Luke Smith’s Eulogy for His Grandmother

Luke's Speech

FIRSTLY, IT WAS AN HONOUR to have known Grandma, and a privilege I never will take for granted having her a part of my life.

One thing that stands out when I think about growing up with Grandma is the way she treated me and my sisters, not like children but as equals. I was never the easiest child to get along with but I can't ever remember Grandma being upset with me. This was because she had a way of relating to people that made them feel they were the most important person in the world. The softness of her voice. Her uplifting laugh. Her beautiful smile.

Grandma was a great intellectual mentor. She did this with no intention of doing so, just by involving me in the activities and passions which consumed her life. A good example is on my eighth birthday Grandma gave me a book that was a biography of Leonardo da Vinci. Not your average present for an eight-year-old. For about the next year I wanted to invent something. I would search the garden for sticks that I could use to build my great invention. The only problem was that everything had been invented already. As an eight-year-old I would marvel at da Vinci's pictures, tales and machines. As I get a little older, the great artists remind us of one man's potential to make anything possible.

As long ago as I can remember, Grandma would take us to the Art Gallery, Museum and Planetarium, where we would marvel at the man-made and natural wonders. Every Saturday she would take us to Monash to watch a play, such as Peter and the Wolf. The dixie tub at interval was always a highlight.

Art and painting was also a gift I received from Grandma. Much of my childhood was spent in the clutter of Grandma's sunroom painting. The thing I most loved to paint was birds. The excitement Grandma derived from watching birds was infectious. I made hundreds of paintings, mostly of birds, and everyone was perfect to Grandma.

An appreciation of nature was unavoidable, having known Grandma. As Sorrento we would sit on the balcony watching the birds at the bird bath. Grandma would know all their names, could imitate their calls and delighted in teaching this information. In the garden we walked amongst the slender melaleucas, peering into tiny nests where finches, honeyeaters and robins had laid their eggs. Grandma took great pride in sharing with me a beautiful green grannys bonnet orchid right at the end of the garden.

Grandma was a conservationist and champion of the environment. She would know the names of all the plants at Sorrento and which ones were weeds. I remember the walk from "Burntwood" to Diamond Bay -- usually a comfortable five minutes -- would take an hour, as we vigilantly pulled up weeds from the side of the track. By the end of summer you could barely see the track beneath layer upon layer of decaying weeds. She would eagerly point out the small pink orchids that we revealed -- a reward for removing the weeds.

Grandma was a great storyteller. Stories from her childhood brought a look of joy to her eyes and she would never tire of telling them. Old Lancashire rhymes about characters like Mickey Thump. The journey to Argentina where she had her eighth birthday on the ship. Being invited into the exclusive art club at school. Watching a young soldier/future husband swing a boiling billy around his head without spilling a drop.

These are a tiny sample of the things that I cherish and miss greatly. Grandma was such a great intellectual, emotional and spiritual example for me. I wish she could have been a part of my life forever. Her legacy shall forever live in my heart.

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