Tuesday, October 05, 2004

I wanted to add Grandma's eulogy here that I had the honor of saying at the funeral with Tannis. She wrote it before we got home and I was very satisfied with her work when I finally got home to read it.


As we stand here today, we would like to speak for a few moments about the woman whose life we are honouring and celebrating. We must emphasize the word celebrate, because although we are all grieving and mourning the loss of someone who was so very important to us, we would like to think of this as a very special time in which we share with others our remembrances of Grandma, or Mom, or Ruth. On behalf of her grandchildren, we would like to help everyone else see our Grandma for the vibrant and classy person that she was and in doing so, connect with her one more time.

Grandma was born on November 5, 1915 in the Mountain Gap District in the R.M. of Grandview. She was the third child in a family of six which consisted of two sisters and three brothers. She began her schooling in Mountain Gap, but then moved to McCreary and stayed with her Grandmother Collins to finish Grades 9, 10, and 11. At that point, her formal education was complete, and she moved back to the Grandview area where she earned a living as a domestic for a few years before her marriage.

A favourite outing at the time was the traditional Tamarisk picnic. It was at one of these country picnics that a big, strong, young gentleman named Marshall Dalgleish competed in a sheaf-pitching contest where he became the undisputed champion, and in doing so, captured the heart of one Ruth Fisher. And, I guess, the rest is history. The two were united in marriage on December 8, 1937. Grandma very easily settled into her role as farm wife as she readily pitched in and did her share of the work; she raised chickens, milked cows, planted and cared for a large garden, sewed, knit, mended, cooked up a storm and baked lots of goodies to satisfy Grandpa's sweet tooth.

Grandpa and Grandma became parents in 1941 when their son Ken was born. Three years later their daughter Jeanne arrived and then along came their son Stuart a year and a half after that. Grandma's role as farm wife and household manager had now expanded to include the duties of motherhood. According to her children, she was always the one to smooth things over when tempers flared or when times were tough. And she always did it so sensibly and sensitively, without ever raising her voice.

Of course, our memories of Grandma start in the 1960s and 1970s when we were fortunate enough to be born into the Dalgleish clan. At least, Grandpa always led us to believe that being one of his grandchildren was a stroke of good luck, and to imagine how good looking we wouldn't be if we hadn't been related to him. Grandma's house was always a warm and inviting place where you were fed and watered, questioned about what was going on in your life and made to feel like you were important. We always knew that we were valued, respected, and loved at Grandma's house.

Grandma and Grandpa moved to town in 1977, jsut before their 40th wedding anniversary. It was once she was in town that Grandma was really able to become involved in a number of activities, all of which contributed to keeping her so young. She continued her association with the Dawn of Peace Rebekah Lodge and the GACC Ladies Auxiliary, curled more often, and took up golfing and bowling. One of the highlights of her sporting life was the day she golfed nine holes in the morning, bowled in the afternoon and then curled in the evening. Not too many people can make such a claim, I'm sure. She continued with her knitting and became an avid quilter; each of us was thrilled to receive a pair of mittens, a toque, scarf or sweater, a quilt or one of her afghans. She learned to line dance in her 70s and later taught herself to crochet in her 80s. Grandma loved to read, do her crossword puzzles, go out for coffee with her frends and play a mean game of crib or hand-and-foot canasta. Upon their retirement from the farm, Grandma and Grandpa spent time travelling together, taking tours to the Maritimes, Hawaii, Florida, and California. However, it was still a highlight for them to take a drive out to the farm and visit with Uncle Stuart and Auntie Eunice. Even as young children, we could see that the relationship between Grandma and Grandpa was a special one. They were a very social couple who loved to dance, and we loved to watch them glide around the dance floor at weddings and anniversaries. They enjoyed fifty-five years of marriage together before Grandpa passed away in 1993.

Throughout her life, we knew that the one constant, and the one thing that was of the utmost importance to Grandma was her family. She raised her children to be the best that they could be and was so very proud of all three of them. Later, her eight grandchildren and her seven great-grandchildren were a source of great pride to her. Christmas concerts, music festivals and recitals, volleyball, basketball, hockey and baseball games, graduations, special family occasions - wherever her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren were, she did her best to be there too. She was never judgmental, always treating us with respect and interest; her gentle presence was so meaningful to all of us. We loved to tease Grandma, which she either accepted good-naturedly or came right back at you with a witty remark. Often, the teasing had to do with her being left-handed. She was quite proud of a plaque in her living room which read "Everyone is born right-handed; only the gifted overcome it."

Although Grandma's life had its hardships such as losing a son in infancy in 1954 and losing both her husband and grandson Warren in 1993, she was never one to back away from adversity. Through the good times and the bad, she held her head high and was a source of inspiration to us all. We all knew that her door was open and that she would be there for us when we needed her. Grandma was diagnosed with her illness in the late 1990s but who would have ever known? She did not waste time feeling sorry for herself. Instead, she went right on with the business of living. To her, this medical condition was just a minor obstacle that she could easily overcome. She viewed each trip to the hospital as a short stay for the purpose of getting rejuvenated, then she would be able to get right back home and into her regular routine once again.

Throughout so many conversations that we have had with family and friends in the last little while, there has been a recurring theme. How many times have I heard the phrase, "Your Grandma - she is one classy lady." Although it is nice to hear it, nobody needed to tell us. We knew. We were all so very proud of her and loved to brag about her. Not too many people can say that their Grandma is or was a line-dancing, bingo-palying, bowling, curling, and golfing machine! She was an impeccable dresser who carried herself with dignity and grace. This was evident right up until the end. The day she was leaving in the ambulance for Winnipeg, she had not yet put on any makeup or fixed up her hair that day, and was quite dismayed about her appearance, if you can imagine. No one could convince her that it didn't matter. By the time the ambulance was ready though, so was she.

Each one of us has been a part of Grandma's life in some way. And, as a result, each one of us is a little richer for having known her. It is hard to imagine her house without her in it; however, nothing can take away a lifetime of memories. How fortunate we all are to have had Grandma in our lives. She will always be here in our hearts, guiding us with her gentle strength as we make choices and decisions, encouraging us to remember the importance of family ties, inspiring us to live lives that will make a difference. She was, quite simply, one of a kind.

We love you Grandma and we will miss you, but thank you for the memories. May God bless you as we have been blessed.