"I love you, Lord, you are my strength. The Lord is my rock, my fortress, and my saviour; my God is my rock, in whom I find protection. He is my shield, the power that saves me, and my place of safety." ~ Psalm 18:1-2
One of my Nan's favourite scriptures which was featured on the front page of the order of service booklet at her memorial service.
Last month I kicked CFS and social anxiety's ass when I spoke at Sweet Nan's memorial service. That's right, I got up in front of family, acquaintances, and people I've never met before and delivered a three page tribute speech, speaking into a microphone. And I somehow managed to not cry while reading it. So many people assured me that I didn't look nervous, but boy did I feel it! I wasn't even sure if I was reading what I had written down correctly. For all I knew it could have made no sense at all- I was too busy freaking out!
But I did it. And going by the countless compliments I received I must have done a good job. I'm extremely proud of myself and I'm sure Nan would be too.
It was a beautiful service. The pastor of the church we attended with Nan was kind enough to conduct the service and did a wonderful job. Some of the tribute speeches were giggle worthy. We ended the service singing Happy Day by Tim Hughes. It was Nan's favourite song.
The bite sized sweets served after the service were delicious. I'm sure Nan would have approved- she always made sure she had some nice desserts to serve.
It was a happy celebration, exactly what Sweet Nan wanted.
This was my tribute speech:
If my Nan were here today, she would say to me "Oh that's a pretty dress, I haven't seen that, now where did you buy that one?" She was always asking me that question, and nine times out of ten, I'd reply with "I can't remember, I've had this for years". Yes, I have that many clothes that I can wear something and it won't be seen again for a year or two - so Nan would usually assume that I was wearing something new.
Whenever I visited she would compliment me on the colour of my outfit, feel the fabric and admire the lovely lace and pretty ruffles. In recent years, whenever she asked me where I bought my pretty top from, she would throw her hands up, shrug her shoulders and say "Let me guess - had it for years".
Even when I saw her in hospital a month ago, she told me how pretty the top and cardigan I was wearing were and she wanted to know where I bought them from. As usual, I told her "Oh these aren't new, I've had these for years too." This time she just rolled her eyes and shook her head. I'll never forget that look she gave me.
Today though, I'd tell her that my dress is new. She would probably say "Oh it's lovely isn't it! That colour looks nice on you".
I bought this dress to wear especially for her today, because today is a celebration, and what's a celebration without a new party dress?
To me every weekend seemed like a celebration of sorts with her around. Every single Saturday, my family and I would burst through her back door and sit down to enjoy the scrumptious lunch she had prepared for us. It had been our family tradition ever since I was little, and she liked to make sure we were well fed. There was always plenty of food on the table. Anyone would think that we hadn't eaten much in a month, it was like a Christmas feast every weekend without fail. We would always be taking home left overs. And during the week, I would have to work really hard to keep the kilos off.
Nan always made Saturday's special. During my final years in high school, her lunches were what I looked forward to most every week. They became a real treat, especially during exam time. We would sit in the back room, stuff our faces and chat until mid afternoon. I always sat next to Nan and she would have her usual banana sandwich along with a cup of tea. I very rarely saw her eat anything that she had made for us.
Things that she enjoyed cooking regularly were fish pie, chicken broccoli, lasagna, and meat pie. She usually put a couple of those dishes on the table along with a salad, a plate of party pies and sausage rolls, and a pot of rice. If we were lucky there were even hot dogs, too.
And then there were the tempting desserts, that no matter how hard you tried, you just couldn't resist. She would usually bake a chocolate cake and cover the icing with flake chocolate. Sometimes she would make a chocolate ripple cake. The cakes would sit on the kitchen bench next to a huge plate filled with biscuits, vanilla slices and tarts that she had bought from the bakery. Some weeks she even made chocolate balls that were flat instead of round. She did this because one time she made them, and for some reason, she didn't roll them into a proper ball and they turned out flat- my sister found this quite amusing, so she continued to make them flat, just for her. We called them flat balls.
Nan was always warning us that her cake was very dry and the rice very gluggy, even though it was perfect every time. Even after all of that food, she would still offer us icecreams from her freezer - our pick of a magnam or gaytime.
Whenever I drove up to visit her during the week she was offering me chocolate biscuits and she always made sure I knew that there was apple juice in the fridge for me. I rarely said no to the food, not because I had no self control but because for some reason, I always felt guilty saying no. She loved and enjoyed spoiling us. Even when she was in hospital starting her chemo treatment she was loading me up with the biscuits someone had brought her for me to take home.
If one of us had a birthday she would make sure that she prepared a special meal that we liked. One year she cooked me a roast for lunch - it was her speciality. Everyone knows that she cooked the most amazing kick ass roast with the most beautiful vegetables and mashed potato I have ever tasted. The mashed potato was particularly divine, especially considering that I don't like potatoes all that much. It was by far the best birthday meal I have had and ever will have. I'll always remember the taste.
My Nan would have to have been one of the most cooler-than-cool-trendy, in-tune-with-the-times,
elderly person on the planet. She enjoyed watching the same television dramas as I did - Downton Abbey and Revenge. Whenever I visited, she would ask me if I'd seen that weeks episode and we would talk about the shocking scandals, and how clever and talented the actors and writers are to draw us in and have us so engaged every week.
She was also the most sweetest soul. A week before she went to be with God, barely awake, she wanted me to know how much she loved the last cake I had baked for her. Our last conversation was about cake.
She was always asking about everyone even when she was struggling the most. A few years ago straight after she had surgery, my Mum came home and told me that she was asking about how my first day at university went.
When I was young and had to have surgery, she would send my Mum home with a gift bag filled with goodies and a few of my favourite things. As a fruit lover, I've never forgotten the excitement of finding a mango or two in amongst the treats.
Nan has given me so many memories that I'll cherish. She brought such joy into my life. Joy that I'll carry with me the rest of my life.
As a child, I remember the sleepovers and fun that we had. I always looked forward to sleeping over, especially in the middle of winter. She would turn on the spare bed's electric blanket a couple of hours before she tucked me into bed so that it was really warm. She would turn it off before saying goodnight and switching off the light. The warmth of an electric blanket back then was a real luxury for me as I wasn't allowed to have one as I wasn't old enough nor responsible enough. In the morning, Nan would have those fun sized cocoa pops, fruit loops and nutra-grain cereal boxes ready for us to consume- a bowl full of sugar that Mum normally wouldn't allow.
In my early teenage years I admired my Nan's beautiful cursive handwriting. I wanted to write just like her, and I begged her to teach me. One morning after I slept over, she gave me a demonstration, handed me a whole heap of paper and told me it would take lots and lots of practise. Throughout my high school years I practised and by the time I reached year 10 it felt more natural for me to write in cursive. My friends and teachers were always telling me how beautiful my handwriting was- so thanks Nan!
In more recent years she taught me how to knit. When I began, she raided her knitting stash and sent me home with a bag full of needles and practise yarn. Sometimes I'd sit and knit next to her after lunch on a Saturday in case I made a mistake. Whether I somehow added an extra 5 stitches, or dropped 10, she always knew how to fix the mess I had made.
What I loved and admired most about my Nan was her faith. It was always a comfort to know that I had her praying for me.
Her trust in God and her love for Him, especially throughout her cancer treatment this year was something that has helped me in my own struggles and walk with God. I wrote a poem earlier this year about finding faith in spite of the unrelenting weariness I was facing when all I felt like doing was giving up and letting my faith go.
I had planned to by a frame from a craft store, decorate it and type up the poem on pretty scrapbooking paper to give her as a Christmas gift had she still been here. I'm sure she would have loved it. It's called I Have Faith For This.
I Have Faith For This
Written by Emily Ruth © ChronicallyCreative.net
Without victory in the valley
Blinded by a dark alley
I declare- I have faith for this.
In the depths of great despair
When it seems as none do care
At the bottom I know
You, oh Lord are there.
And in times of drought
When my mind filled with doubt
I will shout- I have faith for this.
In the mid-day scorching sun
Will I pick up my shield and run
In grace divine, sovereignty sublime
Is where I'll find- I have faith for this.
Drowning in an ocean
To you oh Lord I give my devotion
Be still my shaking soul
Let faith bind the broken hole.
When the mountain cannot be moved
And in attempt at conquer
I am left bleeding and bruised
When the ground beneath is shaking
It is faith which I pursue.
In trepidation, my spirit weak, heart breaking
In the crackling of quaking thunder
In whatever may encumber
Through trembling lips
I'll speak- I have faith for this.
Upon unsteadiness of rugged terrain
Faith be the one thing that remains
Caught in raging rapids where rescue
Seems beyond belief
I'll scream- I have faith for this.
When buried under rubble
Battling strain and struggle
My mind a chaotic muddle
I'll repeat- I have faith for this.
During a mighty downpour
When I feel I can go no more
I will kneel in reverent bliss
Arms outstretched, hands raised
Hope I uplift- I have faith for this.
Faith that better days are coming
Faith that I'll soon be soaring
Faith that the dawn overcome darkness
Faith that there is an end to this hardness.
Faith in the rising of the sun
Faith that this battle will be won
Faith that God's will be done
Faith that His promises will prevail
Faith in dreams setting sail.
No matter how hard it gets
Nor how wide my problems stretch
I continue to believe for
What I wish to receive
I have faith for this