Monday, October 09, 2006

Eulogy for my Grandmother

This Eulogy was written by my father and read by him at Gran's funeral in March 2003. I've added a few comments in brackets.

Margaret Kirkwood Lambert was born on 18th November 1903. The youngest of five children of Rev John Chisholm Lambert and his wife Kate. Due to illness her Father had been forced to give up the ministry and by the time she was born the family had moved to Fenwick to live near her Mother’s brother, Jack, who was minister there.

As the youngest, she may have been spoilt by the others. As a child when I was unwell, my Mother would tell me of the games her two elder brothers, George and Willie, would play with her to keep her entertained when she was ill. She was very fond of her brothers so that it was a very painful time for her when they were killed in the 1st World War. Her Father also died at that time reducing the family to her Mother and two sisters, Katie and Elsie. They were a strong Christian family, heavily involved in church affairs, getting and giving support through the war years. I think my grandfather must have been a very remarkable man and a considerable influence on my Mother and the rest of the family for the way they survived such a difficult period. Mother’s greatest tribute to him was to have me named after him. Initially this was a nuisance to me – as a child I had great difficulty in spelling Chisholm correctly. Now I consider it an honour.

Once Mother had finished schooling she went to the College of Domestic Science in Glasgow. In those days ladies were trained to be housewives and mothers. Mother was an excellent cook and baker, though whether she learned the skill in College or at home where there were other excellent cooks I do not know.

Between the wars, Mother also went off on holiday to the South of France acting as companion to her aunt (I think this would be Aunt Peggy - Margaret Fairlie). So when I eventually took my family abroad it was only to find out that she had been there and done that long before me!

In 1929, after the death of her uncle Jack (Rev. John Kirkwood Fairlie), a young brash Glaswegian, George Allan, came to Fenwick and, despite rejecting him three times, Mother and he were eventually married in 1932. They moved to Port Glasgow and started bringing up their family of four. It was now another difficult time with the start of the 2nd World War and raising a family before the days of antibiotics gave much concern. During air raids, I have been told I would sit on the cellar steps going “Boom, Boom”, every time a bomb fell. The children were soon evacuated back to Fenwick to stay with their cousins but Mother and Father stayed and were involved in various supportive ways in the community.

In 1946, the family moved to Lanark. Father always considered himself extremely fortunate to be called to Cairns Church. In those days there was considerable competition for a vacant charge – changed days indeed! There was a lovely manse with a large garden and surrounding countryside which they greatly enjoyed.

How did Mother cope?
A family of four – three of them boys!
A large house which was always kept tidy, apart from Father’s study and darkroom.
A garden which she enjoyed and would have liked to spend more time in.
Heavily involved in church affairs and charitable works.

One of {my sister's) memories is of Mother in Lanark preparing for Guild meetings and hearing her pacing up and down, reading out loud a prayer or text, which she would use at the evening meeting. This was a duty she did not enjoy, but did admirably. Through Mother, (my wife) remembers being involved in Meals on Wheels and charity collections.

When ever we smelt cooking in the kitchen, we would ask Mother what visitors were expected. Lots of Committee meetings took place in the manse as well as all the other callers we had. When a church coffee morning was held a special request came to Mother – “Would she bake scones?” – they were renowned. No coffee morning was without them. The manse was a very welcoming place to all visitors. This applied to the family’s friends too. At one time George’s and my friends gathered every Sunday afternoon for cards in the lounge!

Father’s hobby was photography. Rather a messy hobby. Photographic prints frequently lying in the bath! Mother took this in her stride and took great pride in his achievements, proud of the lectures and pleasure the photographs gave people.

Having been brought up in the countryside, Mother enjoyed the outdoor life – she and Father started caravanning before the war and continued after the war. This enjoyment she has passed on to her family.

When Father retired in 1966, they moved to North Berwick and enjoyed 20 years of retirement making many friends. Theirs was a long and very happy marriage. Now they were being visited by the grandchildren. All holidays for the grandchildren involved some time at North Berwick. I know they all have very fond memories of their grandparents there. My family always remember Grandpa appearing at the caravan at Yellowcraig with a poke of fish and chips for them!

After Father’s death, Mother moved to Ponteland, first to Dunsgreen and then to Abbeyfield House. Again her very strong faith helped to carry her through sad events and cope with another upheaval in her life. Here she was close to (her daughter) and her family. Watching them growing up and being involved in some of their activities gave her a lot of pleasure.

Mother had a gift for getting on with people. She had many friends where ever she had stayed. When she arrived in Ponteland in 1986, she was over 80 and she made the effort to get to know people around her. She made and enjoyed strong friendships. She became part of the Church here but also joined the Methodist Guild where again she had a circle of friends. Many members of the congregation here have written expressing admiration for Mother, and I know that at church in Lanark on Sunday there will be many similar comments.

Abbeyfied House became her home. She had good friends there and we cannot thank the staff enough for their help and assistance to her. She also enjoyed pottering in the garden there, whether the Committee approved or not! She and Rita could always hide in the bushes if the Committee arrived unexpectedly.

For many Mothers age, it is said that they have outlived their contemporaries and friends. Mother had outlived her contemoraries but she was still making friends and was still looking forward. The last time I visited her at Abbeyfield, she was saying that it was time to reduce the photographs of grandchildren from her room and replace them with photos of great grandchildren. Photographs were important to her in her last years. She enjoyed looking through her albums, reliving her memories of her life and her family and updating with photographs of the next generation.

Throughout her long life, she had a very strong Christian faith and was a devout member of the church. She was an example to us all and a very very hard act to follow.

Today is really a celebration of a long happy fruitful journey. She did not quite make the 100th birthday – that would have been a celebration! But that does not matter, as a family we are very proud of her – we loved her dearly - she was a gracious and remarkable lady.

No comments: