Monday, 13 May 2013

A legacy

The house is still, silent apart from the gentle ticking of the kitchen clock.  I sit and realise this is the first moment of quiet I have felt in months.   The baby and toddler are  asleep, the builder  has  finally finished  and life for a short while seems calm.  So much has happened in the last few months and it is good to finally have a time to reflect  on life changing events.

Hilda Smith 1919 - 2013

Our baby was born on Palm Sunday and on the Wednesday, very early in the morning my Grandma passed away. She was ninety four and had lived a good life but it was  still sad to hear the news so close to the birth of a grandchild she would never meet. Birth and death remind us of the rhythms of life;  the only certainty  in this crazy world we inhabit.   What we do with the life we have been given is our choice, to use our time wisely or waste it aimlessly.

Old & Young - meeting Ruby  for the first time

My Grandma was born just   after the end of the first world war and  lived through huge world turmoil and discovery , it is incredible to think of all the change she has known.  I wonder what changes our new baby will see in the world if she lives as long? 

The baby she will never meet (although she saw this photo).

Last week we held a celebration thanksgiving for the life of Hilda Smith, know to me as Grandma.  I had the privilege of speaking at the service and am so glad I had the chance to honour the life of someone who certainly spent her life making a difference. It was very special to be able to share my memories and listen to the  memories of others at her thanksgiving service which was a very positive celebration of all she had achieved in her life. 

"....for really I think that the poorest he that is in England hath a life to live, as the greatest he...."

Thomas Rainsborough (1647)

This was the quote she had above her desk when she was a social worker in Southwark, London.  It epitomises her approach to life. She was a real believer in the value of education, probably because she had left school at a young age needing to help support her family, although returned to study later on in life. At the thanksgiving service  I learnt so much about her and all the ways she had fought politically, a true feminist before it was fashionable, she was a strong believer in enabling women to achieve.    She was  responsible for setting up the first creche at the Labour party conference to make it easier for women to attend.   A strong woman, when faced with a crisis, such as her husband having a stroke,  she used it as an opportunity to set up a  new stroke club so others could benefit.  

As a child  I used to love listening to stories about family members I would never meet.  Her roots in the working class north were strong and even though she had moved south  many years previously, she remained a Lancashire lass for life. After I had my own children I realised the enormity of some of the situations she had faced in life.  Suffering from TB, she spent a long time away from her twin boys recovering:  To be  apart from your children from the age of eighteen months to five years must have been incredibly hard. She had only been given a few years to live after treatment, living to ninety four is a true reflection of her strength  in not letting an illness defeat her.

We all laughed at the memory of the shoes she wore to my parents Ruby wedding anniversary;  Grandma took great delight in telling us they were the same pair she wore to their wedding forty years previously!

As we celebrated and gave thanks for a life well lived I reflected on the legacy that she has left me.  She always encouraged me to achieve and  not settle.  

Her legacy to me is this:

Do not be afraid to be the one making a change.

What will your legacy be?


  1. Your Grandma looks like she had a life well lived - she certainly looks full of life and fun on the photographs.
    It is bitter sweet to have a baby so close to the death of a loved one. My Dad died when I was 15 weeks pregnant with KL. He knew he was to have another grandchild, but worried about me terribly as I'd had a miscarriage and an ectopic pregnancy. I will forever wonder if the worry contributed to his fatal heart attack at the age of 55. She looked so like him when she was born. We all thought it but nobody dare speak of it for quite some time - it was all too raw, too painful.
    I'm not sure what my legacy will be - I will think about it.

  2. Sorry to hear that you experienced the death of your Grandma so soon after the birth of your lovely daughter. My husband's Grandma died a few months ago and never got to meet Joel, which upset me. It is good to know that your Grandma has left you with a positive legacy though, and I'm sure she will live on in your memory like this for many years. xx

  3. She sounds as if she was a wonderful lady who left her mark on the world. I am sure she will know your new baby, I believe our loved ones never truly leave us.

  4. She sounds like a truely wonderful and inspirational lady. Thank you for sharing some of your memories in this post. Jx

  5. Congratulations on your daughter - she is beautiful. Your grandmother sounds like a special lady! Your post is a wonderful tribute to her.

  6. She sounds like an amazing woman and the pic of her with her 'Carry on' mug is just wonderful.

  7. What a lovely post and beautiful smile! Your Grandmother sounds like an amazing lady, love that she had those shoes all that time, fantastic! x

  8. lovely post. A great name for your blog and interesting too! Heather x

  9. Just popped over from the BritMums positively Inspirational Round-Up to say Hi. This is such a lovely post that bought a tear to my eye. your Grandma sounds like a wonderful woman. I, like you, were lucky enough to have an inspirational Grandma too and 16 years on I still miss her terribly x


Thank you for your lovely comments, they really do brighten my day!