Vale (19 March 1927 – 14 May 2020)
In 1969 an 8 year old girl called Lesley read a notice in the children’s section of the Adelaide “Sunday Mail” newspaper (the ‘Possums Pages’), facilitating relationships with pen-pals overseas. Lesley duly applied and fired-off missives to a girl named Jean in Glasgow, Scotland. Jean got so many letters that she passed the letter onto her relative, Lesley. Scottish Lesley soon tired of the burdens of correspondence, we believe, but her auntie, Gwen Silvers, kept up written contact with Lesley.
That contact continued between Gwen and Lesley for the next 51 years. Gwen was not computer savvy – so no emails or other modern platforms could be deployed: only old fashioned, handwritten letters, folded and placed into envelopes splattered with ‘par avion’ stamps. From time to time, packages would be exchanged – mementos, souvenirs of place, little trinkets, Xmas gifts – and once in a blue moon, Lesley and Peter managed to visit the chill but friendly city of Glasgow to catch-up in person.
Gwen was not well-off, but she was happy and fulfilled. She did not hanker for fancy things: when Peter and Lesley took her out to dinner or lunch, she invariably preferred more modest eateries (including a local Chinese restaurant where we had the enchanting experience of a Chinese waitress speaking in a broad Glaswegian accent).
Gwen had a winsome way with verse, and published poems and prose locally. (We have a volume of her work in our poetry bookcase, between Shelley and Stevie Smith). We particularly like her poem, Ode to a Guitar – here’s an extract:
Young Harry was a lazy boy
in bed he liked to lurk
While Mum and Dad to keep this lad
Had to go to work.
One day his mother made him go
With her to a Church Bazaar
And there Young Harry got his eye
On a second hand guitar.
…The major chords were bad enough
The minor chords were sad
They drove his father to the pub
And made his Mother mad.
Gwen had a bad fall in early 2020 and required hospitalization. In May, she passed away quietly at the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital in Glasgow, aged 93.
Fear no more the heat ‘o the sun,
Nor the furious winter’s rages;
Thou thy worldly task hast done,
Home art gone, and ta’en thy wages