Verse 19, Chapter 27 in the Book of Proverbs says
“As water reflects the face so one’s life reflects the heart.”
While we all have memories of how Granny lived her life that show what her heart was like, I thought I would share just a few of our many memories of her. To most of you she was Nancy, a name which is said to mean ‘grace’ and gracious she was, but to Sara, David, Seymour and me she was always ‘Granny’.
Granny, through our childhood eyes, was always old, but she never aged; she never dated, never changed; she was always consistent, always the same. Although to me, Granny was always old, I never actually knew how old she was, because whenever I asked I was told that she was the same age as the Queen but I never knew how old the Queen was!
In fact, it was very easy to associate Granny with the Queen. In all the photos taken before we knew her, she projected the same image of elegance and grace as the Queen. And even in her last days, Mama said Granny still looked beautiful. Granny also represented all that was British to me, when we visited from Zimbabwe. She introduced me to the luxury of exciting cereals such as ‘Weetabix’ with milk delivered by a milkman. With her, I first experienced stinging nettles and she showed me how to treat a sting with a dock leaf. She introduced me to ducks who came up the lawn from the river to be fed stale bread. In her own garden she taught me what violets looked like and gave us a taste of her home grown raspberries and wine berries. She was also the provider of food rather like that described in Ratty’s picnic in “The Wind in The Willows” for silly hat summer picnics in the unexpectedly late light summer evenings.
My earliest memory of her is standing in the kitchen at Lane End and her explaining to Sara and me that she was both mine and Sara’s Granny. I also remember on that occasion, her explaining to us why she had a jar of silver milk bottle tops on a shelf. She said she was saving them to help people who were blind. Granny was always doing something for charity. She even got me rattling tins with her once, and to this day, I associate “Marie Curie” with her. But this was one of the ways she lived her life to reflect her heart. It came very naturally to her to be involved with things that showed care to others, whether “Meals on Wheels” or visiting people. She was my inspiration, when I was very small, for saying I wanted to be a nurse.
Sara remembers Granny’s kindness during the seven years she and Sean lived in London and is grateful Lane End was only a short train trip away. Sara said “I am especially thankful because I didn’t get to know Granny when growing up, but had the opportunity during our time in England. We had many wonderful weekend trips to Lane End where there was always a lovingly home cooked meal awaiting us, and a roaring fire in winter or a refreshing gin and tonic, in the garden, in the summer. It was an extra special time when Granny helped me choose my wedding dress and wonderful to have her so close by.”
David, too, has fond memories of the times he spent with Granny especially in his late teens. He says “She was an amazing lady and such a special Granny to all of us. She was always there for me.”
And as I grew older, I learnt another dimension to Granny’s heart. About five years ago, I took the great-grand children to stay with Granny and Grandpa and that night, when I put the children to bed, Granny came, sat on the bed and prayed with them, thanking God we were all together. And I think this paints a perfect picture of Granny’s heart. I came to learn that Granny had a very honest and quiet faith. It was the bedrock of who she was and how she lived her life. She would enter into very candid discussion with me and I found she would talk quite honestly about not always getting everything right in life but that her main motivation for living as she did was to please God. She spoke too of how sincerely and regularly she prayed for all of the family. But on that particular night she thanked God we were all together. And this was very important to her. She really delighted in us being together.
Now, when I think back over the memories I have of Granny, I realise how many come from times of big gatherings at Lane End, where Granny and Grandpa had brought lots of fascinating people together and there was always wonderful food. Her ability to cater and provide hospitality was remarkable.
Her gift for hospitality, her caring nature, her kindness, her honesty, her humility and her faith give me reason to believe that this passage of scripture expresses the edict by which she did her best to live. The way she lived her life reflected that this was at the heart of who she was:
Ephesians 4:20-5:2 (read from the New International Version)
You, however, did not come to know Christ that way. Surely you heard of him and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbour, for we are all members of one body. “In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold. He who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with his own hands, that he may have something to share with those in need. Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.
Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.
Seymour’s Poem that was put in an album of photos of Granny, on display after the service.
Your life flashed
Before my eyes
Each memory parading
Up into the clouds
Where you’d gone
I opened a window to
let them out into a
Bright June evening sky
And as each passed
I watched exhaling
Out with my breath went
Bread for ducks and
Leads for dogs and
Docks for nettle-stings and a
Scattering of ornaments I’d never
Dared to touch
Through me went
Your kind eyes
Wide with a grandmother’s pride and
Narrowed to a pointed question and
Tilted with your head to hear better and
Closed in prayer and
Wet with whooping laughter that
Took over your whole body
All of these marched on and
I’d begun to wonder who
Had been sent to
Fetch you when
He stood before me with
His tattered grey parchment ears and
Monumental tusks yellowed
With Africa’s dust and
Feet like pillars and
Benevolent eyes that
Knew you better than anyone and
My breathing out was done for
I knew there was none better to
Guide you home
Seymour Jacklin – June 2012