Rita Grigg Eulogy 30th April 2014 By Maria Jones
I have been thinking of what to say about Mum and I can’t seem to focus on any one thing, because there is so much to say about who she was and the impact she had on our lives. So many people have said to us over the years how fortunate Mum was to have 2 daughters to love and take care of her. And yet, Virginia and I were only giving back in half measure all she has done and been to us.
Mum has been such a strong influence in our lives – she was fiercely loyal and committed to her family. We were always her priority and she gave us that priceless gift of security – that belief that all was well with the world.
She was practical and sensible, she got on with things without making a fuss and we took for granted how smoothly our lives ran. I must say though, she was fairly gender specific and while she taught Virginia and I to cook, sew and knit, the boys missed out. Nor were they or Dad expected to do the household chores and we were pretty annoyed that we had to make their beds when they came home from boarding school while they lounged around.
Mum was kind, generous and compassionate and could listen without judgement when personal stories of heartbreak and suffering were shared. Like most country women, she would be there to lend a hand or a shoulder to cry on whenever hardship or adversity hit others in their community.
Mum was also very honest and direct – some might say, at times, even tactless. Often, some of the things she said would have us in fits of laughter, which didn’t always amuse her. I remember her telling me once that a dress I had on (and paid a small fortune for) looked hideous and she hoped I wouldn’t ever wear it when any of her relatives came to visit. And whenever she said “go and put a bit of lippy on” that was code for “ you’re looking terrible, do something about it”. One of the kids said that at least whenever Nana gave them a compliment they knew that she meant it.
Mum loved her golf and later her bowls. She would tell us how she loved to read and write poetry and she was quite a passable painter in oils. She loved music and was always sorry she had never been taught the piano, although she could play by ear in a honky tonk way.
She was a keen gardener and loved the Australian bush. She told us funny stories about some of the things she and Aunty Una and Aunty Betty Walch got up to. She would say “don’t think that you were the only ones who had any fun”. She would tell us her life was a long and happy one and the bad patches just made her stronger. I believe that Mum, like many of the Mallee women, were often the strength behind their men, the quiet achievers, the constant thread that wove the tapestry together.
As Mum got older, her increasing deafness created an enormous dependence on Dad. I don’t think we realised until after Dad died just how much it impacted on her life, particularly in social situations. Without Dad, she became quite fearful about social interaction as she just couldn’t hear what people were saying. This, along with her grief, meant she no longer felt able to live alone.
This was the beginning of a new era for all of us. Virginia and I were given the opportunity and privilege to get to know Mum on a much deeper and personal level than before. It often amazed me that Mum was able to let go of that position of matriarch in the family. It must have been so difficult to move in with 2 families with their own traditions and way of living that was so different to her own. And yet she did so with graciousness and gratitude. So many times she would tell us how lucky she was and how she loved us.
She loved to talk about Dad, her parents, siblings and friends, of the fun, warmth and love they shared. Stories we now had the opportunity to listen to. She shared many of her own personal experiences and that intimacy enabled a much deeper and closer relationship between us all. She also experienced the joy of getting to know her 2 little great grandsons – Harry and Lewis – and the relationship between them all gave her great delight.
And, as so often happens – with age also comes wisdom. As Mum got older she became very reflective and would look back on her life and express a profound appreciation and gratitude for the people and places that were important to her.
She often spoke of the goodness and love of her own mother who had a great influence on her. The importance of her faith and relationship with God was paramount in her life. Even as a young child I would see her make time to pray during the day and this discipline remained with her always. We would often have discussions (sometimes arguments) about our beliefs and over the years I could see how her relationship with God matured and deepened.
In the last few months of her life this faith sustained and comforted her and she would say she was ready to die and was quietly confident she would return to those she loved and to her God.
And dear Mum, I believe you have gone home, that you are now with Dad & Mark and all those you love.
And we now have to say our goodbyes to you.
So rest in peace our darling Mum and know how much we love you.