The following is a eulogy to Hazel read at Hazel's
My life with Hazel by Barrie Smith
Hazel and I first became a couple when we met at Treforest Secondary School in Pontypridd, having both tried and gloriously failed our 11 plus exams. In later years we discovered we had actually met as babies in the local health care clinic.
Secondary School was the start of our life together some 65 years ago. I can remember as if it were yesterday, waiting outside the school gates at the end of the day when she would come out with her basket covered by a gingham tea towel, underneath would be her lovely pasties and welsh cakes that she had baked in domestic science.
We had happy days at school where we both became involved in drama and acting. Hazel’s great moment came playing in the Xmas panto and singing what I am sure many of you will remember:
“In a tiny house, by a tiny stream in Gilly, Gilly, Ossenfeffer, Katzenellen Bogen by the sea”
Unfortunately Hazel, not having the best singing voice and overcome by nerves came out with.........
“Gilly, Gilly, salt and pepper, castanellas broken by the sea.”
It didn’t help matters, with me and my friends sitting in the front row all of us crying with laughter.
Throughout her life wherever we went she would make a point of telling people she went to school with Tom Jones.
One of the songs we shall be singing is “Once I had a secret love“, by Doris day. It held special memories for us both, as walking up to Pontypridd common, we would stop halfway, sit on a bench for a cuddle and I would sing that song to her. Those were precious moments and I will treasure them forever.
After leaving school Hazel worked as a shorthand typist for a local transport company where she was highly thought of. After working for my late father followed by several other jobs I joined the army in 1960. On Xmas eve that year we got married, I was in army battle dress, it was snowing and we had no money. The Baptist minister felt so sorry for us he gave me back the money I had paid for the organist, stating he thought we needed the money more than him. I think there were about eight people at the wedding and the reception was held in the front room of my aunt’s council house.
I joined my battalion and was stationed in Bulford, (near Salisbury) Hazel who was pregnant with Stephen joined me , but because I was a new soldier I could not get married quarters so we lived in a broken down caravan on Boscombe Down, it was so cold in the caravan the tea used to freeze inside the teapot.
My wages were £2.95 a week and times were very hard but Hazel just got on with it with a smile on her face.
Looking back there were many funny moments in the caravan but one in particular stands out. The army doctor came out to examine Hazel as she was then pregnant with our second son Antony. He started to examine her when all the curtains fell down as they were only held up with tin tacks. He was mortified and frantically tried to hold them up as Hazel who was partially undressed, covered herself up.
During her pregnancy I had been posted to Canada, on my arrival home Hazel was rushed to hospital and had a difficult caesarean birth. Antony our newborn lived for two days but after a brave fight for life unfortunately died. He was buried in Tidworth Military cemetery and we recently commissioned a new headstone in his memory, it was the family’s intention to visit his grave and commemorate the new headstone. Unfortunately due to Hazel’s illness we have not yet been able to accomplish something she would have dearly loved to be part of.
An overseas posting to Germany followed, where David our second son was born. Sara our Devon born maid was born on our return to Tidworth prior to us moving to Hong Kong. Hazel being the type of person she was, picked up a smattering of German and Chinese whilst overseas to better communicate with the local people. She always loved a good chat with anyone, never mind if they could understand each other or not .!!
Hazel was one of the older wives when we were overseas and took many of the younger girls under her wing when they joined the battalion. She made many friends for life during this period with Sue Lewis being her closest pal.
On leaving the army we eventually moved to Swansea. Hazel worked at Singleton Hospital for 25 years starting as a domestic help, ending up as Ward receptionist. She worked there until she was 72 and immediately on retiring she took up voluntary work as a tea lady in the chemotherapy unit. It was only her health issues which forced her to relinquish her voluntary work as I am sure she would still be working there now if she could. She loved being there, always providing a happy and smiling face to patients and colleagues alike. Hazel being Hazel, as a volunteer tea lady would take pity on everyone there and give them extra goodies as required. Many years earlier whilst working in the cafeteria of the student village she often provided portions of pizza free to students she felt needed sustenance.
As a result of working for some 33 years at Singleton, Hazel seemed to know everyone. Wherever we went in Swansea, or on our regular walks in Mumbles she would invariably meet someone she knew. It never ceased to amaze me. Our favourite family saying, every time it happened was that “she was doing a Hazel” as she stopped to talk to someone she met.
She wasn’t perfect however she had one big failing and that was her obsessive cleanliness. Bathroom, toilet , floors all had to be cleaned and pristine before leaving the house and then cleaned again the next day even if they hadn’t been used.
We had many wonderful holidays together, from cruising in the Caribbean to holidays abroad in Europe and our several trips to Australia to visit our grandchildren.
Many happy and somewhat alcoholic weekends spent away with her brother and sister in law Irene, cousin Alun and his wife Lyn were some of the most enjoyable and fun filled times for her.
We spent many happy hours entertaining in each other rooms with pre dinner drinks. She simply loved the banter and family reminiscing. Despite her illness she was looking forward to another trip away with them at the end of this month.
Hazel was immensely proud of her three children Stephen, David and Sara. All of them have been wonderful in looking after their mum over the last few months, she could not have been given more love from anyone during that time.
With six grandchildren, Rachel, Sam, Luke, Tom, Millie, Eva and four great grandchildren, Hazel will never be forgotten by those who loved her so dearly.
There is so much more I could relate about this wonderful caring woman. She was an exceptional person, who never gave up, worked hard all her life and continued smiling right to the end, even apologising in hospital to the doctors for causing them any inconvenience. She very rarely said anything bad about anyone, preferring to see the good things in people and I am pretty sure that I will not be the only one to miss her dearly.
I would like to thank everyone who cared for her during her illness and also the help and support given to me. I would also like to thank all our neighbours for their kind words and support particularly Rick, Ross, Olivia and Evan.
In spite of the loss of someone as precious as her, I realise how lucky I was to have known and loved her for some 65 years.
Goodbye my sweetheart and sleep well.