The house is still, silent apart from the gentle ticking of the kitchen clock. I sit and realise this is the first moment of quiet I have felt in months. The baby and toddler are asleep, the builder has finally finished and life for a short while seems calm. So much has happened in the last few months and it is good to finally have a time to reflect on life changing events.
|Hilda Smith 1919 - 2013|
Our baby was born on Palm Sunday and on the Wednesday, very early in the morning my Grandma passed away. She was ninety four and had lived a good life but it was still sad to hear the news so close to the birth of a grandchild she would never meet. Birth and death remind us of the rhythms of life; the only certainty in this crazy world we inhabit. What we do with the life we have been given is our choice, to use our time wisely or waste it aimlessly.
|Old & Young - meeting Ruby for the first time|
My Grandma was born just after the end of the first world war and lived through huge world turmoil and discovery , it is incredible to think of all the change she has known. I wonder what changes our new baby will see in the world if she lives as long?
|The baby she will never meet (although she saw this photo).|
Last week we held a celebration thanksgiving for the life of Hilda Smith, know to me as Grandma. I had the privilege of speaking at the service and am so glad I had the chance to honour the life of someone who certainly spent her life making a difference. It was very special to be able to share my memories and listen to the memories of others at her thanksgiving service which was a very positive celebration of all she had achieved in her life.
"....for really I think that the poorest he that is in England hath a life to live, as the greatest he...."
Thomas Rainsborough (1647)
This was the quote she had above her desk when she was a social worker in Southwark, London. It epitomises her approach to life. She was a real believer in the value of education, probably because she had left school at a young age needing to help support her family, although returned to study later on in life. At the thanksgiving service I learnt so much about her and all the ways she had fought politically, a true feminist before it was fashionable, she was a strong believer in enabling women to achieve. She was responsible for setting up the first creche at the Labour party conference to make it easier for women to attend. A strong woman, when faced with a crisis, such as her husband having a stroke, she used it as an opportunity to set up a new stroke club so others could benefit.
As a child I used to love listening to stories about family members I would never meet. Her roots in the working class north were strong and even though she had moved south many years previously, she remained a Lancashire lass for life. After I had my own children I realised the enormity of some of the situations she had faced in life. Suffering from TB, she spent a long time away from her twin boys recovering: To be apart from your children from the age of eighteen months to five years must have been incredibly hard. She had only been given a few years to live after treatment, living to ninety four is a true reflection of her strength in not letting an illness defeat her.
We all laughed at the memory of the shoes she wore to my parents Ruby wedding anniversary; Grandma took great delight in telling us they were the same pair she wore to their wedding forty years previously!
As we celebrated and gave thanks for a life well lived I reflected on the legacy that she has left me. She always encouraged me to achieve and not settle.
Her legacy to me is this:
Do not be afraid to be the one making a change.
What will your legacy be?