My Mum was born in England on August 25th, 1925 in the village of Yate in Gloucestershire. She was the only child of Walter and Nora Hewett who owned and ran a grocery shop in Yate. She had no brothers or sisters, but had a bevy of cousins who made up for that. She survived the second world war and told me recently about seeing German bombers fly over the village to bomb an air plane parts factory at the end of their garden. The German pilot in one of these planes waved to Mum and to my grandmother as he flew in to drop his bombs. These bombs killed a number of people who worked in the factory and blew out the ear drums of a neighbour. Mum says that, when the bombers flew over, she; my grandmother, Nora; Mum’s grandmother, Harriet; and Laddie the Golden Retriever; all hid under the stairs, or under the big, wooden dining room table. The big windows of the grocery shop were regularly blown out by the blasts and they had to be replace with plywood. Mum met my Dad in 1946. He really was tall, dark and handsome and he looked very smart in his RAF uniform. She says she doesn’t know how she managed to catch his attention but that he was the love of her life. I know he loved her too for her spirit, her sense of fun, her excellent cooking, and her classiness. Mum says that she has always been lucky. She had parents who loved and cared for her; a husband who did the same; and me, her only child, who does it now.
Mum and Dad moved from place to place with the RAF and had many adventures and much fun. This included five years in Germany with lots of trips to the Netherlands, Belgium, Italy, Switzerland and Austria. There were many activities and parties in the Officers Mess where itinerant military folk developed their own sense of community. When Dad retired from the Air Force, they moved to Ontario, where two of Dad’s sisters had lived since the late 1940’s. Dad in particular had itchy feet . Mum and Dad travelled in Canada and the USA, back to England for a couple of years and finally ended up here in Calgary with me and my three kids, her grandchildren. Mum’s grandchildren have given her seven great grand-daughters and two of these have given her two great great grand-children. Five generations of us, not bad for an only child. Mum is 94 now and her short-term memory is spotty at best. Her long-term memory is awe inspiring though and she regales me with many stories of her extended family, where she grew up, the people she knew, the war, rationing and going to dances with my Dad. She is a lovely, cheerful woman who loves her family. She is the best type of grandmother, she loves unconditionally.
~ Caroline Fairbrother
AIRdirondack Art Project