Liza Augusta Dora Henny Lubbe May 1930 - 2015
It is easy to think of my mum as an eccentric grandmother who collected gnomes. But there was much more to her than that. She was born in Hamlyn, Germany in 1930, where she grew up witnessing the growth of nationalism and all the awful things that went with that, and as a child had no choice but to join the youth organisations. Her father bravely spoke out and wrote that he no longer wanted to be a member of a party that grew to have such grotesque ideals.
At the end of the war she lived through, and witnessed, the atrocities of the advancing allies, until the English arrived and things became more stable. In the years immediately after the war, like most of the population she suffered great deprivation and hardship. So it was a magical moment when she met my dad Jimmy at the age of 18. Her mum (my grandmother) was taking in washing from the British soldiers and my dad turned up with his dirty smalls! This led to them going dancing and the courtship lasted 8 months before my dad’s National Service finished and he was sent back to England.
They continued to correspond for the next 12 months which led eventually, to my dad asking permission for them to marry, receiving in return, a letter of agreement from my grandfather, which we found she was carrying in her handbag the night she went into hospital a few weeks ago.
She came over to get married and that involved a journey that today is Easy jet, but then was trains, boats and more trains - this was the sort of journey that no ordinary person ever undertook in those days. A very courageous, and at the same time frightening journey, all alone with only a suitcase of clothes, to be met by my dad in Liverpool, and to eventually marry in this church in 1950.
It’s hard to imagine now when we all move around the world on exotic holidays, what an enormous culture shock this must have been for our mum. She came from the small country town of Hamlyn and was suddenly in Liverpool, a big city that had been devastated by German bombing. She couldn’t speak the language, but had to set about trying to build a home with a lot of understandable bad feeling to deal with, even going to join a queue with food rationing coupons became a trial..
Small in size but big in determination, she had to set about trying to make a home in an alien country. She obviously missed her home and her family very much. No mobile phones to keep you connected in those days. She had all 4 of us in a reasonably short space of time, and it must have been extremely hard for her to try to create a home for all of us with very little money.
My mum told us all stories of her childhood in Hamlyn. One story that we all loved was about the re-enactment, every Sunday, of the Pied Piper story, performed outside the Town Hall. Because she was the smallest, she was chosen to be the last rat to follow the Pied Piper’s flute music, swinging her tail in her little rat suit, for which she was paid 2 sweets each time she did it. Her dad, our Opa, had been a cigar maker and he played a big part in the church choir and the local music scene where he played the flute and wrote music - she was very proud of him.
One of her stories that we all loved was when she became a legend in her family for generations to come, when soon after getting her first job, aged 15, as a nursery nurse in a kindergarten her and a friend, for no good reason that she could remember, jumped off the bridge in the middle of Hamlyn into the River Weiser. It’s a good job that my mum was already a very good swimmer. Somebody told her father what she had done and she was instructed never to do it again. It’s hard to imagine, for most of you that knew my mum, how she could ever have jumped off a bridge into a fast running river - it certainly amazed us as children.
After my dad’s death my mum continued working and was famous in the area for riding her bike into her late sixties. There is one infamous story that once, near The Rocket, she managed to accidentally turn onto the M62, only realising what she had done when all the lorry drivers began flashing their lights at her.As a family we were all pleased 7 or 8 years later, when mum struck up
a friendship with Vinny, who we all loved very much and he came to live with my mum. Vinny brought a new interest in life and they both shared their continued love of the church. It was another great blow when Vinny died 8 years later.
After this period, mum became a great grandmother and continued to be known to all her grandchildren and great grandchildren as "Nana Pepe.”
Still in her original family home in Rawlinson Road she continued, with even more determination, to create a garden which re-connected her with her own childhood, and so slowly a modest collection of gnomes
grew to be hundreds and was well known in the area, as indeed was she. Whenever out shopping, going to the doctors or waiting in the bus queue there was always somebody who knew her to speak to. So this precis of my mum’s life shows that it wasn’t simply an ordinary run-of-the-mill life, it wasn’t famous, but in its own way extraordinary. To have journeyed here so soon after the war, showed the power of love and her tenacity, particularly in the early days, bringing us all up in a world that still bore some hostility to her homeland.
My mum lived most of her life here in England but always remained proud of the fact that she was German, and has helped us to define ourselves. Lastly, my mum always wanted to protect us against any backlash at school because of her nationality. She was mostly very successful at this, except for one spectacular error of judgment, when she sent Jimmy aged 6 to school one day wearing lederhosen!! An action that in the future, made sure Jimmy knew how to look after himself. So much more to say mum, so little time, but it simply all adds up this - we will miss you and we love you so very, very much.
"ich liebe dich mum,guten nacht"
Jean, Carol, Jimmy & Anita
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