Enid Joan Sawkins (29 May 1913 - 21 August 2000)

Eulogy read by Roger Sawkins at her funeral

When I think of my mother I think of her as a young woman - which is strange because I obviously didn't know her then.  But there are photos of her in the 1930's and 40's looking very much the 'modern woman' with her dark curly hair and fashionable good looks.  She was not the 'flapper' of the 1920's - she was much too serious and intelligent for that. She was shy and strong, with a twinkle in her eye.

I am sure it was that twinkle that caught my father's eye when he was working as the Headmaster's secretary at the Southall County High school where she finished her education. She went from there to work in the Civil Service for five years, but had to stop when she got married.

But Frank was, apparently, not good enough for my grandmother, so when it came to their marriage no-one from Enid's family was there. She had to fight strongly with her mother and leave home to get her way.

My parents always enjoyed travelling and went on frequent walking and cycling trips overseas and in the UK, particularly into Europe before the second World War. Mother was always interested in other ideas and other cultures. Although not the type to march in the streets, she was very keen on women's rights and women's independence. She read widely and was always interested in discussing ideas and current affairs.

It was probably just as well that my father was in a 'protected' occupation during the war, as this avoided them having to test their pacifist ideals to avoid military service. Again, the pacifism was not strident but guns and any other "military" toys were actively discouraged in our childhood, and discussion, explanation and reason were the ways to resolve any contentious issues.

My eldest son Paul said recently that he remembered my mother as a thinker and an intellectual who preferred mental gymnastics and competition without creating losers in the game. He played 20 questions with her often as a form of competition and learning and always found her to be a caring and thoughtful person.

In her later years Enid's struggles with depression became more acute and overwhelming. In the 1950's and 60's the understanding and treatment of depression was very much in its infancy and the methods used look very crude with our benefit of hindsight. Her struggles with her back pain became a symbol of the depression and frustrations. After a very active and outgoing life - involved in the local village community and particularly the Women's Institute - she eventually became virtually bedridden for ten years.

Then more modern drugs arrived and prompted what seemed at the time almost a miracle - "take up thy bed and walk". In her 70's and early 80's she and Frank became mobile again. Holidaying in Europe, driving for miles and going for walks, albeit shorter ones now.

It is sad that more recent memories are of an older frailer woman who never really recovered from Frank's death nearly 3 years ago, after over 60 years of marriage. This was the loss of virtually the last link she had with her contemporaries and her former life. I was literally half the world away with my children and partners; my brother and his wife and son were closer, but still a long drive away. And Enid withdrew into herself and drifted away from other people.

But she was still sharp, open minded and interested in ideas. She always warmly welcomed Alan's and my friends and families. Each of my three long term partners have felt very close to her, despite the distances. She made no distinction that my present partner is a man, welcoming him with the same warmth as all the others. In her own quiet way, she was still the 'modern woman'.

(It was pointed out after the funeral that I did not mention Enid's enduring involvement in craft work. Throughout her life she was knitting (earlier for money and later for charity), making lampshades, doing pewter work, making embroidery and doing many other crafts. Among her effects at the nursing home after she died was a part-finished child's jumper which another resident was able to complete.)


Produced by Roger Sawkins, roger@sawkins.name or PO Box 57, Cannon Hill, Queensland 4170, Australia (61 7 3398 4222).
Last updated September 2004