December 2018 - Dwelling Spaces

Friday, 7 December 2018

How do you sum up a life?

Yesterday my Grandma would have been 98.  But she died before she got there, and today we held her funeral.  As I was driving home the day after she died, my mind full of rich and abiding memories of someone I dearly loved and who dearly loved me, I kept thinking 'How do you sum up a life?'. And so I wrote a poem, and that is my tribute to her today.  Love you Grandma.

How do you sum up a life?
When the end was close, and words became noise
It was in the look of love
Resting with my face a breath from yours
Hands held tight
Eyes locked tighter still in a soul’s embrace
As I stroked your hair, I thought of your mother
Ninety-seven - nearly ninety-eight - years ago
Stroking the head of her precious first born
No words then to be spoken
Just a look of love to be shared.

How do you sum up a life?
You bookend it with looks of love.

How do you sum up a life?
You weave it through with a golden thread
Of love and care and kindness
And so many people
Those nursed, those gathered up and taken in, those family, those friends,
              those whose presence reappeared in a glance at that ornament or that cup
Things were precious because of the people that shared them.

How do you sum up a life?
With the humble exceeding of expectations 
     "Girls don't need an education to be a maid"
     But in service you grew character 
     With war came opportunity 
     With marriage came partnership
And you rose with dignity, amazed that you could eat from a table with white cloth and flowers,
      that you could travel the world
And so, so proud of your son, your granddaughters, your great-grandchildren,
      forgetting that you were the one that created us...

How do you sum up a life?
With times of loss
Different futures snatched away
Yet somewhere deep drawing from a well of courage
To reorient life again and again.

How do you sum up a life?
With simple joy and contentment
The smell of a rose, a handkerchief, a cream cake, a 'special' breakfast
Pleasure in the stories of those you love
Feeding those you love on plates that were never quite big enough
The sunshine on trees, the children playing, the little treats
A swing round the dance floor, secret delight in the words that weren't quite right
"Shall we play a VD now....?"

How do you sum up a life?
"A special lady" seems not enough
So I'll leave you with that look of love.