certainty that you will be dearly missed here on earth and the wonderful legacy of your children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren will carry a little of you with them in their hearts and genes! 😉 You know what I mean!
Rest well sweet lady, we will always remember you with fondness and deepest love.