I went to a funeral yesterday. It was time to say farewell to my Nan. The fitting send off was a credit to my entire family…for organising, speaking, singing, writing, collecting photos and memories and for being there in person, in spirit or via Skype (the delight of technology). It was, therefore, a great nod to our matriarch who instilled such family values in us all. On the long drive home I played my cousins voices and words over in my head. I alternately cried and admired the beauty in the paddocks and hills and sunshine around me. And I thought.
Nan did not see what we saw in her. I was reminded of that yesterday. She would have used just…”just” a housewife, a mum. Not that she didn’t place importance on what she did but I don’t think she realised the value. So what is valuable in a person’s life? What gives us all purpose? Making a difference. In whatever way you can or want to or feel passionate about or have skills. I see the value in the difference made to another person rather than the method. Alexander Fleming discovered penicillin undoubtedly making an enormous difference to humanity. Nan took her newly migrated Greek neighbour to the doctor to help translate. On that day, for that lady, Nan made all the difference in the world.
The photo montage showed Nan matching funny faces with her beloved great grand daughter. She was of a different generation. A time when children with disabilities were placed in care. Nan never doubted Miss K’s place was at home with us. In the context of yesterdays memorial I thought about the perception of the place people with disabilities have in our world. I see purpose. So did Nan. Miss K brought much joy to her Great Nan as she does to so many. I don’t yet know if my girl will have a career but I am glad to be reminded that making a difference is not confined to a job. Nan gave a bed in her home and a meal to anyone in need. Miss K brings smiles and helps put life’s difficulties in context.
Intermingled with grief I ponder my own legacy. “She always made us smile.” “The best Nana ever.” “Funny Great Nan.” “She made an amazing roast even though she didn’t think she could cook.” “A great mum…my mum.” “She laughed so hard that she had a little accident” Well, maybe not that last one! Sounds like a fine gift that keeps on giving. Vale Nan.