Just over two weeks ago, my Mum, Dilys, passed away at the age of 82. She had been battling cancer for the last three years and had enjoyed some long periods of remission but very sadly, since last May, she had become desperately ill and we knew that it was only going to be possible to treat the symptoms of the disease.
Dilys was a remarkable woman who led a full and happy life. She was extremely fortunate to find the right life partner and I was blessed and immensely priveleged to have her as my Mum. I count my lucky stars that I had her in my life for just over fifty years and my Dad and I have some wonderful memories of some amazing times, particularly as for over twenty of those years, we all worked and run a business together.
The last twenty or so weeks have been pretty intense for my Dad and I as we trotted backwards and forwards to Bronglais Hospital to see her and to try and secure a care package to bring her home - which is all she wanted. Eventually, we got her home on the 21st September and with the help of the wonderful Beacon of Hope, Aberystwyth, we were able to look after her for the remaining twelve days of her life. She passed away peacefully on the 3rd October with both my Dad and I at her side.
It's so surreal now to realise that I won't see her or be able to talk to her anymore, but her influence on me is so very great. I miss her beyond comprehension, yet I know she will be with me always.
My Dad Tom and I wish to acknowledge with thanks all of the meassages of sympathy and kindness extended to us at this difficult time. We also want to thank all of the health professionals at Meurig Ward, Bronglais Hospital, the Beacon of Hope, Aberystwyth, the community nurses of Church Surgery (led by Kryshia), Mari Curie and Cere-Care (led by Ceri) for all their help over the last few weeks - you have become like our family.
What follows below is a tribute to my Mum which was read out at her funeral last week, by our old family friend, John Bailey:
Dilys was born in Willesden, London, in 1929; the middle daughter of Julia and CharlesLloyd Davies who kept a dairy in Roundwood Road.
Certainly, Charlie Lloyd Davies decided to remain true to his Welsh roots in giving his three girls, Megan, Dilys and Gwyneth, three very Welsh names. However, he could not have known how appropriately he named his middle daughter - for ‘Dilys’, when translated into English, means: ‘honest, sincere and something which is genuine’. And Dil, (as she was popularly known), was absolutely all of these things.
When war broke out in 1939, Dilys and elder sister Meg were evacuated to Charles’ cousin, Dyfi in Machynlleth. This wonderful woman filled her home, Bryntyrnol, with eight children (including her own), belonging to friends and family. Dilys thrived on Welsh country life. She attended school in Mach and learned Welsh. Bryntyrnol offered her the security and routine which she cherished all her life.
At Bryntyrnol, every child had chores to complete. There was a day for baking, a day for laundry and on Sundays after supper, the children might have an impromptu concert, with every one doing a turn. Dilys, who had a wonderful singing voice, would entertain her housemates with her party piece, ‘When the Deep Purple Falls’ - top of the hit parade at the time, and which she would often refer to in later years as: ‘My Song’.
On returning to London after the war, Dilys attended Tottenham County School where she excelled at English, French, Domestic Science, Singing and Commercial Subjects. Sadly, at the age of thirteen, she lost her father and her mother, whom she adored, courageously continued to raise her three girls and run a business. Ever methodical and efficient, in 1948, Dilys started work as a secretary - first at the Library Association and then as PA to the Managing Director of Challen Pianos.
Like most London Welsh girls, Dilys and her sister would attend dances at the London Welsh Club in Gray’s Inn Road. At about the age of sixteen, she met a sociable type called Tommy Francis. Dilys, (who had by now grown up to be a bit of a stunner), had no shortage of young men wanting to take her out - and Tom would tease her mercilessly about some of these hapless admirers, often turning up and embarrassing her when she was out on dates with them!
It is pertinent I think, that she and Tom became best friends, long before romance ever entered the equation. From Best Mates they became Soul Mates, eventually marrying in 1958.
Their’s was a partnership in every sense: in business, in friendship and in love. This was sealed with the birth of their daughter, Lisa, in 1960.
Together, - (and throughout their lives, they worked as a team, doing absolutely everything together) - Tom and Dil ran various businesses.
First in London: at Amwell Cottage Dairy, (when I first got to know Tom and Dilys as a milk boy); the snack bar at Newbury Street, (where I became a partner); then when they moved to Wales in 1969, taking over the Buckley Arms, Dinas Mawddwy, (where I was also involved). Finally, they started the Queensbridge Hotel on Aber’s Promenade, where they remained for thirty years, with the three of them running the business until Lisa was elected to the National Assembly in 2003 when they eventually retired - first to Queen’s Square and then to Bryneglur. They had a wonderful social life with many friends and during their time at the Queensbridge were remembered for being very charismatic hosts.
There are many words which encapsulate the spirit of Dilys.
True to her name, she was honest and she didn’t suffer fools.
She was both fun and very funny - a natural comedienne with a talent for mimicry. Many of you in your messages of condolence have fondly remembered her wonderful sense of fun and her great wit and humour which would have us doubled up with laughter. But she also possessed an incisive intelligence and compassion - she totally ‘got’ people and understood them. She was very giving and was always generous to others; often before being generous to herself.
She cherished ‘her Tom and her Lisa’ and looked after them with great care and love.
Even Tom's boxers were ironed with creases down the front! More than anything, she liked to be at home within her own square mile and adored cooking and entertaining for her friends and family.
She was also determined and very brave. Typically, when she was first diagnosed with cancer, she arrived home from the hospital with Tom and Lisa and said:
‘Right, let’s have a gin and tonic and a fag and then we’ll get on with this…’
Throughout her illness and even towards the end, she was upbeat, fun to be with and funny. So much so, that the carers, (who were caring for her at a sad and difficult time), used to look forward to seeing her.
Dil always soldiered on. Loyal and tenacious, she never faltered in her support for those she loved and cared about.
In her last days, all Dilys wanted was for Tom and Lisa to carry on and look after each other – that was her message to them and one they will carry forward. She would urge us all to remember the good times and we are blessed to have so very many.
Dilys loved and she was loved.
She was the love of Tom’s life;
She was Lisa’s constant guiding star;
She was my very good friend.
Dilys Francis - the very ‘genuine’ article.