09.04.2011 - 30.04.2001
Off to Girvan today to find Lorna's final resting place. Bought some lovely pink roses at Morrisons, the supermarkert over the road from our B&B.
Lorna Cooke was our father's cousin. She was the daughter of our grandfather's sister, Aunty Meg. I don't remember Aunty Meg much at all, just the adults in our family speaking about her. I don't remember much about Lorna either, except I have a photo of Lorna and I in our back yard, taken when I was about five or six. Lorna and Aunty Meg lived in Brisbane in the early 50s, Aunty Meg's brother and his daughter came out to Australia to visit Meg and Lorna. The brother and sister got on so well together, that when the brother went back home to Girvan, Ayrshire, Scotland he wrote to his sister, Aunty Meg and asked her and Lorna to come to Scotland and live with them, which they did. Can you imagine leaving sub tropical Brisbane in the early 1950s and moving to Scotland! Anyway, they all lived there happily until one by one they died, and there was only Lorna left.
Ever since I was a little girl, I had always been fascinated by our relative who lived in Scotland. She used to send Christmas cards to Mum and Dad and came to visit them in Toowoomba in October 1979 (a day before Dad dropped dead at the age of 61!!) Of course, I had long left home by then and didn't get to see her.
When my husband and I were planning a trip to the UK in 1998, I contacted Lorna and we spent a few days with her in Girvan. It was just lovely and so was she. The weird thing was that we had many of the same mannerisms. After our return to Australia, I corresponded with her and we phoned her several times as well. After a while, we noticed that during some of the phone conversations, that she was sounding a bit vague, so we wrote to her local minister and asked him to let us know if and when Lorna passed away.
Then began a correspondence with Anne Pitt, a friend of Lornas. She wrote one day to tell me that Lorna had been admitted to a nursing home in Girvan, with advanced stages of dementia and would keep in touch a couple of times a year, just to let me know how Lorna was going. I kept writing to Lorna and sending her photographs.
Anne wrote to tell me that on 16 August 2008, aged 92, Lorna had passed away. A couple of weeks later, a big brown envelope arrived from a solicitor in Girvan, enclosing a copy of Lorna's will, advising that after several gifts to friends and the church, Lorna's estate was to be divided three ways, between three families in Australia. What a totally unexpected surprise this was! As Lorna had never married, I suppose we were her only relatives. As I was the only known contact, I provided the names and addresses of the others to the solicitor and after about a year, the will was finalised.
So, now that I was actually in Girvan in April 2011, I had planned to visit Lorna's grave; take Anne Pitt to lunch to thank her for all her kindness; and drop in on the solicitor, just to say hello and thanks for all his work.
First of all, after several letters to Anne, with no reply, finally before we left Australia, I received a letter from Anne's niece-in-law, to say that she had passed away very unexpectedly only a few months prior. How very disappointed I was as I had really wanted to meet her.
So, Peter and I drove to Girvan, which is about 20 miles from Ayr. It is not a very big town at all and while driving down the main street, I noticed the solicitor's office and made a note to call in to see him after we had been to the cemetery. The cemetery was down by the water and as there was a funeral just about to start, the funeral director pointed us in the direction of Lorna's grave, which probably would have taken us quite a long time to find. We found her, in with Aunty Meg, plus four from the McGarva family, who must be related to Meg and Lorna somehow. The pink roses looked lovely. We spent quite a long time at the cemetery and then decided to call in on the solicitor, Peter Sharp, before having some lunch and driving back to Ayr.
Peter Sharp was also the Real Estate Agent in Girvan. I introduced myself to the girl at the front desk by saying, "Hello, I'm Wendy Button from Australia and I have been dealing with Peter Sharp over Lorna Cooke's will, and I would just like to say hello and thank you". Just reiterating here - I said I was from Australia NOT down the road in Ayr. It was 10 to 12 noon, and she said that he had some clients coming at 12. Well, at this stage they weren't in the office. I said that I just wanted to say hello so she went upstairs to see him. After a while she came back down and said that he was seeing clients at 12 noon (still not in the office yet!), then he would be having lunch from 1 to 2, so could we come back at 2pm!! What a jerk! There was nothing to do in Girvan for two hours, so we hopped in the car, and I showed Peter where Lorna's house was, took a couple of photos and then drove back to Ayr.
We called into Turnbury for lunch. Mum was always chastising Peter about his sweet tooth, so I took a photo of his dessert just to tease him.
This is something he DEFINITELY would not eat - haggis in a butcher's window.
We drove to Alloway on the outskirts of Ayr to see Robbie Burn's house. Lorna said we were descendents of his, but I think everyone in Scotland says that!
We also visited Culzean Castle on the way back to Ayr too. In 1998, Phil and I had visited the castle with Lorna, so it was nice to walk around the grounds again and reminise of our visit there with her. It is a lovely castle.
Went back to our B&B and wrote some post cards. Peter walked into town and had a couple of bets on the races and won 80 Scottish Pounds. He is SO tinny. He just picks the horses by their names. He bought back some fish and chips, which we ate in our room. We both had a very good night's sleep.