Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Gran's Eulogy

PREFACE: I was four months pregnant with Sofia when I read this out at my Granny's funeral. I remember thinking I might falter. But that was before I felt a burning hot sensation on my shoulder. An arm around me perhaps? Whatever, whoever, it was willing me on, comforting, emboldening. 

Eulogy; Kathleen Mabel (aka Beach granny).

The warmth and care that Gran bestowed entirely on others was testament to the sort of life she lived. One filled with love. 

A tough life at times; but one in which she always maintained her strength and dignity. One where she always seemed to cope admirably with all the hardships she had to face. 

Gran had to be so strong all her life, that even in her final days she found it difficult to let go.

In the end, when she did let go, all I could think of were her grand old sayings; they were countless. ‘Johnson’s in the soup’ springs to mind as one of the more infamous ones. They shall all continue to be passed down through the generations. 

Those generations gather pace. A new Boyle addition is soon to arrive and another Newland in the Summer. Gran would have loved to meet them. She had such a way with children. But then she had such a way with everyone. She was surrounded by friends.

Her and my great Auntie Peggy were a tour de force. Living opposite one another, they were often together.

I can remember one unusually hot summer we were having, when I phoned to check on Gran. I asked if she was drinking enough? ‘Yes my darling, don’t you worry, Auntie Peg is here and we have a bottle open’, sang out the reply.

Gran had a wonderful sense of humour. She was always laughing, always. I mentioned hardships, she had so many tough times thrown at her in her life, and she overcame them all with a smile.

Widowed to first husband Bob as a young woman in her twenties, with daughter Kay not yet 12 months old, she later nursed second husband Ron through illness; her spirit was unbreakable.

A twisted ankle led to a broken leg led to a hip replacement, which led to several more, then leg ulcers and eventually real problems walking. Did she complain? No. She got through it by laughing. 

And if you talk to anyone that knew her, they will all remark on her humour, which at times was streaked with naughtiness. I remember seeing her in the hospital after she had had surgery on one of her hips. Due to her mature years they had chosen not to put her to sleep and so she had been wide awake through the whole thing.

‘How was it Gran?’ I asked, wondering of course what it possibly could have been like listening to the tool shed workings of the surgeon. ‘Oh darling, nevermind that,’ she said, ‘You should have seen the anaesthetist, he was gorgeous!’

Stoic. I’ve never met anyone quite so brave. And at times, (before the ops) with so much get up and go. 

She was still doing a get fit class at the age of 70 and was forever keen to be out and about on her daily constitutional. She loved Southsea seafront like no other. She loved her French language class. She was a brilliant cook. An avid tea drinker. A Chanel no.5 wearer. A card player. A lover of travel. At times a conspiracy theorist. A music lover – no wonder, Grandpa was a Royal Marine Bandsman. And soap lover, from The Archers to Neighbours, she kept up with the lot.

Latterly, she would sit in her chair in the window of Sussex place and watch the world go by. She had her 90th birthday there in the flat, and it is there that I will personally remember her. 

That flat was a haven. Everyone would go there to unwind and invariably fall asleep. Gran used to say, ‘I’m not sure if I’m so very relaxing, or downright boring.’ But we would all find peace there with her.

Something cousin Keiron said to me recently was that thanks to Gran our family is strong, and he is right, the ties are strong and she is responsible for the loving family that I am surrounded by.

Family meant everything to her. She took pride in all her family, and why shouldn’t she, her and Grandpa had made them, us, who we are. She had every right to be proud. What they worked so hard for; well it paid off didn’t it Gran.

Even when ‘times was hard’, they managed to put son Phil through University, I don’t think even they could have imagined just how his career would take off. But it wasn’t just the finance they provided; it was the morals and attitudes that they instilled in their three children and consequently grandchildren that will live on.

Gran had it right. She found the perfect balance. She loved and she lived.

So, Kath the social creature, with an infectious laugh, the doting wife and mother, grandmother and great grandmother, the loyal friend and neighbour, the Matriarch. A woman with a zest for life like no other woman I have ever known.

You may have left a massive void for us all, but if I close my eyes I can still hear you laughing. Rest in peace Gran and have fun up there like only you could.


Anonymous said...

Couldn't comment before, but Em you know how everyone loved your Beach Gran and I am no exception. Beautiful words and know she would be so proud of you always ..
#tearsrollingdownmyface# love you loads xxxx

Emma Oliver said...

Ems, you have caught me off guard, and now the tears are rolling down my face. Thanks so much my love for writing this. She was so special x