I never expected to be stood here today. Deep inside, I think I believed Granny would live forever. Of course, it would be unfair to wish immortality on another person, but Granny wasn’t just any other person: she was a force of life, an avatar of kindness, love and compassion. Cultures around the world have concepts of deities of life and as far as I can find, none take the form of an elderly lady, yet what greater celebration of the glory of life is there than the elderly matriarch with the family she loves?
I felt her love wrapped tight around me as she held me close when homesickness had induced a meltdown in me (I was 4 and staying away from home for the first time and Grandad had given me Ribena in the wrong cup and the world ended – and instead of being cross or impatient, she wrapped my in herself until I was ok again). I taste it every time I drink sweet, weak, milky tea – the cure she gave me for the shock of falling in an icy puddle. I watched it flowing from her, filling the room, the house, the whole world as she held my son for the first time, gazed at his little baby face. Her great-grandchild, and far from her first but still given that same awe-filled adoration as if he were her only child, a glowing protection he will carry with him always, even if he doesn’t know it.
She taught me a lot about how to move through a world that can feel unbearably hard at times. I remember her telling me you grow into the face you deserve: if you face the world with a smile, your face will reflect that. It is a hard lesson, but I think of it whenever I find myself struggling through a hard time. I remember that Granny, too, faced difficulties, faced incredibly painful things, and that she did so with love. I remind myself I want to earn my wrinkles, my kind face, and so I set myself to finding the small, shared joys. Whenever I think of her, I think of the smiles drawn deep into her face.
I read this at my Granny's funeral. I waited outside with a few other family as the hearse came round. Pink roses were strewn over the wicker coffin - beautiful and just right, yet how could my kind, vibrant Granny be in there? She was carried in, and we followed.
I don't have words for the ceremony, but hearing how full her life was, and seeing people nod to my words has helped start me healing.
My husband and son didn't come to the ceremony, but instead spent time with my cousins' wives and children. They joined us at the pub after, the kids running around at everyone's feet, laughing and playing. The older generations, we talked and ate and reminisced - and smiled at the children.
The flowers were brought over, with the thought everyone could take some home. Pink roses, to match her favourite plant in her garden. The children used them as wands, casting silly spells on us all. Full of joy and life, like Granny. She'd have loved that.