Shirley Hart

Shirley Hart

08 January 1936
London, United Kingdom
28 April 2024
London, United Kingdom
Words by
Tracie Saban Daughter

The power of love. That is what holds us together, a seamless line from one life into another. A bond that is impossible to break and becomes more potent as time wears on.

My love for Shush has no bounds. It is brimming over in ways I don’t have the words to describe. Her total pure love for me is still all powerful. I can feel her presence everywhere and today, right now, both Shush and Ralphie are holding me up.

a sparkling light force

Her love of life, her joy and laughter, her kindness and generosity to us and everyone she knew. She was a ray of sunshine when it was grey outside. She could create wonderful stories about anything. There was always something to tell me about her day and we would end up in tears of laughter, or both of us putting the world to rights. I spoke to her every day, up to three or four times and our conversation would never end. TBC (to be continued) we would say to each other, speak to you later, I’ll call you back in a minute and it would always end with, “I love you”. Dan wondered what on earth we could keep talking about.

Since Ralphie passed away, her pain and sadness for him was immense, but over time she pulled herself up out of her deep grief and began to enjoy life once more. Covid was an endurance test for her. I would sit daily in her driveway chatting away until I just broke the rules and went inside. She was in our bubble and that was that. I couldn’t leave her alone at home.

At the end of 2020 she was diagnosed with a blood disorder and we spent many days and weeks seeing doctors and attending hospital appointments trying to get to the bottom of it. We always made each trip a positive experience by going to shop in Lidl and having a coffee and cake at one of the cafes nearby afterwards. We continued doing this up until January this year. It became our regular day out.

She recovered amazingly quickly from her first hip operation in 2021 and refused to use a walker or stick. She was back on her feet in no time.

a weekly lottery ticket

I encouraged her to go to the weekly drama class at U3A Belsize Park which she just loved. She also started Tai chi, Pilates, and volunteered on Wednesdays at Sobel House Care home where she chatted away to many of the residents and day trippers. She was actually older than some of them but with her energy and forward thinking modern attitude no one would have guessed this.

Her wonderful loving neighbours were always checking in on her and she had such a great relationship with them over the years. It gave me a real source of comfort to know how much she was loved. She was always telling me about them with such passion and excitement I felt I knew them well.

Everywhere she went she brought a sparkling light force with her. A positive energy that was a magnet to all of us, her friends and colleagues alike. I was so happy for her even though I knew she had many down times privately at home missing Ralph.

Friday nights had become a habit since Covid, and she would always want to make a cake. Some of those cake experiments were destined for the bin, how we laughed, but her apple cake was always a hit. She would stand at the door when coming into our house with that cheeky almost coquettish face laughing about her Great British Bake Off. She would always buy a weekly lottery ticket and we would joke with her every time she lost, which was all the time. Mum, I will play your numbers from now on and we are going to win.

She loved a glass of wine. Wine time was anytime for Shush, usually after 4.30 pm on a nightly basis with a few salt and vinegar crisps. I used to worry that maybe she had a glass or two too many but she claimed it was only one small glass a night so who was I to argue.

We also used to joke about her driving. She always had a terrible sense of direction and recently ended up in Ealing because she took the wrong road.

She loved a good night out

Amazingly she was up for doing anything I asked of her. Perhaps I was a bit pushy but she never said no. We regularly went to the theatre and were doing it weekly for a few months before her last hip op. She loved a good night out.

I know she felt safe and protected by Dan and me when Ralphie passed. We became her personal assistants. She just had to click her fingers and it was done. It made her laugh as she used to speak to Ralphie telling him that. She never stopped talking to him. In fact, I haven’t either. Now I am going to talk to both of them so if you see me walking along talking to myself don’t worry. Shush and Ralph are by my side.

She was so excited when Maya was born and immediately wanted to babysit for her great granddaughter. Maya brought out a renewed energy in her and I felt such joy seeing her shine brightly with this new baby.

My Mum was the centre of my life. And then her life changed.

After her second hip operation last November she seemed to recover pretty well again but I noticed she was extremely tired and thought maybe it was just age or the anaesthetic taking her longer to get over. We had a wonderful Christmas day and then on her birthday week in January we all went to a club and danced the night away. She was simply fantastic and looked beautiful. We laughed our heads off and had the best fun all evening.

We went all together to see Cirque du Soleil in early February and she even made a wonderful tea party with her famous quiche as the star attraction.

She babysat for Maya several times in January and February even though she was in pain.

She was doing all her physio exercises, but then she began to feel a little pain in her rib and arm. Just thought she was overdoing it because she wanted to prove she was still twenty five years old. But as time wore on the pain seemed to get worse. I took her to St John and St Elizabeth hospital to get checked over and within a week she was diagnosed with stage 4 metastatic disease of the lung and bone. We were all speechless. How was this even possible?

Over the last couple of months, the intense pain just got worse but Shush fought like a warrior. With her positive outlook she just wanted to get better and get her life back on track again. She was worrying more about my back issues and wanted to make me better more than herself. That was typical of Mum. Totally selfless and always putting others before her.

bright and lively

So, Mama, Mummy, Mum, Shush, I want to celebrate your wonderful beautiful excellent life. Your friendship, loyalty, support, trust and most of all our love that will carry on beyond any borders to infinity.

I am as proud of you as you have always been of me.

You have been the best grandparent along with Ralphie that any child could have hoped for. A second parent to all four of your grandkids and there are no words to show how much we appreciated that. Simply the best. I only hope I can follow in your footsteps.

Our yearly holidays together will be cherished for ever in my heart. The best of times Mum. In fact all our together times were the best.

The power of your love that you brought into my life has made me whole and complete. Thank you for being my mother. I have loved being your daughter and I feel privileged that I could take care of you when you needed me to.

The meaning of your name Shirley means bright and lively, a bright meadow and in Hebrew it means ‘a  song for me’. I know you are only a whisper away with your gorgeous Ralphie.

You are the sunshine of my life. That’s why you’ll always be around.