Sylvia Evans (18 Sep 1945 - 3 Jan 2019)

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SylviaMary Ann Evans Hospice

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Heart of England Crematorium Eastboro Way Nuneaton CV11 6WZ
31st Jan 2019

Sylvia Evans

18th September 1945 to 3rd January 2019

Apart from suffering from arthritis for a number of years, Sylv wasn’t unwell, so it was a shock when she had a stroke on Christmas Eve. Following this, she suffered a bleed in her brain on 2nd January 2019 and sadly passed away on 3rd January.

You will all have your own memories of Sylv, and you’ve all come together today with feelings of sadness and an empty place left by Sylv not being here. But sadness is not the only emotion.

I’m told that Sylv would say “I don’t want too much fuss, and I don’t want people being miserable and moping around”. Sylv was a woman who liked things her way, so today we are going to celebrate her life and all she meant to you.

Sylvia Tucker was born post blitz on 18th September 1945 to John and Catherine Tucker, and she was an only child.

Growing up in Middlecotes, Tile Hill, she had a strict up bringing but a happy one. John and Catherine made sure that Sylv was well provided for and she didn’t want for anything. Sylv loved her mum, but she really was a Daddy’s-girl; she Idolised him and she was the apple of his eye.

Sylv attended an all-girls school which backed onto a boy’s school. She could often be found at the back of the school playing fields, at break time, having a cigarette with the boys. She was always more comfortable in the company of boys and found it easier to make friendships with them.

Sylv was great at sports, and the teachers would always try to persuade her to join their sports teams, but she just wasn’t interested.

She was an extremely intelligent young lady. Once she did an IQ test and came out with the result of genius. She was very good at French and had a French pen pal, who she wrote to all the time and they both used to travel and stay at each-others houses. She absolutely loved science, and always said if she could go back in time, she’d have studied something like forensic psychology or crime scene investigation.

When Mark was looking through some of Sylvia’s things, he discovered that when she was 16, she’d won 2nd prize in a ballroom dancing competition in Blackpool, he didn’t even realise she used to dance.

Sylv had a Saturday job whilst at school; she worked in a department store in the curtains and household fabric department. When she left school, she trained to be a secretary and worked in the offices of a large factory.

Velma her eldest child was born in 1967, and Sylv decided to stop working, stay at home and look after her family.

Mark was born three years later, and Anthony arrived in 1971.

Sylv brought up her three children on her own. Being a single mum is hard enough in any era, but in the 60’s and 70’s it was no easy task. She didn’t have a huge amount of money, but she provided all she could and gave them more love than they could have wished for. One of the things that Sylv thought really important was that her children had three square meals a day and she made sure they did, although often she’d just have a jam sandwich herself.

When the children were older, Sylv decided to return to work and in the early 1980’s she started working for the council. At first, she worked in the typing pool and later moved to the admin department of the bin collection fleet. It was at the council that Sylv met Nancy, who soon became her best friend and they always stayed in touch.

Nancy invited Sylv to the Five Street Working Men’s Club, where she discovered her love for darts and dominoes.

Wednesday night was lady’s night; Sylv and Nancy would be there every week. Anthony was in his teens at the time and they used to take him along as a lucky mascot. The ladies loved him. He used to play darts with them to warm them up in preparation for matches, and they’d buy him half pints of lager; he was in his element.

Sylv was one of the best domino players around, she was a demon at 5’s and 8’s and won many trophies. She considered herself a dab-hand at darts too, but Anthony disputes this one.

Sylv became the league secretary of darts and dominies. The family aren’t quite sure how this came about but being quite a force of nature it’s highly likely that she let the club know what they could do differently and earned the role that way.

At the Five Street Working Men’s club, darts and dominos wasn’t the only thing Sylv discovered a love for; this is where she met Geoff, the love of her life.

Geoff was care-taker at the co-op in town, he lived four doors down from Sylv and was a regular at the club. At first, they were just good friends. Sylv had a soft spot for Geoff but she was extremely protective of her children and certainly wouldn’t have introduced them to someone unless she was one hundred percent sure of them. Everyone soon learned that Geoff was pretty exceptional when Sylv and Geoff officially got together in around 1990.

Geoff put Sylv first without question. He accepted her children as his own and taking on two teenage boys was no mean feat. There were moments that they gave him quite a tough time, but he persevered and never gave up on them.

They say opposites attract and this certainly was the case; Geoff was a gentle and timid man, Sylv often said he was too nice for his own good. Sylv on the other hand was a straight-up kind of lady, feisty and outspoken. They complimented each other, and they absolutely adored each other, he genuinely worshipped the ground she walked on and she’d found someone she loved, who loved her, and most importantly someone she could trust with her heart.

Sylv and Geoff loved to travel together, mainly in Europe. They loved history and architecture; Sylv absolutely loved Italy, and she talked about Pompeii for ages afterwards. They spent many a New Year in Amsterdam, revelling in the celebrations, watching the fireworks and visiting the diamond factory; they enjoyed the laid back and easy-going culture there. Sylv always said she wished she’d been able to go to Egypt and on a safari holiday.

In 1991 their first grandchild JJ was born to Velma. For a while JJ and Velma lived with Sylv in Duke street. Sylv absolutely adored JJ.

In recent years Sylv hadn’t seen quite so much of Velma and JJ, but she always said she loved them and missed them.

Sylv loved being a grandma and was beside herself when Shannon arrived in 1996 And Anya in 2002.

Sylv was incredibly proud of her grandchildren; Shannon went to university and earned her degree in Psychology and Criminology

Anya, a very talented young lady, can play the acoustic, electric and bass guitar, and the ukulele; all self-taught. She is modest and doesn’t play for others but Sylv heard a recording of her playing and thought she was amazing.

When Anya passed her photography GCSE, Sylv couldn’t wait to buy her a professional camera. That was Sylv - she would encourage you 100% with whatever you wanted to do as long as it made you happy.

Sylv was a devoted grandma, her grandchildren were the most important thing to her. This was another thing Sylv loved so much about Geoff, he was a doting grandad too, Sylv called him grumpy gramps, but I’m told he was far from grumpy.

Sylv always said that Shannon was a carbon copy of her, that was the biggest compliment she’d ever received. Sylv was the coolest Grandma around, in fact she was more of a friend. That’s how Sylv earned her nickname G’ster from Shannon and Anya; after Gangsta Grannie.

Sylv looked back and felt sad that she wasn’t able to give her own children everything she wanted to because of financial restraints, but she certainly made up for it with her grandchildren and was determined that no-one would ever go without again.

Sylvia had suffered with arthritis for some years and retired from the council after 20 years due to bad health. Working had always been a means to an end for Sylv, so actually she was over the moon to be retiring.

This meant she was free to spend more time with Geoff doing things they loved. They met up with friends for holidays in Weymouth, went to the club five nights a week. Sylv had a few lucky wins at bingo and as always, she thought of everyone else before herself; winnings were put in a jar and would pay for a holiday for one of the family or buy something for the grandchildren.

Sylv had a very cheeky sense of humour and would lovingly tease everyone;

Once Sylv and Geoff were at the Five Street Bingo with Anthony, Lisa and some friends. One of the ladies they were with had a win and in a very posh voice shouted ‘house’. Sylv shouted ‘Bungalow’ and this was the start of a long-running joke where any win resulted in them all calling out “bungalow!”

Anthony never lived down his faux pas when he cooked toad in the hole; the mix wasn’t quite right, and it ended up more like a cake. In the future whenever toad in the hole was mentioned; Sylv would say – “We’re having sausage cake!”

Shannon and her boyfriend went for a late-night walk and Sylv heard how unnerved he was by some mysterious noises which they discovered was a badger. Sylv didn’t let him live it down and even bought him a toy badger for Christmas.

If Sylv teased you it meant you were alright, if she was nice to you, that was when you should worry.

Sylv’s husband Geoff died 1999. They met late in life and had only had nine years together, but they were nine of the happiest years of Sylv’s life. They made the most of each other and their time together. We can only imagine how much Sylv must have missed Geoff, but she found a way to carry on enjoying life.

Sylv often said she loved animals more than people, and donated money to various animal charities every month. She had a border collie cross called Mitsy who she loved very much, and Sylv was heart-broken when Mitsy died. Her pet tropical fish used to get their tummies tickled and Shannon’s pet hedgehog, known to Sylv as Munchkin, was treated like a grandchild and was even given gifts at Christmas. Sylv liked to watch nature programmes on TV and delighted at funny clips of animals on Facebook pages.

Having an active brain was important to Sylv, so she regularly played Facebook games and did puzzles like sudoku and brain teasers.

Retail therapy was the answer to every problem; it could be food, clothes, household goods; Sylv just loved to shop, in fact her greatest moment of clarity when she was in hospital was when a shopping trip was suggested!

Sylv loved cooking; she baked cakes, taught Shannon to cook and I’m assured that she made the best Sunday dinner on the planet.

She was creative and loved making things, she was great at sewing and made fleecy house coats for Shannon and Anya, did cross-stitch, crocheted scarves and knitted toys for the hospice shop.

Sylv loved flamboyance, she loved camp, she loved sparkle and glitter and she loved people, who like her, were themselves and made no apologies.

Sylv had lived through tough times and knew the true meaning of the saying ‘What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger’.

Sylv decided that she would live life on her terms, and often said “It’s my way or the highway”

She didn’t agree to things to please others; she did things she wanted to do, things that made her or her family happy.

She spoke her mind, and didn’t let things fester, she may not have been the most tactful, but you knew where you stood.

Sylv was no pushover once on her mobility scooter in town, a man tried to take her handbag; she took her walking stick and hit him; she broke his nose. How he must have regretted that.

Sylv was independent but she was also thoughtful and kind.

A lady who would ask you to take her shopping so you thought you were helping her, but it was just a cover so she could buy you some shopping.

Someone who knew just when you needed to talk, and offer you a mug of coffee, chatting about anything and everything because she wanted to know about you.

She’d pretend to buy something for herself, soon decide she didn’t want it anymore and give it to you. You’d know very well that it was intended for you in the first place.

She cherished, loved and provided for her family always – they were her world, the only thing that mattered and she was their inspiration.

Mark lived with Sylv. As her health deteriorated, he supported and cared for her.

Anything she needed, anywhere she needed to go, he was there for her. If it wasn’t for Mark, Sylv would not have been able to stay at home and remain independent. Sylv described Mark as her rock.

Poem ‘Mum’ by Anthony

Mum was not a religious person, but she was definitely spiritual.
On occasion our conversation would turn to death and what comes next
Mum had no fear of death whatsoever!
When asked why this was so, Mum would recall being with her dad when he passed.
In the moments before he passed, all of grandad’s pain faded away and an aura of warm, blissful peace came over him. He squeezed mum’s hand and gently said to her “Oh Sylvia it’s beautiful”.
Grandad’s final words changed Mum’s outlook and mum drew strength from it.
No matter what she lost or how much she hurt mum knew there was always something wonderful waiting for her.
I truly believe that is where she is now.
In her final moments Mum too became calm and an aura of blissful peace literally shone from her.

Mum’s final lesson for us was the same lesson Grandad had given her.
Love you to the moon and back, and twice on Sundays!

Sylv said she saw her dad on Christmas Eve. She wanted to go with him, but it wasn’t quite time, she wanted to say her goodbyes first.

Once again; on her terms.

She made a point of telling her family that she loved them, it was important to her that they knew.

She reassured them that she was OK, she didn’t care that her time was up, and she promised she’d always be with them.

At the end Sylv’s boys Mark and Anthony were with her. She held their hands tightly. “Don’t worry mum, we have each other, we’ll look after one another” they reassured her.

This must have given her peace as she gave both of their hands a squeeze and slipped away.

Sylv wasn’t afraid, she knew there was something else, find comfort knowing that she is with her dad, the love of her life Geoff and Mitsy.

Poem: Native American Prayer for the Grieving

I give you this one thought to keep
I’m with you still. I do not sleep. I am a thousand winds that blow
I am the diamond glints on snow
I am the sunlight on ripened grain
I am the gentle autumn rain
When you awaken in the morning hush,
I am the swift uplifting rush,
Of quiet birds in circled flight
I am the soft stars that shine at night
Do not think of me as gone
I am with you still, in each new dawn.
Do not stand at my grave and weep.
I am not there I do not sleep. Do not stand there at my grave and cry
I am not there, I did not die.

Remember the good times, the love, laughter and tears that you shared, as you quietly let her go.

Long may you remember Sylv’s wonderful personality, sense of humour and attitude in living life to the full. A woman who loved her family more than anything and enjoyed the simple things in life.

Be thankful for the life of this unique lady who gave so much of herself, and the difference knowing her made to you. Find comfort knowing that she’ll live on with you in the memories you hold within your hearts.

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