SUMMER'S GONE - ESTHER MARION HART - MUM
My dear Mum passed away back in April 2018 but due to bureaucratic issues her ashes were only eventually interred today. Finally she, Dad and my brother are reunited.
ESTHER MARION HART 1918 - 2018 Esther (Mum) was born in Meridan near Bournville in Birmingham on Christmas Eve 1918. She was raised at Gilberts End, Hanley Swan, Malvern in Worcestershire, at the foot of the beautiful Malvern Hills. 'Malverns' was later to become the name on the wall of our family home in Margate for over 50 years. As a child she lived in a beautiful tiny cottage with her Mum, Dad, brothers Pete and Ray, and sisters Dot and Evelyn. Another sister called Sissy died in the cottage through a tragic domestic accident whilst very young. Esther had a poor but idyllic countryside childhood running free in fields. She often spoke fondly of hay making memories and associated countryside antics. At the tender age of 14 Esther went into domestic service where she was wickedly beaten and abused by the woman she was trying to serve. The mental scars of that time were to haunt her right into old age. During the war Esther drove trucks full of ammunition from factories in the midlands to nearby railway stations for onward distribution. She spoke of her nervousness lining up the trucks with such a dangerous and lethal cargo, just inches from the platform edge, ready for loading onto trains. Esther met Jim (our Dad - James Walter Hart) during the second world war when he was temporarily stationed in Malvern to regroup, after outstanding bravery on the beaches at Dunkirk for which he was later decorated by King George at Buckingham Palace with the Military Medal (with Esther very proudly in attendance). Esther spoke of Jim’s tired blood shot eyes and incredibly anxious nervousness when she first met him, following on from his experiences at Dunkirk and in northern France at the very outbreak of war. When out courting Esther, Jim was always 'on guard' and would grab her hand and dive into bushes for cover if an airplane was seen or heard in the distance.
The couple married and Jim went on to serve in North Africa and Italy where he was further decorated for bravery. On Jim’s return to England and after the war, the couple moved to the seaside to start and raise family, indeed, the very first time Esther ever saw the sea was when she turned the corner by the Nayland Rock hotel in Margate as a mature adult.
Jim began that new career as a plasterers mate for Jarrett’s on Thanet Road in Margate, starting with renovation of the ornate Winter Gardens ceilings, following war bomb damage. After a very brief stay in Cliftonville, the couple were allocated a new prefab home in Dane Valley and much later still, a proper council house for rent in Laleham Road (where I was later born). The seaside Hart family grew steadily. First Jean, then Brent, then Clive and lastly Dennis For many years Esther had a very mixed emotional time living in Margate, totally in love with Jim and doting on all their children, but also deep down feeling terribly homesick for Malvern and her beautiful countryside upbringing. Esther moved from being a domestic worker and into catering and by the the time of the swinging 60’s she was manageress of several swish Italian cafe outlets on the seafront and in busy local high streets for both Mr Ricco and Mr Pelosi. In the 70’s she then ran the much-loved Hoser’s Tea Gardens on the busy seafront in Cliftonville.
As pensioners, in their late 60’s, Esther and Jim courageously took out a mortgage and finally bought their own home on the corner of Selborne Road and Millmead Road in Margate. That was where Esther felt most comfortable, especially in their beautiful garden. They started making the place their own from day one, firstly moving the straight railings and paths to the front door to form a more curved, welcoming, country-style entrance to their precious home.
Poor Jim died in 1989 and Esther was absolutely devastated.
Somehow she got through those dark days and threw herself more and more into her gardening. No shopping trip was complete without the purchase of some plant or other and every stroll - and she strolled many, many miles at a time - provided cuttings and shoots to grow on in her garden.
Esther worked to an incredible age and I remember once leaving the SEEBOARD depot in St Peters, Broadstairs (where I was based) early one cold, dark morning in the 1990’s and driving my van up the steep Northdown Hill with snow starting to fall, and who was cycling down the hill towards me? Yes it was Mum / Esther, well into her 70’s, on her bike as usual travelling towards Lexterton at Pysons Road to start another day office cleaning.
Esther survived a serious bowel cancer operation and later a broken neck but following each event she soldiered on and continued whilst living alone.
In her 80’s Esther took to wintering during January and February of each year with my brother Brent at his home in the Canary Islands and despite her ever increasing age, she came home each spring ‘like a new woman’. Hence my grandchildren's pet name for her - SUPERGRAN! Esther’s son (my dear brother) Dennis became very ill and spent well over a year in hospital in Canterbury from 2013 to 2014 and with the help from of my nephew - Neil, we made sure she spent several days each week at his bedside, but eventually poor Den sadly passed away. An incredibly long and arduous life was inevitably starting to take its toll and an eventual diagnosis of vascular dementia and a long series of nasty falls meant that in her very late 90’s Esther was finally unable to live on her own and very regretfully she moved into a care home in Cliftonville where after a courageous year long battle to stay alive, she eventually passed away peacefully on 6th April - holding my hand.
I'm eternally grateful to my parents for all they gave me over the years. Especially that idyllic childhood in safe, beautiful surroundings and most importantly filled with love. Their stoicism in challenging times knew no bounds and despite their towering achievements, they both remained humble to the end. Truly inspirational!
Mum passed on to me a love of the countryside, nature and gardens that endures to this very day and an overiding ethos - to love life and treat everyone - king or peasant - with the very same level of respect.
Summer's gone Mum - night night - God I miss you xxxxxxx