Sunday, 22 November 2015

My Granny taught me

I feel I just have to tell you about a wonderful lady in my Granny Armstrong. She was the midwife who 'brought me into this world' and I had the joy of knowing her for 14 years. She died 40 years ago (22nd Nov 1975) but the legacy of what she taught me lingers with me right to this day. My memories of her are precious to me and I would like to share a few with you. (Please bear in mind that these are MY memories of her, not some things related to me. I do not remember her before she retired from work, so I won't be giving you a history lesson of her life).

She taught me by example. I sat by her side and watched her crochet....saw how she did it and when she gave me hook and wool I just practised what she showed me. I remember her crocheting a green lace table mat....and after that I wanted to crochet with thread. Oh yes, and...believe or not....she showed me how to darn those wool socks she had knit for Granda!

She taught me to work conscientiously. I went to help her with housework on Saturday mornings. I had to dust, polish her table, scrub the hall and mop her floors...and yes hoover the carpets with a big noisy hoover that I was scared of at first! I guess I was about 8 years old when I started doing this for her but she trusted me to do it to the best of my ability. At 'spring-cleaning time' it was a treat for me to be allowed into her old attic room that wasn't used any more, to mop and clean it.

She taught me that work well done deserves pay. When I finished my work she always gave me some money....50p at first and then I got a pay rise to £1. I remember one Saturday morning....I must have slept in for I arrived late for work. She told me to go home for she had the work done. Lesson to me....don't be late for work, you don't get paid for work undone!

She taught me that working together can be fun. We made jam together. We peeled spuds together using those old-fashioned knives. My brother Leslie, sister Laura and I worked together with her in her garden....mowing grass, weeding and hedge-clipping. We chatted and laughed while we worked and learned.
Granny and I (Back); Leslie and Laura (front)
She taught me to recycle. Every so often she wanted to clear out all the empty lemonade glass bottles. So, she got Leslie and I to gather them all together and take them to the shop in Benburb. We were delighted for in those days you got a couple of pence for each glass bottle returned to a shop....and of course we got to keep and share the money!

She taught me self-esteem. She believed in me and trusted me to do errands for her. I remember going with her to buy wallpaper one day and she asked me to choose. I was just a young girl but my opinion mattered and she was willing to display my choice on her walls for people to see!

She taught me to enjoy time with family and friends. It didn't matter what time of the day or night I would go to Granny's, she always made me feel welcome and loved. We ate together at her table that sloped with the floor. We listened to stories, laughed and enjoyed the craic together. She took me to visit Aunt Doreen and other relatives and family friends. I watched her interact with others and saw how her genuine concern for them made her a joy to be around. I remember being at a wedding with her. She was so busy chatting to the other guests at the table that she never noticed the waitress was shovelling peas unto her plate, expecting Granny to say when she'd enough. Yes, she was loving and kind and caring towards others but she didn't like to feel that she was a burden on other people.

She taught me to enjoy holidays....they didn't have to be expensive foreign holidays. She would go to stay at friends' homes and have them to stay with her. I even packed my suitcase and went a few hundred yards down the road for a holiday at her house! LOL However, there was one special holiday that I had with her. It was outside Millisle in Co.Down. The beach was literally across the road and we went various places too. But while I was there I gave my life to the Lord.

Aunt Alma, me and Granny on holiday outside Millisle
She taught me about giving. She never forgot Christmas and birthdays. I still have my first watch which she gave me. She genuinely seemed to love to give. She used to do some of her grocery shopping in Benburb and on her way down home she would stop by our house with some sweets. I remember her spinning the wheels as she took off (and it wasn't with speed or anger lol). Then, there was the glass jar she collected her pennies in. When it was full she gave them away to someone. She was selfless in her giving....doing it quietly and never for glory.

She taught me that actions have consequences but there's forgiveness when we do wrong. I remember once getting my brother to mess up or do something to some books on her bookcase. She wasn't amused so we were sent packing off home...and we knew not to return in a hurry! But a few days later, maybe a week, we were allowed back and all was forgiven. Her and I sat at the table and strung beads together to make necklaces. Our misdemeanors were not remembered against us,

She taught me to pray. I'd been told how she prayed a little prayer before each baby she delivered. But she showed me that it was important to pray for the little things in life too. I remember her praying in the car before leaving home and asking God for a safe journey....and she was only going 3 miles down the road to Moy! Yes her faith in God was real.

She taught me to take time alone with God. There was a little bedroom off her living room and she used to go in there to be alone to read. She loved to read People's Friend and other women's magazines and medical journals of her day....but she went in there to be alone to read her Bible. I still have her Bible and I do know that one of her favourite Bible verses was Job 19v25:
"For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God: Whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another."

She taught me to be resilient. I saw her cry. She was a soft-hearted woman. When people upset her and drove her to tears, or perhaps she just needed some time alone to tearfully reflect and reminisce on life's hurts....she went to that little room. I realize now that rather than cry on someone's shoulder, she went in there to lay her heartache at the feet of her Good Shepherd. Then, later when I'd see her again she would have bounced back, ready to face the world with a loving smile! Life had dealt her some deep wounds....her first husband murdered by the IRA, her son Norman drowned in Australia. But she found her solace in the Lord and valued her family and friends around her. I don't know but perhaps this all contributed to making her the strong, respected lady that she was.

In conclusion, let me tell you about the last time I saw her alive. I'd been down at her house to do my usual piano practice. Before I left she asked me to sweep the floor which I did. I wasn't for staying long for I was going shopping or somewhere that evening. But as I stepped into the scullery a little voice inside me said 'You'll never see your granny alive again'. I brushed it aside and went on outside into the dark and home. Later that evening she took ill, was taken into hospital and then passed on to be with her Redeemer. That little voice was right....I didn't see her alive again. I visited her grave on one or two anniversaries of her death before the reality really dawned on me....she's not in the grave, she's gone to her eternal home! Praise God I'll meet her one day again because I too know her Redeemer as my Saviour.