Millicent Patrick was born Millicent Emily Pearce on 19th December 1923. She was the only daughter of one of three brothers, who each had a single daughter and no other offspring. Under the circumstances, it was only natural that the three girls, Beatrice, Millicent and Helen became more like sisters than cousins. For Beatrice’s children, Roger and Judith, and their children and families, Millicent was always Auntie Milly.
The family first knew Auntie Milly when she lived with her mother and father at Capstone Road, Bournemouth in a semi detached house next door to Auntie Lil, her mother’s sister. The two families were so close that Roger and Judith were fascinated as children by the fact that a brick was loosened in the party wall and could be slid out in order that they could communicate with each other.
During the Second World War, Milly worked for the Ministry of Food at the cheese factory in Bailie Gate, Sturminster Marshall and subsequently worked her way through a series of roles in the Civil Service. Before her retirement, Milly held a post of some considerable responsibility at the Bournemouth Law Courts and the list of guests at her leaving party included a number of senior figures from the legal profession, and several Judges, all of whom paid tribute to her unfailing diligence and sense of personal responsibility.
After her retirement, Milly continued working in the law for Aldridge Brownlee Solicitors in Bournemouth, where she gained a great deal of respect. Her knowledge of procedues was very much appreciated as was her now legendary Caramel Shortcake!
Auntie Milly loved her cars and was a member of the Institute of Advanced Motorists. She was a keen ballroom dancer and passed many exams along the way. Of course most of us will remember her with needle and thread in her hand, taking something in, letting something out, or taking something up. Milly even made many of her own dresses. She also loved her bungalow at Anchor Road, Bear Cross which was always kept in the most immaculate condition both inside and out. It was here that on Boxing Day each year, the family would gather for a big feed in what became fondly known as “Milly’s Caf” with the obligatory game or two of pass the parcel afterwards. These were always the happiest occasions for us all.
Auntie Milly had a really dry sense of humour and was always cheerful. She made many friends throughout her life and those friendships stood the test of time. This is partly because she was one of the few people who never had a bad word to say about anyone.
Milly’s family were very important to her and while never living in each other’s pockets, she was a constant. She loved to hear news of the family. For someone who never had children of her own, she was always completely at ease in the company of the younger generation. She thoroughly enjoyed visits from Stephen’s then eight year old step son, Taylor who was equally comfortable with her, and they spent much of their time helping keep the birds and squirels well fed.
Towards the end of her life, Milly had to leave her lovely bungalow behind and move to a care home. Milly approached this major shift in her circumstances with her usual upbeat attitude and threw herself wholeheartedly into life at the home. She was by nature a sociable person and revelled in the many activities on offer at the home whether it be making a Guy Fawkes on November 5th, bonnets at Easter or playing scrabble with her good friend, Fran.
Over time, Milly began to encounter a number of different ailments which were to eventually take her back into hospital. Even then, her sense of humour never left her.
The greatest tragedy to befall Milly in her final days was the loss of her faculties. However, there were lucid periods, when she spoke fondly of her family and friends. There was still so much she wanted to do, and for Milly, every excursion, whether to the garden centre or out for dinner with the family was an adventure to be thoroughly enjoyed. She still saw many such adventures ahead of her inspite of her failing health.
When the time came, her death was not a source of regret for any of the family. We were so grateful that at the age of 85, and in failing health, she continued to have dreams.
Auntie Milly was a one off. A truly remarkable lady who made a positive impression on everyone she met. Someone once said, “everyone should have an Auntie Milly” and as her family, we were lucky enough to do so. She continues to leave a considerable gap in our lives and is sorely missed.