Sunday, March 01, 2009

A Fond Farewell: Hettie Miller, RIP

Growing up is something I've mostly been trying to defer, but sometimes life just catches you by surprise and suddenly it can't be helped. Last week was one of those times, when we said goodbye to Ant's beloved Grandmother Hettie, aka Gaggy, who passed away peacefully at the ripe old age of 95. Having lost the last of my own grandparents some years ago, I'd adopted Ant's Gran (the last of his) as my own and had grown to love her as such over the last decade. The presence of grandparents always made childhood feel somehow more accessible, and the acceptance of adulthood now seems increasingly inevitable without them.

Final farewells are never easy, but unlike so many of the funerals I've been to - which mourned young lives cut short - Hettie's was a celebration of a full life well-lived. Of course it was still a sad occasion, but our tears were purely selfish; we felt sad because we'll miss her, not because her death was unfair. In this case, death came as a welcome relief from a life that had quite simply run out of steam. A mercifully short decline had given way to the kind of dignified departure to which most of us would aspire: surrounded by loved ones at home, ready and willing to go.

I'll always remember Gaggy as a gentle and inspiringly stoical lady, holding court at family occasions and never missing an opportunity to offer a wry opinion or crack a witty quip. Truly the grand matriarch, she was eternally proud and supportive of her three kids, eight grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren. I was touched to witness two of my contemporary in-laws, both expecting in June, comparing bumps at the wake afterwards. Soon there will be another two little lives added to Hettie's generous legacy: one generation making way for the next as the circle of life continues. Dauntingly, this also means that our parents are now the oldest generation and we have moved up one branch on the family tree ourselves. It certainly feels like the end of an era, but quite what the new one holds in store, I have yet to determine.

1 comment:

  1. Well put Rowan, and I certainly agree with your sentiments.
    It was a sad day, but the sorrow was far outweighed by love and pride.
    She has been relieved of having to be the one who has to say goodbye (the tragic downside to such longevity)and we accept that its our turn this time. Fair enough

    David

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