A while back I was looking through some old family photographs when I found one of my old Grannie Henton. She was a great character, a “wise old owl” as someone once described her. She was loved and revered by all the family.
She was born in 1889 and died in 1962. A sad loss that affected all the family. Members of our extended family in France and even from Australia came over especially for the funeral. It was on of the biggest funeral and wakes I have ever seen. Gran had no time for organised religion like Christianity, she was a Quaker (a member of the Religious Society of Friends, who reject sacraments, ritual, and formal ministry).
She used to say and do the strangest things at times. Whenever she visited me, or any of the family homes, before entering she would draw an imaginary line across the threshold with her cane and say,
“With this cane I draw the bound,
all malice and bane I thus confound”.
Her walking cane always had a fresh flowers or bunch of herbs tied to it. One of her favourite sayings was:
“When I die, please do not cry,
For I will leave you riches,
A knife, a fork, a cabbage stalk
And a pair of mouldy breeches”
Another one was:
(please excuse the Anglo-Saxon word!)
“Farting is such merrie fun,
It giveth great delight,
It cheers thee in the daytime,
And keeps thee warm at night”
“Where ‘ere thee be, let the wind go free,
For t’was the wind that killeth me”. Probably was!
I can’t remember many more and I wish now that I had written them down at the time.
When we visited the farmhouse for a meal she would always recite this “grace” before we ate:
“We wish that all people everywhere will have food to eat, water to drink and friends to meet. May the spirit of God be at this table and in the hearts of all those we know and love”.
We all missed her when she died because she was the the matriarch, and kept all the family together and sorted out any differences that cropped up, as they do in a large family group from time to time. Now 53 years on what was a united family unit has gone, every one has drifted away because of silly arguments and other unpleasant situations. I have lost contact with cousins and their siblings, and even my own sister has become a stranger now.
My Gran lies in Twycross Church graveyard next to Grandad, three of my aunts, two uncles and a cousin who died young. Every year at this time I buy eight red roses and place one on each grave. All the graves are in a row under a big tree, and they don’t have any headstones or memorial.
Perhaps it’s a good thing that Gran can’t see what has happened to the family she was so proud of once.