“Perhaps they are not stars, but rather openings in heaven where the love of our lost ones pours through and shines down upon us to let us know they are happy.” Eskimo Proverb.
I stand here before you all today on what would be a celebration of my life, my birthday, honoured and humbled instead to celebrate the life of someone who matters to you all. Someone who matters to me.
Isabel Grice. A daughter, a sister, a wife, a mother, a grandma, a great-grandma, an aunt, a great-aunt, a friend.
“Going to Grandma’s” is a phrase that has taken me through the wide-eyed innocence of my childhood, my hormonal teens, my adulthood, 5000+ mile flights back to the U.K. Even my old dog Lady would get excited when she heard that. There was just something so right about “going to grandma’s”.
Everyone did the same. Raided the large container of buns or biscuits strategically placed by the front door, some opting instead for either her mints in the cupboard or the tub of licorice allsorts in the back ‘ole. “Hello grandma!” It didn’t matter who you were – you could be one of her sons, a grandchild, a great grandchild, or a friend of the family, your greeting was always the same. She’d tell you to put the kettle on to make yourself a brew. I try to explain this to the Canadians back in Vancouver where I now reside and they think we have a drinking problem – brew having a very different meaning.
Grandma would be there in her pinafore. More baked goodies would come out of the oven. “Have another”. And of course you would whilst you chit-chatted away. Just don’t turn up hoping to talk about this week’s Coronation Street! This is the lady with whom I spent my last visit in TV heaven. Some of her favourites were Only Fools & Horses, The Two Ronnies, Mastermind, Last of the Summer Wine, Have I Got News for You, University Challenge and how could I forget football, football, football! However, I suspect she tolerated SpongeBob Square Pants.
I’d have to ask her to hang the towel for me from the maiden above the rayburn at least twice per visit – I may have been graced with her wavy hair but alas not her height. I still had to ask when I stayed with her at the end of January. She’d remove a spider for one of us arachnophobics from the “spider bath” so that we’d go upstairs to use the toilet. She was the peacekeeper between my brother and I as we fought as kids over the stripey plate and the pig mug. We’d eat her homemade jam on crumpets toasted on the fire. She’d tell us if the pheasant or woodpecker had been to visit the wall to feed. I’d help her feed the chickens & geese and watch her milk Dot the goat. If she was baking whilst you were there she would always save the bowl for you to eat the residual dough. She had made stew & potatoes when I told her I had gone vegetarian. “Oh it’ll be alright, just pick out the meat and eat the spuds and gravy.” “Grandma, will you make me your rice pudding?” Oh my… say goodbye to your hips as you enjoyed the most decadent dish ever.
In Scottish, her name appropriately means Mother Nature’s prized daughter. When we were kids we would go out with her on Sunday afternoons for long walks in the area. Grandma played along with us when we named the trees at the top of the hill across the road and pretended that they were “alive”. She gave me my love and passion for the outdoors and wildlife. There was very little she didn’t know. Whilst in hospital the other week she had been so pleased when she looked out of her window and saw a bird.
My parents had always light-heartedly said I didn’t get my brains from them, that I had got them from Grandma. I always felt that that was the ultimate compliment. I know she was proud of all of her family, be you a driver, a mechanic, a landscaper, a manager, a nurse, a police dispatcher, a mum, a mountain bike enthusiast, a school child.
Grandma never liked to be the centre of attention. She’s up there now reminding us “don’t make a fuss”. She would not want us to focus on the sadness of her death, but instead look at the happiness we still have in our lives.
A friend of mine reminded me of the following, “Grandparents are love.. They created our families good and bad.. They are our fun, our caring, our glue, our stability.. They made our parents who they are so they could make us such wonderful people.. Yay grandma!!"
Isabel Grice. My grandma, my mum, my sister, my friend, my inspiration, my voice of reason, my strength, my tenacity, my heroine. The person I love so fiercely that I would walk to the ends of the earth for her. The last person I hugged and who hugged me before notification of her passing. She had said to me “Don’t worry love, everything is going to be alright”. And I believed her. I still do. I love you Grandma.