My Mum : 01.05.1928 – 10.03.2016

My Mum : 01.05.1928 – 10.03.2016

Sylvia Frances Keay (nee Thorne)

It is with great sadness I share the news of my Mum’s passing on Thursday night, 10th of March. Our holiday was coming to an end … our last night being at The Cavern in the Northern Drakensberg, one of our favourite places.   A perfect place to receive the call from my brother saying our precious and beloved Mum had passed away.  My Auntie Marjie had said, many years ago, that in the mountains, particularly our magnificent Drakensberg where she and her family often holidayed .. that “one is closer to God in the mountains”.

Three Thorne sisters, Paddy, Muriel and Sylvia with their Mum (Little Granny)

Copy of Copy (2) of Scan3


She was very elegant at my wedding …


Whenever Mum visited us she always commented on this photograph.  She always said that that was the last time they were all well.  She treasured this photo and every time she look at it I’m sure she would have loved to turn the clock back
Dad, Mum, her sister Paddy and Ken

Copy of May 1988 - Ken, Paddy, Mum and Dad - Inyanga

Copy of Copy of Dec 97 - Mum lunch

I have a lifetime of loving, treasured and very special and precious memories, growing up in Rhodesia.   My Dad, Mum and brothers and I are all born and bred Rhodesians.  It was a very sad day when we decided, after her first stroke in 2005, that she could no longer stay in Zimbabwe and needed to be closer to us.   I have blogged about my Mum many times, especially after every visit down to Somerset West in the Cape, where she was cared for in an Old Aged Home.  First in Silver Oaks Lodge, in semi-frail and frail care, and then when the entire frail care unit moved to main buildings of the Helderberg Society for the Aged.   The care she was given from the onset was unbelievable.  My brothers and I are extremely grateful and cannot thank the staff enough for the loving TLC she received, year after year, as she grew more and more frail.  For the last couple of years when she was bedridden, she didn’t suffer from bed sores as she was regularly turned.  Her teas was given via a syringe and she ate all her meals, plus puddings (mushed like baby food).  She never got ill … a testament to the wonderful care she was given

Jeanette was Mum and Dad’s first grandchild..


Bradley was Mum’s first great-grandchild ..



Taken in Jan 2005 – last photo taken before her stroke in July of that year ..

Jan 2005 1

Wonderful treasured memories came flooding back yesterday, tears rolling down my cheeks, as I sat on the patio with images of her during her visits here, with my Dad and after he passed away, on her own, at our home … knitting or hand sewing while she sipped tea or an evening drink, her hands were never idle .. helping me in the garden .. secateurs in hand, picking flowers from my garden.   She created special arrangements for our Christmases, christenings, a wedding in our garden and if she was here, for our birthdays.  There were always flowers everywhere in the house when she was here.  If I didn’t have any flowering, she would pick armfuls of greenery!  She would decide at the last moment to bake scones or a cake.  We always had nibblies for teas, even it was Bakers biscuits which were a treat for her and Dad as for many years they weren’t available in Zimbabwe.

Images of her playing tennis on the lawn with the children as they were growing up … holding Elaine as a toddler while she kicked and splashed in the pool .. her laugher and her beautiful smile. She enjoyed a good debate !!   Always asking questions of the children, wanting to hear about their friends, activities and interests.  The long chats she and I had in the kitchen, garden, car and out shopping where she would wander with eyes wide at our fully stocked shelves.

Mum was active all her life. Tennis eventually gave way to bowls at the age of 70+ ..went to yoga classes for a while … played bridge, belonged to floral societies in both Bulawayo and Harare, and enjoyed Ikebana classes in the last few years before her stroke. She loved the simplicity of it, as do I, and whenever she did an arrangement here, in our home, she would always say as she made spaces between the stems … “let the butterflies fly through”

And she sang!! My Mum sang in various choirs throughout her life.  In her early twenties she took the part of the one of the Three Little Maids in The Mikado.  I can hear her voice now singing .. “ three little maids from school are we .. … …” I loved playing dress up in her silky kimono, with exquisite fan in hand.   She was always singing or humming around the house, garden, driving in the car, etc.  We always knew where she was by her voice!!

She regularly had a short afternoon nap, a power nap 🙂  During one of my several visits to Zimbabwe when my Dad was aging and went to bed early, she and I would relax with  a glass of wine chatting or watching TV.  She didn’t want to waste too many hours sleeping because ” you sleep when you dead, and that’s for a long time”

Somerset West :  Silver Oaks Lodge and later Helderberg Society for the Aged ..


Copy of Collages22

P1020515- Nov 2009

Jan : the last time we were together, with Barry and Gavin (Paddy’s son’s/my cousins)..

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I miss you so very much and love you forever Mummy.
May you enjoy your beautiful garden in Heaven which God has created for you and Daddy, and your beloved sister Paddy.
Until we meet again.  Sleep peacefully beloved Mummy xxx

P1120455-Sylvia Rose

Pauline, my sister in law sent me this poem …

The Sailing Ship – Bishop Charles Henry Brent

What is dying?
I am standing on the seashore.
A ship sails to the morning breeze and starts for the ocean.
She is an object and I stand watching her
Till at last she fades from the horizon,
And someone at my side says, “She is gone!”
Gone where? Gone from my sight, that is all;
She is just as large in the masts, hull and spars as she was when I saw her,
And just as able to bear her load of living freight to its destination.
The diminished size and total loss of sight is in me, not in her;
And just at the moment when someone at my side says, “She is gone”,
There are others who are watching her coming,
And other voices take up a glad shout,
“There she comes” – and that is dying.

4 Replies to “My Mum : 01.05.1928 – 10.03.2016”

  1. I have lovely memories of having Sylvia to stay with us in Tunbridge Wells, and especially of taking her to the Chelsea Flower Show. She loved it all, the show gardens, the Floral Marquee and of course the Ikebana displays. Our thoughts and prayers are with you, and with Richard and Ian xx

    1. Thank you Judy. She often spoke with fondness of her visit. The Chelsea Flower Show was the highlight of her trip 🙂 I think she had a video camera with her which of course is all on cassettes – I need to convert them all

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