On 28th January 2017, my mum, Lucy Mary Hodgson passed away after a long battle with Lymphoma. Here is the eulogy I read at her funeral.
Thank you for coming to celebrate Lucy’s life with us. It means a lot to see you all here. We can’t possibly hope to fully capture her in this eulogy – everybody has their own perspective, but we’ll do our best. When I say we – my Granny Mary and aunt Paula had a big hand in this.
Lucy was born in Stratford upon Avon on 20th April 1956. She was the eldest daughter and the third of seven children. Mary, her mother, described her as “an exceptionally beautiful baby who rarely cried”. Some qualities are clearly set at a very early age.
The family moved to Woking when Lucy was five and she attended the Providence Convent School, which was situated on the site of this church. She was a confident little girl and played the leading role of Little Red Riding Hood in a school production.
However, as she got older and changed schools she became shy, quiet and self-effacing. Perhaps because of this people often underestimated her. She was amongst the first intake when the new St John the Baptist School opened here in Woking.
She enjoyed spending a lot of time at the swimming pool with her sisters and by the age of twelve she could swim a mile. Throughout her life whenever she was near the sea she’d want to get in for a quick dip – even in ridiculous Welsh winter conditions.
On leaving school she went to work at Slocock’s Nursery and studied horticulture concurrently at Merrist Wood.
Later, working in the greenhouses at Woking Park, she met and fell in love with the park’s foreman, Adam Hodgson. They married in 1979 and moved to Guildford where Adam started a landscaping business – Adam the Gardener.
To help the business Lucy became adept at administration and book-keeping. They bought an early Amstrad PC, and she was soon an expert with spreadsheets and accounting software – long before most people even knew what they were.
They had four children: me, Alice, Florence and Abigail. Lucy loved motherhood; her children were her pride and joy, she adored their company and would do anything for them.
Lucy had fond memories of her own childhood camping holidays, travelling all over the UK in a succession of family minibuses and converted ambulances. She kept up this tradition with her own family, making numerous trips to France, North Wales and even the Isle of Man to see the TT Races. Sometimes we joined forces with Sheila, Stephen or our friends’ families, camping en-masse so all the children – and adults – could play together.
She also took the family further afield to soak up the culture and sunshine in Malta, Cyprus, Florence, Rome and Florida.
Lucy travelled to Sri Lanka on her own, to Vietnam with her sister Sheila, and on a variety of European trips with her mother and as many of her siblings as possible. She loved to savour the local sights, cuisine and wine with her family.
She would have loved to have travelled more – she dreamed of seeing fall in Vermont, and of visiting her brother-in-law Piers in Australia. She loved to hear about all her children’s adventures too – firing her own imagination.
Her husband Adam was a keen motorcyclist. He and Lucy attended many events together including all night rides and large weekend events with the local classic motorbike club.
In 1994 Adam died in a motorcycle accident, so Lucy was left to close the business and bring up her children alone. His sudden death when Abigail was only two was a crushing blow; but she faced this, as with all the challenges life threw at her, with dignity and fortitude. She was a very private person and kept most of her worries to herself.
Adam supported Crystal Palace football club. Lucy took up his season ticket and we cheered them on from the Holmesdale Terrace together for a couple of seasons. She supported them ever since – taking great delight on the rare occasions when they embarrassed a much bigger team. I still remember her singing variations on “Que sera sera” when they were doing particularly well.
When we children had all started school or university, Lucy looked for work and for a while had three part-time jobs – helping various small businesses with their admin.
Finally, she began working in the office of Woodbridge Hill Surgery, just around the corner from her home. She loved the job and adored the people she worked with. She started small, effectively just sorting the post. Over time she grew tremendously, taking on more and more complex roles. She worked her way right to the top, becoming Practice Manager – an achievement she was rightfully very proud of.
Lucy had many hidden talents. In Woking at her old home there are several remarkable paintings completed when she was in her 20s. She carried on dabbling throughout our childhood, and in more recent years became a fixture at a local art class, developing her own signature watercolour style and making some good friends. Every year she would exhibit her work and sell her own Christmas cards – and then downplay her accomplishments.
Not only was she a very talented artist, she could name most plants by their Latin names, and tell you when to prune them. She loved gardening, and every year she had some Gooseberries, Raspberries and Sweet Peas on the go. She could help you with your tax return. She knew all the details of football leagues and transfers, Formula 1 fixtures and tennis tournaments (all of which are quite incomprehensible to the rest of her siblings). She was a friend of the Royal Academy, a member of the National Trust and of the Guildford Cinema Club. She became engrossed in TV series as diverse as Star Trek, Doctor Who and Masterchef. More recently she took up badminton and proudly stuck to a workout regime at a local gym.
She loved music, attending festivals and gigs at first as a teenager, and then later with her own children. She saw some really big names over the years. Her vinyl record collection is huge – and she would relish the opportunity to get them out and dance around the living room, usually with one or more of her daughters. Whenever we were planning to embark on a long car journey, she would compile a mix-tape to liven up the trip and make the miles fly by.
She was also a big reader, regularly losing herself in a good book. Her most recent accomplishment was completing the entire back catalogue of Kate Atkinson.
Although she lived in Guildford she came every Saturday night to Woking to attend mass here with Mary, and then to stay and catch up over supper and a glass of wine.
She was never particularly evangelical about her faith – it was a very personal thing. She knew where she was going, and that gave her strength right at the end.
Lucy had a sweetness and kindness about her that made her the perfect restful company – she was one of those people that made you feel better the moment they appeared. She was funny, sympathetic and constantly good natured.
Nevertheless, she had strong views about everything, from politics and current affairs to books, films, artists, as well as food and travel.
I loved chatting with her over a long drawn out breakfast (her poison was bacon) discussing anything and everything, especially if it was on the front page of the Guardian.
She was open-minded, with no big expectations of you. She wasn’t pushy, but rather wanted you to find your own way. She would love you whatever you did – and she loved to hear all about it, too.
She got great pleasure from simple things; a new baby, cats, a Belgian chocolate truffle, a Stevie Wonder track, chickens, jigsaws, Sudoku, a good cheese, a glass of Petit Chablis in the sun, and all of our big family gatherings – especially Christmas in Woking and new year in Cheltenham with Stephen and Helen.
Of course, the new baby Lucy was most excited about was Alice and Angus’s daughter. She was thrilled to be a grandmother and loved to spend time with little Astrid, see the latest photos and to hear about every stage in her development.
A little over a year ago Lucy was diagnosed with a rare and very aggressive blood cancer. One of the things I’m most proud of is how she faced up to it: Her attitude was always strong, positive and forward-looking. Although she was often scared, she found the strength to push on through and take on the next challenge. Even at her lowest, she never gave up hope.
In her mind, the future was always bright. And of course, it still is – it’s just that now we’ll have to face it without her gentle loving presence.