One of the things I’m most thankful for in my life is that while I live ‘overseas’ from my family it’s close enough to get home at a moment’s notice. We had one of those moments just last weekend when my Dad messaged me that his mum, my precious little 101year old Grandma was likely to be leaving us.
On Saturday August 28th she did just that, quietly in her sleep after only one day confined to her bed. She was ready, she had been for a while, and we all suspected that this year it would be our last with her. But even in the acknowledgement that her advanced, wonderful years she wasn’t going to last forever there was a little part of me that thought maybe she would… maybe she’d be one of these who got to 107… or more…
But sadly no, she’s gone and with her a generation of men and women who’ll be remembered by some, recorded by others but really only known by a few. I count it such a privilege to be one of the few.
There aren’t enough words to chronicle her life, in many respects it was unremarkable, born in 1908, married in 1936 after a very long engagement (slowed down by the war and her prospective husband’s desire not to pressure her family’s finances), bearing 3 children and raising them with all the advantages of comfortable middle class, moderated by a staunch Methodist faith tradition, Mabel Henrietta (Finlay) Teal was remembered, by all those who spoke about her in the funeral service, as a woman who was deeply interested in others far more than her own situation, devoted to her family and completely engaged by cultivation of orchids for which she won many awards in the Auckland area. She was quick to laugh, quick to serve and quick to love and if I think too hard about the gap she’s left in our family, the changes wrought by no longer dropping by her little home whenever I’m in Auckland, a tear catches in my throat and I shift my thoughts back to the happy place, the one where she’s with Grandpa, catching him up with stories of us. Stories where we’re doing things with our lives that in some cases defied her understanding (websites? computers? coding??). Stories of love. Just as we’ll tell stories about her long into our future.
I’m forever grateful for the time we had – grateful it was so long, grateful for the memories of holidays with her and Grandpa, grateful for the letters I’ve kept where her wit and wisdom shine through the spidery cursive writing. Grateful she was my Grandma. Grateful I knew her. Grateful she loved me and all the rest of us (3 children, 11 grandchildren, 19 greatgrandchildren (+ 2 on the way). Grateful.
So, godspeed Grandma – See you on the other side.