from Pantperthog to Knockando

Monday, September 25, 2006

Funeral for a friend

In remembrance Marion Pearce 1921-2006

I shared a birthday with 'Granny P' as she came to be known in our family. True she was already 55 when I appeared on the scene, but we still shared a birthday. This year on 2 April, we jointly celebrated the milestone of 30(me) and 85(her).

I liked sharing a birthday with her - it gave us a link that no one else had. It's amazing really how quickly I became a second grandson to her, included in the list "Abby, Cathy and Jon". (Her other grandson, Rhys, was a source of great pride to her too.)

The first time I met Granny P, she was in hospital for some reason. Cathy announced one Friday afternoon towards the end of term that, because one of our lectures was cancelled, she was going over to Gloucester on the train, and would I like to come. I said 'yes', even though I was having a particularly scruffy day and was quite stubbly - not the best look to meet your girlfriend's family. I remember Granny, a bit groggy in bed, but sharp enough to say "and this must be Jon!" It's hard to believe that was 12 years ago now.

Today, at the thanksgiving service I read Psalm 100 - eight years, less one day, since Granny had read it at our wedding. It was truly an occasion of giving thanks, including tributes from longstanding friends (70 years in one case!), and hymns selected from the two lists Gran had left behind.

We had the burial before the service, in a shady spot in St Katharine's churchyard in Matson. I was a pallbearer, but being a bit short and in the middle, I don't think I really carried my fair share of the weight until we lowered the casket into the ground. Kevin, the minister of Matson Baptist where Granny had worshipped since becoming a founder member of the church, spoke about the perishable seed which goes into the ground, to be raised imperishable.

Some of my favourite Granny P stories
Gran was notoriously impatient in restaurants - often complaining that we hadn't had any food yet before we'd even ordered.

She spent a number of Christmases (with Ab and Cath too) up in Shrewsbury where she tag-teamed up with my Grandma as partners in crime. One Christmas, when me and Dave were exiled to the dining room downstairs to sleep due to a shortage of beds, the two Grans decided that 7AM would be a good time to start hoovering the living room. They then opened the dining room door and announced loudly (they're both a bit deaf) "Oh, there's people sleeping in here." At which point Dave said "There's people TRYING to sleep in here!"

Granny was a compulsive tidy-er. So if you left her unattended when she visited, there was every chance she'd end up rooting through your cupboards hiding stuff to make it look neater.

Once (at Christmas) Dave went to pick up the two Grans from the cinema, only to find Grandma had somehow lost Granny P, who had exited the ladies and proceeded to walk in and out of every auditorium hunting for the exit! Poor old Dave had to go and ask a member of staff and admit that "I've lost a Granny" before they eventually found her.

Despite Abby's protestations, Granny would insist on Windolene-ing her windscreen if it was dirty, resulting in a smeary mess. Once, after Abby had firmly told her not to do it, we found her sneaking out to surreptitiously give it a squirt of Windolene. After that Abby always made sure the car was tidy before arriving at Gran's, although that still meant Granny would try to pick up all the rubbish INSIDE her car!

A Granny P quote:
Scene: we've just got back from a meal out, or sat down in the lounge after tea, or whatever: "So, when are you leaving?"

Her testimony
The key thing, in all seriousness, that stood out from the many tributes at the service today was Granny's Christian witness. I remember she always used to pray for us as we left (which was especially needed if Abby was driving us home!). She'd always finish with one of her favourite Bible passages - from Romans: "for we know that all things work together for good, for those that love God."

It's tempting to be sentimental when someone you love dies, but that phrase, which I will ever associate with her, was her testimony. She had known difficult times, family tragedies, and towards the end struggled with both her physical health and her deteriorating mental state, but I know she clung to that promise: that all things would work together for good. Eventually.

She was a saint and she stands with the rest of the saints now.

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At 26/9/06 16:35, Blogger Orient Bird said...

And let's not forget the time that Cath and I went up to stay with her in Gloucester and Granny had to cut me out of my shorts because the zip had broken. she was a wonderful lady and I too, will never forget her. I have to say too, that when I went to visit her, she never asked me when I was leaving... but then, if she'd done that, she wouldn't have been able to make me sing all her favourite hymns for her I suppose....


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