Thursday, February 5, 2009

Don't Know Why There's No Sun Up In The Sky

Just thought I would take a moment to remember my grandmother, Norah Lillian Mansell, who is sadly no longer with us but was born 100 years ago today, February 5th 1909.

Norah was a quietly remarkable woman. Born into a wealthy and influential family, she chose to elope to London with her beloved fiance Albert, a dashing carpenter of modest means. Their extraordinarily touching relationship is chronicled in a series of letters dating from the war years, when Albert served in the Royal Corps of Engineers.

I remember her for many things. One of my earliest memories is of watching the Doctor Who serial Terror of the Zygons in her little bungalow at Christmas time. I remember her devotion to her friends and her love of her family, her cat Blackie, her regular supply of PG Tips cards, and playing Lexicon with me on a regualar basis.

I can still taste her tea (no-one else made it quite the same), inevitably served in a little yellow mug, and the various treasures and ornaments that she collected over the years, including a simple plastic cross that reflected her honest faith and the quiet pain of the loss of her husband from a premature heart attack and her only son Alan from a tragic plane crash during his service with the Royal Air Force.

I remember playing her one of my favorite albums (Jeff Lynne's Armchair Theatre) in the car and we discussed two songs, "Stormy Weather" and "September Song" that she also remembered very fondly from her younger days.

She slipped away from this world in much the same way that she lived in it, quietly and unobtrusively, having taught me at least one important lesson - that a modest life, a humble heart, and earnest devotion to those closest to you is not only an acceptable ambition, but ultimately the only enduring one worth pursuing. Today, I feel her prescence and am comforted by the thought that somewhere out there her love shines on, a gentle beacon to us who linger yet in life's daily shadows.


raveandroll said...

I can't thank you enough for this. My grandmother was born March 8, 1909, so yours and mine were awfully close in age. There was no one sweeter and more devoted to her family, a gentle soul whose smile lit up a room. She left us when I had barely entered my teens and she was only 61 years old. It was devastating, but to this day I can feel her smile and warm hugs when things get especially difficult.

Brent said...

Last night and early this morning was a very scary time, my 13 month old daughter was having a tough time breathing so my wife and I brought her into the ER. She has croup which is apparently very common for babies. Anyways, I layed there on the hospital bed with my lil' one ,it started bringing back memories of my Grandpa Knollmeyer and his last moments lying in the hospital bed. My wife and I were the last ones he saw before he passed on. Grandpa Knollmeyer was a pain when I was a kid, always lecturing and talking about his days in the war. I never really got to know him til' I was a young adult. I found his stories of being in the Navy fascinating and I found that the lecturing wasn't lecturing at all ,but just advice for me because he had not wanted me to make the same mistakes he made. I found that I was a lot like him, towards the end of his life we became very good friends and I loved him a lot. Now when I think of him ,I always feel choked up inside and sometimes I shed a tear. I guess reading about your Grandma made me think of last night/early this morning (again) and now as I type this I feel choked up again and I guess we all feel the hurt of losing someone special to us. My wife is feeling that extra these days, my father in law passed away last Feb 14th while running in the park in Singapore ,so this is a very somber time for our family. Thanks for sharing such a personal memory with us.

whiteray said...

What a marvelous tribute! Well done.

Mikeyten said...

What a lovely post,thanksyou for taking the time to share,Mikeyten.