Thoughts for a lovely lady
The tributes were opened by Aileen's son, Greg:
Our Mother was a person of such loving kindness, joyful spiritedness, and unexpected honesty that nothing will fill the enormous gap she has left in our lives. No words can adequately give a sense of her remarkable presence, let alone restore it to us, so let me quote some words that she was reading just a few days before she died. These are from Sir George Sitwell writing about the nature of gardening, and I like to think of our mother – who was a superb gardener – as participating in the creative, eternally repetitive and redemptive process suggested by Sitwell:
The garden-maker is striving not for herself alone but for those who come after, for the unborn children who shall play on the flowery lawns and chase each other through the alleys, filling their laps with treasure of never fading roses, weaving amidst the flowers and the sunshine dream-garlands of golden years. They too will know bare winter’s hidden hoard, when the earth under their feet is full of dreams … the rising murmur of insect delight, the scent of sun-kissed grasses … the riot and rapture of spring, and the passion of the flaming roses, and that strange thrill of autumn sadness when the flowers that have mingled their perfumes through the summer are breathing out to each other the grief of a last farewell. (On the Making of Gardens )
Aileen's youngest son, Chris, then shared all the messages sent from home and abroad with friends and family gathered at the service -
Cathy Challis from Cambridge, a dear friend of Karen and Aileen who has been a mountain of support for the whole family:
My memories of Aileen are one of a strong and
courageous woman, where we would talk, if allowed, on endless topics much to the
disapproving looks of her daughter Karen. We were like naughty children telling
each other to be quiet when we saw Karen coming back into the room.
I also joked with her about the way everything in her
cupboards had a place, telling her that when the lights went out at night, they
would all run around having fun until the next morning when they’d be back in
John Pascale from Sarasota, Florida, a dear friend of Greg and hugely fond of Aileen:
dear Aileen, how does one find an appropriate card or say just the right words ?
Will these words reach you in time to tell you that you touched my life and gave
me a very special gift too when I met your Greg.
that I’ll never again drink a glass of Chardonnay without thinking of you, or
be in a pub without the memory of November 26 2003 and the White Horse with you,
Karen and Chris.
My thoughts, my prayers, my tears – all are with you in spirit, dear Aileen, and with all those there who love you.
Belinda Wynne from Cape Town, our Mother's niece:
Aunty Aileen, I will miss your friendship and kindness always. Greg, Karen, Chris and Brian we cannot be present at your time of sadness but our thoughts and prayers are with you all. God Bless. Love Belinda, Barry and Robin
Hermine Goldie and Gwen Bradley from Cape Town, our Mother's sisters. Our Aunty Gwen was visiting our Mom in Cambridge at the time of her passing:
is difficult to put into words what Aileen meant in our lives. She
was our sister, our friend & our help and support in bad times.
greatest virtue was her love of family - not only for her children, who she
adored & sacrificed a great deal for, but also for her siblings & even
her nephews & nieces enjoyed her special interest & concern.
She was indeed a very special lady & her passing will leave a great void in our lives. She will always be remembered with great love & affection by her two sisters, Gwen & Hermine
Merrill David from State College, Pennsylvania, Greg's loving wife and loving daughter in law to our Mother:
so sorry we can’t be there with you today – but we’d like to share some of
our thoughts about Aileen:
asked if she’d like to say something about her Granny, Jaia, Aileen’s
6-year-old granddaughter, replied, “Who’s going to buy me Trebors?” and
she added, “I love how she loved me. I hope she knew how much I loved her.
She’ll always be in my heart.”
Aileen’s 4-year-old granddaughter said, “I really miss her so much.”
past weekend, I went out to our mailbox, and pulled the pile of mail out.
Flipping quickly through, I spotted Aileen’s handwriting. And I caught my breath.
I received a birthday card from Aileen -- four days after her death.
I was not surprised. It’s
impossible to think that such an orderly, energetic, and independent spirit has
been quelled. And, in so many ways,
it hasn’t really.
Jaia’s memory of her – a memory so pure and loving.
And in Bronte’s face – her eyes and nose and that little flat space
above the lips, and her fiercely independent spirit.
Aileen is—will always be—a part of them.
many ‘small’ things will forever be “Aileen” for us – the snowdrop
flowers in the spring, expressions of hers that we seemed to acquire, the little
rhymes and children’s songs she shared with the girls, her butter beans.
But more than these sorts of little things, a Granny’s love that is so
great is never forgotten – it becomes part of us.
We’ll always remember Aileen as a woman busy growing things. And we will plant a tree in our garden in her memory, and snowdrop bulbs to come up again each spring.
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