In loving memory of Anne Frances Patterson who sadly passed away on 20th May 2020 at home surrounded by her children, sisters and brother-in-law, after a short illness.
We have been amazed and comforted by the number of messages, calls, cards and letters received which have spoken of how loved and respected Anne was by them and the many ways she helped and supported others. This has been a huge comfort to the family for which we are truly grateful.
Anne had a happy childhood as part of a large Irish family, not just the Clearys, but also her extended family: the Byrnes, McGarrys, Mulleadys, Murrays and the Timons, both in Birmingham and Ireland.
Anne's Irish heritage loomed large in her childhood; she was an enthusiastic and successful Irish dancer winning 40 medals, and she had many happy family holidays in Ballaghaderreen visiting her Granny and Kilmacthomas to her Auntie Tessie; Stradbally Cove was a place she particularly loved, including spending evenings in the pub eating chocolate and crisps.
Anne was a good scholar, passing her 11+ and attending St Agnes Grammar School but like many in the 1970s, Anne decided to leave school and head directly to worklife. Anne quickly attained employment working in Lloyds Bank, Colmore Row, Birmingham, which filled her weekdays, enjoying discos, parties and fashion with her hard earned wages on the weekends and evenings. It was on one of these nights out in the Sheldon Pub where Anne met Tony, a local lad, who she married and started her much desired family – first Helen, followed by Andrew, Lorna and John. Anne happily left any potential career prospects behind to become a full-time mother - what she saw as her most important role throughout her life.
Despite having her hands full with four young children under the age of 5 and a half, Anne still found time to support Vietnamese refugees settle in to their new lives in Castle Bromwich, helping them complete paperwork and just being a friend in an unfamiliar place. Anne also tirelessly supported her parish (Mother of God, Shard End) and her children's primary school (Guardian Angels) by being a school governor, raising funds at the school and church fayres with her stall selling her popular McNabbs vanilla ice-cream in wafers for 10p. Anne was also a staunch supporter of The Society for the Protection of Unborn Children and regularly organised collections to aid their cause. These are just a couple of examples of Anne's compassionate and caring nature.
Although gifted with intelligence, quick wit and a vibrant personality, Anne's life was blighted by poor health; as a child developing osteomyelitis in her leg and being seriously ill in hospital for some weeks. At the too young age of 29, Anne became run down and started acting out of character. Some may have contributed this towards the challenges and stresses of looking after such a brood of young children, but unfortunately this led to a diagnosis of bipolar disorder, resulting in hospitalization and forced separation from her beloved children. This affected Anne deeply and she would always carry the guilt of "abandoning" her children, something which couldn't be further from the truth.
It may seem that Anne lived a very simple life; as long as she had her fags and her phone to be ringing us, she seemed content, but there were many things that held much importance to Anne:
Family: her parents - Frank and Josie, her sisters - Teresa and Marie, her four children and nine grandchildren - Nadine, Megan, Ben, Cayden, Noah, Bobby, Franky, Georgie and Blake; her nephew - Henry and her brother-in-laws - Andrew and Michael. Also very close to heart were her loyal circle of friends, as well as the support workers, CPNs and professionals who helped and befriended her over the years.
Music: this played a huge part in Anne's life, there weren't many occasions where Heart FM or her eclectic mix of records/tapes/CDs weren't being played (her favourite Michael Jackson, Thriller), 1970s disco, Jesus Christ Superstar (which she knew all the words to), Madonna, Stevie Wonder, Neneh Cherry and even loving her kids' range of music - Prodigy - Fire, 50 Cent - In Da Club, - Chaka Demus & Pliers - Tease Me, DMX : )
Her faith: she was a strong Catholic, and her faith sustained her during her life. Even after her diagnosis in February, Mom still said "God is good".
And not to be forgotten, Peggy, or to give her her full name, Princess Peggy Cleary (now Colhoun), her cat and beloved companion for the last two years.
To sum up Anne, the key element is love: the love of her family – her parents, sisters, children, grandchildren, nephew, brother-in-laws and, although she never met her, her soon to be born great granddaughter, Mei, and this was a love reciprocated. The care given to her by Helen, Lorna, Andrew and John, Teresa and Marie enabled Anne to die with dignity in her own home, surrounded by those who loved her, as she had wished.
Anne will be sorely missed but her memory will be in our hearts forever.