Chloë Smith’s Eulogy for Her Grandmother
EMORIES. They are what keeps a person living after their physical presence has departed. My memories of Grandma are lively, cheerful, and abundant. I remember the way she would play with me, entertain me, care for me, teach me.
I remember sitting together with Grandma, Amy, Luke and Laura in the swinging chair on the verandah at "Burntwood" as birds flew to and from the birdbath below. This is where my first crash course in Australian wildlife took place. Grandma's passion for Australian flora and fauna and her affinity with the bush were contagious. We could spend day after day watching birds come and go, ticking them off on the birdwatching checklist as they did. Every now and then one of the rarer species of bird would cause quite a bit of excitement as it flew down to drink or splash around in the bird bath.
I remember spending countless days at Grandma's house in East Malvern. I would spend the morning rummaging through the kids' room, playing games or playing in the garden picking plums and taking advantage of the massive dimensions of the fig tree as an ideal children's play spot. The afternoons were always marked with trips to Red Rooster and Dairy Bell.
I remember boiling almonds and shooting them out of their skins each year when it was time to make the Christmas cake. I remember writing letters to Santa and posting them up the up the chimney to him. I remember the trips to the Art Gallery and the Museum.
As her memory faded, Grandma remained active and kept herself happy by walking outside as she had done when she was healthy; she continued to do so until she fractured her hip last year. After the fracture she fought on and amazed us all with her persistence to recover. Not even a minor stroke was able to break her battling spirit -- it presented a challenge, but Grandma kept on fighting until the end. Over the last few years Grandma has lost her memory, mobility and speech but the essence of her personality remained with her into her final days.
The last time I saw Grandma awake was on this day last week. Frail and thin, there was still life and energy in her eyes. She was having a good day. From the moment I sat down she gazed into my eyes and stared fixedly at me for a few solid minutes then broke the stare with a chatty bubbly response. We talked for a while as Mum and I offered her a banana smoothie. Despite having some difficulty swallowing, she was battling on, able to maintain conversation between mouthfuls and contribute a few glowing smiles. I asked her how she was feeling. She replied. I asked her if she'd like some more smoothie. She replied. I told her I would be starting another year of uni again soon. She responded. I could not understand what Grandma was saying, but it didn't seem to matter. Grandma may have lost the ability to speak comprehensibly to us but she never stopped trying, and she never lost the ability to communicate.
Her good humour and gentle nature came across through body language and her soft touch when she would reach for a hand to hold, her love of nature and the outdoors was apparent when her gaze would wander fondly to the plant outside her window and she would utter a single word: "Beautiful". Her delight in the company of others was expressed with positive responses to human touch and, when she had the energy, through her bubbly chatting when visited. Grandma was a very special person. I am proud to be her granddaughter and will never forget the times we spent together -- the experiences that are captured within my memories -- memories that will live on forever.
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