Thursday, April 7, 2016

Kimberly’s Memories of Grandma

(These words were written by Kimberly and spoken by her at Grandma's memorial service on April 02, 2016.)

Kimberly and Kiera visiting Grandma

When I close my eyes and picture Grandma, I find myself lounging in the backyard in the middle of summer. I feel the cool breeze blowing through the pear tree, I smell the warm scent of tomato plants, and I hear the cicadas’ buzz echoing in the air. I check for red raspberries on the bush next to the front gate, eat a couple and the seeds get stuck in my back molars.

Grandma comes out of the back door from the kitchen wearing a delicate white blouse etched with eyelets and a soft button down blue skirt with apron tied around her waist. Her permed silver hair is brushed up to the side and the sun reflects off one lens of her glasses. She sits down on a lounge chair, immediately pops back up, and asks, “Can I get  anyone a cold drink?”

We play cards for hours; Mexican rummy and cribbage. We talk about everything and nothing and end up on a very silly topic where we laugh hysterically, and can’t stop. Grandpa comes out the back door after his nap and lights a cigarette.

“What’s so funny?” He asks as he sits  down on the edge of the brown painted picnic table.

It’s quite an ordinary day but among the most cherished moments of my childhood.

Every summer, I looked forward to going to Montreal. Grandpa would always say, “I hope you don’t get too bored while you’re here.”

But I was never bored with Grandma. Grandma was my favourite person in the world. She didn’t entertain me while I visited her, she didn't  need to; she let me into her life and brought me along everywhere she went. Though we were generations apart, we were best friends.
Grandma and Grandpa with Kimberly, David and Aislyn

Sitting at her kitchen table, she would tell me her stories of growing up in Milan during the war and what life was like before electricity. She brought her father, Grandpa George to life by mimicking his Scottish accent, and speaking of how hard he worked on the farm. She spoke of her mother, Grandma Helen, a former teacher, talented piano player and hard-working housewife who prepared dinner at lunch time and supper at dinner time. This always made me laugh when I was little because I had no concept of farming life. She said Grandma Helen had a strict schedule of housework but would ditch it at the drop of a hat the second Grandpa George decided they should do something spontaneous.

Grandma confessed she was somewhat lonely when she was a girl as there were no other kids her age to play with in Milan. Not wanting to pester her older sister Shirley by being a tag­-along brat, she taught herself some French so she could befriend the French kids; one of whom she said she got into trouble with when they thought it was a good idea to ‘paint’ the side of a white house with mud from handfuls of dug up sod.

Through many stories of friendships throughout her life, I saw how Grandma would always look for the good in people, even if they weren’t well-liked. She had a heart for people who were different, outcast, lonely or unpopular and she sought to be their friend.

Grandma loved her family. She married Grandpa at 18 and smiled secretively when I asked how he proposed to her. I never found out the details to that story for some reason!

Grandma with Kimberly and David
Grandma spoke of settling in Pierrefonds and recalled how grateful she was to have with Auntie Jean and Uncle Rod nearby throughout the years, and how supportive and thoughtful they always were.

She talked about how Joanne was such a kind and smart kid and that Alyssa was just like her. She laughed that Luka drank empty beer cans at New Year’s dinner as a toddle and chuckled at how Louis kept him in line.

I liked hearing stories of my dad and uncle Ted getting into trouble as kids and how poor Auntie Kathy and Uncle Alan were the innocent victims of their many pranks. Grandma loved her children for each of their unique qualities.

She loved my mom like a daughter and her tried to keep Tabasco in the house for her at all times. She relentlessly pursued David's affection even though he was a tough nut to crack.

She loved Uncle Bill like a son, and wished she could whistle as well as he did. When Liam and Aislyn were born Grandma’s heart multiplied with super grandma skills. She really enjoyed going to Kingston to babysit them over the years.

Great-Grandma holding Kiera
She welcomed Winnie and Sharl to the family with an open heart and I will never forget how bringing Kiera to the nursing home caused Grandma to smile like the sun. She would have loved Jonah and Audrey just as much, and I pray that a piece of her spirit will find its way to David and Winnie’s new baby.

We spent a lot of the time in her kitchen sharing stories and cooking meals. Grandma taught me how to use a knife and how to roll out a perfect pie crust for quiche, tourtiere or lemon meringue pie. When our work was done, she’d let me make a mess with soap bubbles in the sink. Grandma had the ability to whip up a meal out of nothing.

One time Grandma and Grandpa took us to Auntie Ruth’s cottage in North Hatley, and with very few groceries and basic pantry items, she managed to make an entire dinner complete with poor man’s pudding for dessert. Dave and I thought she was a magician.

I was always happy to spend my time with Grandma. I followed her everywhere... and many times we would end up here, at Westminster church. This church was a huge part of Grandma’s life and over many summers, her friends became my friends. Grandma and her friends from this church showed me what it looked like to love the community. I accompanied grandma to visit sick people. One time a few of us brought lunch over to someone who had recently lost her husband and we stayed and hung out with her all afternoon.

Another summer, a new minister moved into town and Grandma brought me to help her and her friends clean the house from top to bottom to get it move­-in ready for the minister and his wife. I also helped out with the strawberry socials, and I learned how to make fancy cucumber sandwiches. Grandma and her church friends were an inspiration to me, because they were so dedicated to making this church a meaningful place that selflessly served the needs of others. These ladies were the backbone of the church; they were the hardworking, practical, and loving hands and feet of Jesus.

Grandma loved Jesus, and she shared this love with me with a childlike spirit. One time I told her I watched Jesus Christ Superstar at school and she said to me, “I saw that musical too and loved it. Believe me if Jesus came to town preaching like that, I would drop everything and run to follow him.”

Grandma’s faith was unshakeable and she told me that when the time came, I should try not to be too sad at her funeral because she would be dancing in heaven. At the time, the thought disturbed me, but these words have brought me so much comfort in the past couple weeks.

Grandma was truly a special person to so many of us. She was a special person to me. I will always cherish the values she taught me with her life, and I will always have her with me in my heart... and one day, Grandma, I will dance with you in Heaven. 


Grandma with Kimberly and David

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