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.