Yesterday tea time we got the news that we had been half expecting since Tuesday. Rachel’s Grandmother Ethel Smethurst, died in her sleep Saturday morning. About a month ago she fell and badly fractured her left leg. Ethel was a very active woman, and despite advancing age (she was 85) would never let anyone help her out, and moved at a rate that would put many of you to shame. However it was a constant worry that she would have an accident like this, since she was getting very fragile and just wouldn’t slow down! It wasn’t the leg wound that she died of. While in hospital she caught flu and it was of this she succumbed to. Rachel’s parents where there when she died, and Rachel had seen her on Tuesday. Rachel is getting on with life , as one does when one has two weeks of night shifts, but breaks down in tears when she thinks of Ethel. As does this grown man, the water seeping through an exterior of granite.
I’m deeply sad about Ethel’s demise. She was a marvellous person, full of no nonsense life and energy. For someone who said she was the thicky of the family, born into the family of a Mill owner in Oldham she never worked for a living or went to college, she was as sharp as a diamond. It was all a smokescreen really, and act that often had me fooled. I’ll miss the kindness she showed me when I joined the family, and the support that she gave me and Rachel. She didn’t have to but it was with a breath taking generosity that is sometimes lacking in the world.
The funeral is going to be sometime next week. We’re holding the wake at the Spring Inn in Oldham, were so many family meets were held, including the meal the night before my wedding. Its going to feel strange though. I’ll be half expecting Ethel to rush up to me at roadrunner speed and hand me her purse to put behind the counter saying that she was paying and the ensuing row with her son Brian that she shouldn’t pay because its us taking us out, leading to the classic rebuke “well you better have it while I’m here”
I am eternally grateful that I met and had the privilege to spend time with Ethel. While she was very much her own person she had time and interest in others. It is this and her breathtaking speed of movement that will inspire me for the rest of my life.