A few memories of Grandma – 22nd December 2010

Today my Grandma, Iris Smith, passed away at the great age of 96 years old, following a short illness.

My earliest memories of her are ironically also centred around Christmas.  When I was growing up, every Christmas tea would be spent at my Grandparent’s house.

Grandma and me at Christmas 1987

Each year the routine would be the same – we would have tea in the living room and then adjourn into the lounge to see indoor fireworks and the handing out of the ‘Christmas tree’ presents.  My favourite of these was a torch which had various coloured lenses attached to it.  They were happy times.

It’s difficult to try to collate so many different memories of someone together – particularly someone who has been something of a ‘figurehead’ in your life.  For me, Grandma has simply always been there and it doesn’t seem possible to imagine life without her being around.

She had a wonderful sense of humour and often had a wicked twinkle in her eye when regaling me with some tale of the past.

Grandma around 1920

For the last ten or so years I have had the ritual of putting out her wheelie-bin for her every Thursday evening.  On most occasions, this simple job would often take over an hour, once she got talking – mainly about the past – but she was never shy in making her views known about current events either!  It is simple things like this that I’ll miss about her.  We had some great times together just reminiscing about the past.

My Grandad passed away back in 2003 after they had been married for 65 years!  Since that time, Grandma lived alone and was always glad to see people when they came round to see her.

My Grandparents used to have a church youth group in their house, known simply as ‘Club’.  They had all kinds of activities including darts and table tennis as well as badminton in the garden.  I have many happy memories of time spent around there when I was growing up and it was nice to hear from someone this evening that their ‘template’ for youth work is still being used today.  Grandma would have been delighted.

She was incredibly active, didn’t use a stick and still drove her car until earlier on this year – it’s been a few years since I went in it with her though!  Only two or three years ago she went on the London Eye and also over to see the wartime cemetaries in France.

Grandma was a big one for the ‘Family’ and always seemed to remember people’s birthdays regardless of how obscure a relative they were.  She used to pack up large stocks of English chocolate to ship out to my cousins and their children in Canada.  Apparently English ‘candy’ is much better than the Canadian varieties!

She loved children and Rebekah and Holly used to enjoy going to see her as she would always chat to them.  Fortunately for Emily, she also loved babies!

Grandma with Rebekah

She didn’t mention her faith very often – but that was her way.  Occasionally we’d have a chat about some idea that we were thinking about and she would have her own thoughts on.  Last year our church had a stand at Maidenhead Carnival and we had a colouring competition for children inside a marquee – albeit with no sides.  Numbers of children coming in seemed to be disappointing and Grandma immediately spotted the problem – we should move the tables outside!  Sure enough, when we did that, the children came!

She was always a saleswoman and for many years ran a bookstall of Christian books at various events, including having a stall at Maidenhead market for many years!

A few years ago she went through a course of radiotherapy for cancer and stoically sailed through all of the many appointments and treatments that she had to undergo, with typical verve and aplomb.

Grandma at 94 years old

After being so active for so many years, it’s inevitably a shock when someone declines so quickly.  Grandma seemed to lose interest in life over the last few weeks and I think that in the end she more or less gave up.  It must have been hard for her.  At the age of 96, most of her friends of her generation had either already died, or were in ill-health and my Mum’s time, for so many years taken up with Grandma, was diverted away to look Dad who is also so unwell.

I was pleased to be able to take Mum over to see her this evening.  Although Grandma was unconscious and didn’t seem to be aware of the fact that we were there, it was nice to be able to say goodbye to her and to pray for her.  I’m glad that she didn’t suffer.

It hasn’t really sunk in yet the fact that she’s gone.  Inevitably these things take time, and I’m sure that there will be many tears that will be shed over the coming days and weeks.

Grandma had a wonderful, full life and her passing leaves the world a poorer place.

I’ll miss her more than I can yet begin to imagine.


This entry was posted by philhbray.

11 thoughts on “A few memories of Grandma – 22nd December 2010

  1. Thanks for writing this! Us grandchildren in Canada also have very fond memories of our Grandma and we’re going to miss her. I wish I had been able to come over and see her again before she died! I am at least very grateful that I spoke to her on the phone a few weeks ago. She was always a great one for a chat!

  2. Thank you, Phil, for posting these wonderful memories of our Grandma. As you said, it’s going to take time for the reality of Grandma being gone to sink in, especially for us Canadians (or “colonials”, as she liked to call us!!). I spent Christmas of 1988 in England with Grandma and Grandad and all of you and I will be remembering it fondly this week – that’s probably why your first picture looked so familiar!
    We’ll be praying for the Lord’s peace and comfort for all of you over the next days and weeks.

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