For My Grandmother

My amazing maternal grandmother finally passed away about three weeks ago at the age of 101 – yes, she lived over a century and even got a card from the Queen on her 100th birthday (and champagne in her nursing home bed!) This is what I wrote to be read at her memorial service, which happened last Wednesday:

Growing up in Canada, thousands of miles away from my grandmother, I wasn’t able to get to know her well, as many here today will have. This is a sadness for me, but has also been an unexpected blessing in that the rare times I have spent with her have taken on a magical and very special quality. You appreciate with a certain awe the lovely things in your life that you know are rare and precious, and that became the way I treasured time and memories with my Granny.
I’ve sifted through the special memories I have of my Granny in preparation for today, thinking which I could share. There’s the memory of the warm closet where she kept her towels, so at age 5 when I was visiting at her house, she would always have a perfectly warm towel for me when I got out of the bath. I remember how much I loved that simple pleasure.
We don’t have clotted cream in Canada, where I live and grew up, so I remember her going out of her way to serve it with dessert whenever we were visiting, and the ensuing adventure of one particular container of clotted cream as my brother Andrew tried to smuggle it back home on the plane!
There was the time when I was 12 years old and had a crush on a boy for the first time, and I remember thinking that maybe I shouldn’t tell her about him because she might think it was inappropriate or I was too young (even though it was all very innocent!) But when Granny heard that I liked a boy she got quite a sparkle in her eye and wanted all the good gossip! We talked for what seemed like hours that day, sitting in lounge chairs in her back garden.
I saw my Granny for the last time when I came over to travel through Europe for a few months four years ago. She was 97 years old, but still a force to be reckoned with. My uncle and I had afternoon tea with her at her house, and I tried to help out with the food and some light cleaning, but she wouldn’t have any of it – she was still running her own house and very proud of it at that time! I have nothing but admiration for my amazing gran.
More than anything, I’ve always held up my Granny & Grandpa’s relationship as a shining example of what real love looks like. I didn’t get to witness much of it in person, but through stories and my Granny’s actions and words, I knew that what they had was something special. I know that she’s been without the love of her life for 22 years now and she’s been looking forward to seeing him again, and now I’m sure they are together again at last. I only hope to be as lucky as they have been.

I’m not sure I can convey how or why these memories mean so much to me… they are but small, everyday moments in my Granny’s life. But each one shows a snippet of the love, kindness, humour, and tenacious spirit that were all such defining parts of who she was, and that is the woman I hold in my heart as my grandmother. 

I lost my Grandpa on my mother’s side when I was just 10 (the husband of my 101-year old granny who just passed) – he was actually born in 1899 if you would believe it! But I had the rest of my grandparents until last year, and all three of them seem to have gone in fairly quick succession. My Granddad on my father’s side in January 2011 to lung cancer that progressed and took him very quickly, and then my Grandma (his wife)’s body just about collapsed a few months later… I reckon she died of a broken heart later last year. And now that my Granny is also gone, I no longer have any living grandparents. Last year I was still blessed with three.

The realization hit me full force today for some reason, and by chance my aunt came into the office with a ring that had belonged to my Grandma. I already have one from my Granny. Now I have one from both of my grandmothers. I love it!

From my Instagram feed

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