A eulogy for my great-grandmother

 

A eulogy delivered after the requiem mass for my great-grandmother Elizabeth Adams.

I am posting it online to increase the chances of never losing the text.

I’d like to say just a few words before we begin.

If you don’t know who I am my name is Aidan and I was Lizzie’s grandson.

On behalf of the family, I would like to thank you all for coming today. It has meant a lot to us.

We are a small family and my Nana was at the centre of it. Her loss and caring for her over the past year has been very difficult for all of us.

Elizabeth was born on the 8th of March, 1919 to Andrew and Helen McGillivray and brought up in the hamlet of Gartgill which was situated near modern day Townhead in Coatbridge.

Nana was one of four children who survived infancy alongside her brothers John and William and her sister Catherine.

Growing up in this period of time in industrial Lanarkshire was not easy to say the least. The family lived in a house with two rooms with no running water or such luxuries as a toilet.

Today we would recognise this as poverty but Nana did not and she spoke fondly of her upbringing.

“They were hard times but good times,” she would often say.

The McGillivray family was delighted when they moved to Queens Crescent in Bargeddie in the late 1930s and all the mod-coms that came with it in the newly built council housing.

The mark the family left on the village is still there in the form of an arched hedge outside number 11 in the street built by Elizabeth’s father, Andrew.

One of Elizabeth’s early jobs was to make Communion hosts for the Little Sisters of the Poor in Glasgow’s southside. To get to her place of work Elizabeth would take a tram from Coatbridge to the city centre before walking several miles to the convent.

Elizabeth also worked for a GP and also in a bakery.

However, like most women of her generation, she gave up working after marriage.

She met her husband, William Adams, in the late 1930s and they went on to marry on New Year’s Eve, 1941 at St Bridget’s church in Baillieston.

Family photos show them as a stylish couple enjoying married life.

A year later their only child Helen was born.

The couple spent their early marriage during the Second World War between Bargeddie and Glenboig.

Elizabeth’s stories about life during the war would often be the centre of family occasions – usually after pestering her “go on, Nana, tell us a story about the war”.

Her favourite tale was about running with a friend during an air raid to pick up souvenir shards of shrapnel as it bounced around the street, much to her parents dismay.

Her husband William worked as a miner during the war continued down the pits until his death in September, 1967.

Although she was married for 26 years she was a widow for almost double that period.

She kept her William’s memory alive throughout her life with stories and tales of happier times to myself and my mum.

Nana was a fiercely independent person and who lived at home until her passing.

Over the last year Lizzie’s health sadly deteriorated and visits to the hospital and carers became the norm.

It was hard for all of the family as you can imagine but we got there.

One person who would do anything for Nana was my dad and both myself and my mum and gran would like to take a moment to thank you for everything you did. You lifted and laid her and made sure she was cared for with dignity and love.

You were there to make her comfortable right up until her final moments. We love you very much and so did Nana.

In healthier and happier times, Nana enjoyed nothing more than spending time with Helen up the bingo, pottering around Coatbridge Main Street getting her shopping and playing the puggies in Nobles.

On behalf of my gran, we would like to thank all the staff at Nobles for everything they have done in recent weeks and over the years. Not a birthday went past without gifts or flowers being sent.

Besides playing puggies, Lizzie also loved a family holiday and their was only one destination in mind: Blackpool.

One Wednesday evening Elizabeth got five numbers in the lottery but unfortunately for her it was a small jackpot that evening but still a nice windfall.

She could could have picked anywhere in the world to visit but no she paid for herself and her family to go to Blackpool.

There is many things which we miss already about Nana.

One of thing I won’t miss however is to walk in to her house to be greeted with “You’re putting the weight on, Aidan”.

Then 5 minutes later she’d have the kettle on and a plate of, what can only be properly described as a mound, of biscuits. I don’t think she was able to see any link between my expanding waist line and her biscuit tin.

Elizabeth’s life was one of endurance, independence, family and faith.

“Work hard and have a good life,” was her advice to me whenever we met. It was advice she could give freely as it was the ethic through which she lived.

She was the person who which our small family revolved around and we will all miss her greatly.

Thank you.

 

 

Elizabeth Adams

March 8, 1919 – June 1, 2017.

Eternal rest grant unto her o Lord.

And let perpetual light shine upon her.

May she rest in peace.

Amen.

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