Doug’s Tribute to Grandma
Like all of you here I loved my Grandma. I had a very special relationship with her – as I think did all of her grandchildren. Not everyone has such a special person and such a special relationship in their lives and we should all remember just how lucky we are to have had Grandma.
Our lives are like a tapestry – woven from the threads of the stories that we tell about ourselves and that others tell about us. When we look at the tapestry of Grandma’s life – woven from the stories that we have all told about her here – the pattern that emerges is one that is centred on her family, the love that she had for us, and our love for her.
Talking to her a few weeks ago she told me that she was very proud of her grandchildren and her great-grandchildren. And with apologies to my mother, aunts and uncles, we were what she regarded as her greatest achievement. Her selflessness in regard to us tells us so much about her.
One of mum’s stories that I will claim for myself is that as a little boy I thought Grandma was the most beautiful woman in the world. I still think that, and while I know that she can’t have been perfect, I have never seen any evidence of that.
I’d like to take a moment to mention my dad’s relationship with Grandma, because she was very special to dad. Dad’s own mother died before I was born, and I could see that Dad loved Ethel as if she was his own mother. I could see that Ethel loved dad in return. As she grew older Dad helped to make sure that Grandma had everything she needed – he was very generous with his time and the rest of the family’s as well – that’s how he demonstrated his love. I still remember spending summer at Fitzgerald Ave painting Grandma’s house with the rest of the family.
Two images always come to mind when I think of Grandma. I have the fondest memories of her baking – I can’t think of Grandma without thinking of her baking, especially her scones. Baking was clearly one of the ways she demonstrated her love for us. I remember Jude and I turning up late one night at Randolph St, having flown or driven from Wellington, to find Grandma waiting up for us with fresh baking ready for a late night snack.
The other image I have of Grandma is of her sitting in her chair, reading a book, with a cup of tea and a cat on her lap.
More recently, I’ve watched with real pleasure the delight she took in seeing Conor. Despite her frailty she loved to have a kiss and a cuddle with him, and you could just see the way she loved to have him visit – the way her face lit up when she saw him. I went in to see her recently without him, and the first thing she said to me was “Where’s your son?” One of the few good things to come out of the recent events in her life was that Grandma and Conor got a brief chance to get to know each other, something that I will always cherish.
The things about Grandma that gave us joy when she was alive – her deep love of us, her humour, her generosity of spirit, her kindness and her gentleness – should not trouble us now that she is dead. Instead they should continue to give us joy.
While my Grandma is not around to love me any more – and that is deeply sad – I will continue to love her for the rest of my life.