Marion Bernice Lovatt was a beautiful lady inside and out. Everyone called her “Bernice or Bernie”. She carried herself with dignity, elegance and grace. She was wise, thoughtful, caring and quite outspoken at times. I loved that about her. We could sit for hours talking about her life experiences and how she “just knew” that my Grandpa was the one.
She met my Grandpa in her early 40’s at a dance club and back then that was unheard of. She was never married, proposed to a few times but because of religious reasons she couldn’t marry.
“Oh he was such a good dancer, Anthea. When he walked over to ask me to dance, it was wonderful. He wore this lovely chapeau and looked dapper as ever. When I went home that night, my Mother was waiting up for me to find out how my evening went, and that’s when I told her I think I have met the man, I am really going to marry.”
Those were her words. I miss those stories and I would do anything to have her share them again. They were beautiful, romantic and full of simplicity. She would smile and have a twinkle in her eye every time she spoke of my Popops (Grandpa)
My Grandpa lost his first wife, but thankfully he fell in love again and boy, am I ever glad he did. You see, my Gran and I had a very special bond. She was that Gran who was intentional. She played with me and understood me. We connected over art, singing, sharing stories, cooking and baking together and eating white bread with butter and sugar with a cup of tea. She was a role model to me and inspired me at a young age to draw and paint. Admittedly I wasn’t that good. But one thing I can draw well is trees because my Gran spent time teaching me. Gran was a budding artist but didn’t have enough confidence to display her work anywhere except in her living room. I was always blown away by her humility especially around her God-given talent. Thankfully I was given one of her paintings and I will cherish it. She had a love for trees and ironically so do I.
Gran was that older wiser woman that I would often call to ask her for advice or to hear one of her stories, which always helped me to put things into perspective. She had a different outlook on life from most and I think a lot of that had to do with her marrying later. She was strong, sometimes stubborn and courageous and lived life to the fullest, never complained and gave of her time generously. She never took things for granted and was always grateful. Gran had a love for her family that was indescribable. She made the best homemade butter tarts in the world, which would often result with in my Dad or brother hiding them so no one else could eat to them. They were delicious! Gran loved her pearl necklace and wore it often. She was classy that way. I miss her.
She died 2 years ago today. It was a difficult morning. We received a call the night before telling us that she had been rushed to emergency and found out the next morning that she had experienced a massive heart attack and it wouldn’t be too long before she passed. When I got this news I did everything I could to get to the hospital to be there before she died. I was on the opposite side of the city and with devastation I missed her by 20 minutes. When I arrived, I walked down what seemed to be a very long and narrow hallway that took forever. A woman approached me and asked, “Are you Anthea?” With tears in my eyes I quietly replied, “yes”. She took my hand and guided me to where my Gran was peacefully lying. The pain of losing her without saying goodbye was agonizing. I sat beside her, held her still warm hand and was so sorry that I wasn’t there in time. I did everything I could but that damn rush hour traffic got in the way. I am annoyed by moments like those, where everything seems to be in slow motion and nothing can be done about it. I desperately prayed; crying out to God to let her hold on. But she was at peace and it was her time to go. I am thankful that her loving neighbour who was like a daughter to Gran, was with her, as well as that beautiful Chaplin who greeted me in the hallway. The rest of the family joined us; we said our goodbyes knowing she entered Heaven and joined with her family and friends that went before her. She was just shy of turning 97 after all and had been ready to depart this world for years. One of my most favourite lines from her when she had her setback the summer before was, “I don’t know why HE won’t take me yet. I’m ready.” Oh, we laughed and I told her “I wasn’t ready!” The truth is, I don’t think I was ever ready. When are you ready to let go of someone you love?
When I had to put something down on paper for the funeral, I felt numb. I couldn’t get the words out. Has that ever happened to you? I didn’t know what to say and I always have something to say. But this time was different. She died quickly and I wasn’t prepared. You can never prepare yourself for death. Writing a eulogy didn’t come easy and I knew in my heart that the relationship I had with my sweet Gran didn’t need to be explained to anyone but I feel it is time. She knew me well and I knew her. As of late, I have been caught up in a cluster of emotions thinking about her, wanting her advice and needing her stories. I want the world to know the significance this incredible woman had on my life. She inspired me to spread my wings and fly. I always had this vision that I was an eagle sitting on a mountaintop just waiting for the wind to push me off so I could soar. When Gran died, I believe she gave me that gust of wind and courage to help me take that leap of faith and to dream again. To believe in myself that I too could do great things. Thank you Gran for blessing me with the courage to pursue my dreams, for your gorgeous painting which inspired Branching Forward, for your love which always shines deeply in my heart and for giving me the push to soar. You are loved and missed.