My grandmother was just about the nicest person you could meet. She never made 5 feet high but had bright sparkling blue eyes and not a critical bone in her body. She met anger with a smile and never spoke with envy or regret. Her Scottish accent brought melody to her words when she spoke.
On the last Wednesday of every month Grandma and her friends met at our house for tea after the guild meeting at the local Presbyterian Church. The ladies had their tea and scones on the good china and spoke in soft voices before they were, off to catch the bus home before dark. I am not quite sure what the church guild did or what their meetings accomplished but for me it meant there would be leftover scones.
Always in attendance were Grandmas two best friends, Mrs Howard and Mrs. Dalrymple. Mrs. Dube, her other dear friend wrote her religiously ever week from her home in Fort William. Mrs Dube’s letters arrived every Tuesday morning without fail. Grandma never mentioned the news from Mrs. Dube or any anecdote she was thinking to pass along in her weekly return post.
What I do know, is that Grandma only and always referred to these three women, her dearest friends, with their titles, and surnames; never in the familiar or with nicknames. It was always Mrs. Dube, Mrs. Howard and Mrs. Dalrymple. I realized they only referred to her as Mrs. Jackson, when I happened upon a written notation in Mrs. Howard’s recipe book which said Mrs. Jackson’s scones.
My Grandma was the closest friend to the widowed, childless Mrs. Howard and Grandma inherited her few personal possessions and recipe books. But she still referred to her as Mrs. Jackson.
When these women were together having their tea, I am sure Grandma didn’t say, Mrs. Howard may I pass you some sugar. In that situation it was the time to call her by her name, Helen. But the formality remained in every written or third person circumstance.
My grandmother moved in with us when I was five and Grandpa had passed away. Day to day care of me fell to Grandma as my single parent mother was usually at University or work. As the youngest of three, I was quite spoiled by Grandma. Yet in all the time we spent together over the next 16 years, I can’t remember her once saying that she loved me. But I knew I was loved. When she held my hand on our bus trip to Stanley Park, I knew I was loved. When she let me sit on her bed at night to listen to the radio with her, I knew I was loved.
Grandma loved her friends, she loved her daughter and she adored her grandchildren. But spoken words of affection were not her thing.. She demonstrated her feelings by actions… Perhaps that wasn’t such a bad way to live. But I have to admit I sure do like the sound of those words… “I love you” and I am sure Grandma would have liked to
to hear them too.