My mother - the person behind her dementia

Mary’s mother – the person behind her dementia

There is a lot more to the person than the illness and knowledge of this context can often help to explain their values, feelings and actions.

Margaret Clarke
1921 – 2009

  • Brought up in a strongly principled family, with four brothers and a sister.
  • In WW2 worked for Cable & Wireless on international coded cable messages, was also an Auxiliary Nurse and air-raid fire watcher.
  • Married Joe in 1945 and together they planned a large family.
  • Widowed in 1963 aged 42, several months before my youngest brother was born. Bringing up 5 sons and 5 daughters alone was not easy, but she did really well with the limited resources available to her.
  • Amazingly positive, innovative, resourceful and creative.
  • National President of the Union of Catholic Mothers
  • 1967 Catholic Woman of the Year – one of the first ever awarded this.
  • Leading figure in the National Board of Catholic Women, and the World Union of Catholic Womens’ Organisations.
  • 1976 awarded the Papal medal ‘Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice’, known as the ‘Cross of Honour’ and the highest award to a lay person from the Pope.
  • In Who’s Who of Catholic Life
  • Passed her driving test at 54, first time!
  • Amazing ability at art and craft including: smocking; dressmaking; weaving; crazy paving; wax art; cake decorating (her bible cake was famous for people trying to turn the pages); gold embroidery; black work; embroidered art work; appliqué; macramé; corn dollies; UCM banner making; church robes; (real) tent making; patchwork; jam/preserves; baking; painting and decorating as needed.
  • She regretted never having gone to art school, largely due to the war, even though it didn’t stop her creativity coming out in all directions.
  • Music was important to both my parents, my mother had taught herself to play piano to a decent standard – it was her way of relaxing and I have fond memories of listening to her playing whilst trying to get to sleep.
  • A fantastic organiser, described at her funeral by the Bishop of Portsmouth as “A Power in the Land”.

She firmly believed that most people could create amazing things if they just had a go. Creative works always look more difficult and more perfect to people who don’t attempt them.