Thursday, July 03, 2008

I remember my first communion, I was about eleven years old, standing up here, nervous as I could be, as I had been given the task of reading a passage for our graduating group. I remember being a nervous, gawky gal, looking out in this very large congregation, I had almost lost nerve, and as I paused at the paulpet, I looked out and wavered a bit, and then I spotted Gran. She was so proud, so noble, so at peace, so serene, as she was so at home ,in this church, and surrounded by her family and through her stance, maybe her smile, it gave me courage to make the reading.

And here I am now, at the very paulpet, in the very same church, a church filled with love, in which would bring her most comfort and peace.

But today I stand without her smiling, loving face, to guide me forward...

But as I look out at this congregation, I realize, in my heart, it is here, it will always be here, it is in the faces of all who she loved. And for this, my heart, just as yours, should find solace.

My Name is Pendullum and I am the eldest grand daughter of Margaret Patricia Dribblingwitt. Or simply, Patsy, to her friends.

I have been given the great honour to write a eulogy for my grandmother.

A eulogy, when I looked up its true meaning was that of a speech in which we give praise of a person. And this puts me in a quandary, as to write a speech about my Gran, I would almost insist that you pull out a cushion, make yourself comfortable and hear a yarn of a truly wonderful matriarch who had quite the journey on these eighty seven years on this planet.

And to know my Gran, was to love my Gran.

And I would love to go back and talk of her growing up in Northern Ireland in County Down with her brothers and sisters, and of her Mammy and Da' . But I could never do it justice, as we really need her beautiful voice to tell the tale. We would also need to know the lay of the land, the smell of the air and if there was a breeze or wind blowing. We would need to hear of all the beautiful details of the fabric of the story. As it is in the telling, in which makes a true story.

I would love to tell the story of how she met her dear Paddy, my grandfather. How she met him at a dance.I would tell you how they went to four dances together, four dances which were held in the evening, before he asked her to a picnic on a beautiful, lush, sunny day. She would talk of how she was smitten,she would say of how she fancied him.
And then she would tell of her horror at the picnic...Then, in her tale, she would pause for dramatic effect, raise her eye brow, have a sip of tea, and then she would make certain she had eye contact and your undivided attention.

Her horror on this beautiful, warm, sunny, perfect afternoon day.

Was it the wind?

Nay, it was not the wind?

Was it the rain?

No, we already established it was a beautiful, sunny day.

Was it the fact that Paddy forgot to pack an essential piece for their picnic?

Maybe the blanket?

Was it, that Paddy was rude?

No, No, he was kind and ever so thoughtful and he had the best sense of humour and was fun.
He was perfect and that was the problem.

Now, how can this be a problem you may ask?

Well, Patrick John Dribblingwitt had the misfortune of being born with the most beautiful, green, Irish laughing eyes.

Now, if you are at a loss, you may not of known the point and the point is this:

My grandmother was intensely supersticious. An itchy nose was a certainty of a fight or a kiss by a fool, so she always shook your hand, thereby the fight would not be with her.She would always tell you with great certainty that if your dropped a fork a woman was coming over for an unexpected visit. A pair of new shoes on the table was a certainty of the worst fight imaginable.

But my grandmother's main golden superstition was about the Irish and green. She believed you should never wear green, especially if you were Irish, For the wee faery folk do not take too kindly if ya are wearing green, as they liked to play mischief with those who did.

And with the lead up to a perfect picnic, she told of her quandary.

'Pendullum, you can not stop seeing a man for the colour of 'is eyes.'

I like to believe this story showed how much she loved him, as she married him. She married him in spite of his beautiful green, green, laughing Irish eyes.

You have heard the story I am certain, of their wedding day and how Father Boyd who married this young couple, gave them a blessing of saying 'May you see your children's children's children.'

And with telling the story, as she often did, she would pause and say, 'Aye, I am blessed. I have, indeed, seen my children's children's children'.

And weren't they just the apple of her eye?

She truly loved her family.

She would often have tales of her life in Ireland with her boys,she would always refer to people with the pronoun Our. Our 'arry, Our 'Liam, Our Anthony, Our Martine.

And when I had written my Great Uncles all those years ago and asked what they remembered of Paddy and Patsy's home both brothers said the house was filled with love and endless laughter. I believe, no greater compliment could be paid of a family.

And Gran was a true storyteller, a story teller from a long impressive list of storytellers, not the least her Da. Gran was a storyteller, it was in her blood. She had her first taste when she was thirteen writing for the Newry Reporter and by the time she was in her fifties it was a polished artform.

When you went to visit her on Arthur Street you would be enveloped in love. You would be greeted by the warmest smile, her eyes would twinkle with delight. You would have to sit right next to her, on her left hand side, as her ashtray and her her provisions for the visit would be on her right. A pot of tea or two would be brewed,and you were to stay and tell of your news and to hear of hers and of the past. You would hear a story or two or twenty.

And as you sat, she would have you. And she would not let go, a hand on your arm, a face turned directly to you, with all her energy focussed upon your very being... She basked in 'the moment' shared. As it was a moment and she truly saw it as such.

And as you visited after the second pot of tea would be brewed, and then a meal. And when you thought there could be no more talk there would be the offering of chocolate; a sherry. And you knew how special you were, as these were items to be savoured, just as a good lottery ticket, or a new jar of Oil of Olay.

And the Past year a great deal was taken from my grandmother. She suffered. Goodness, how she suffered. And one would think that she was being 'tested'. She was in so much pain and discomfort.

But through it all, through each trial, I would marvel at how she was always kind, always polite, she never cussed or swore, she never forgot her manners. She was poked and proded, she always said please and thank yous for any act of kindness, her face always lit up with any of her family walked into her room at the hospital. We were like a vision of complete happiness in her days of extreme hardship.

But alas, the stories became no more. The delight of a taste of sherry was a thing of the distant past and chocolate but a distant dream.

And watching her, you had to marvel at the fortitude as she never lost her faith. And you wished her Godspeed for her to join her Mammy,her Da' her brothers and sisters and her Paddy with his beautiful, green, laughing, Irish eyes, as you did not want her to suffer anymore.

And when you looked at her, you had much time to reflect. Through that time, there was time to have made to have given thanks for her,to her. You gave thanks to have been given the blessing of knowing her, to have heard of some of her stories, to have heard her laughter, to know that all of us are better people for having known her, to have known her witt, to have known her love of song and to have known her stories.

I know in my heart she is the cornerstone to who I am today.

She is an intergral part of all who are in this church today. I can hear her voice in all of her children, in the way they can tell a story, how all inherited a love of a good story, and I can hear it in my cousins as they tell a yarn. It's in our blood, it's in our history, It's in our history with Margaret Patricia Dribblingwitt.

And in this time, I would just like to sing the praises of Margaret Patricia Dribblingwitt and thank her for the great visit and we all look forward to the tea, the sherry, the chocolates and the stories when we see her again.

Thank You.

Love You Gran,
Your Always,
Loving Grand Daughter,