Friday, January 22, 2010

Jean R. Allen (1929-2010) - A Eulogy

What follows is not the original text from the service for my mom. As it was written, it was more a point-form layout designed to be read aloud rather than perused. I did my best to recreate it, without too much embellishment. I have not included the kind and insightful words offered on the day by Reverend John Perkin (I will endeavour to transcribe and add at a later date).

The visitations and service were well attended by a broad scope of individuals who had been touched in one way or another by my mom.

All that being said, there were countless others whom I know were unable to attend. My hope is that I can reflect the events of the day and share them with all to remember.

There is no doubt that my mother's passing is in one way an ending, just as her birth was a beginning. Between these events, like bookends, lie the volumes of living and a life spelled out over the 80 years she shared with us. Here we can remember... celebrate..... and learn of each other's joys of knowing her.

I have had the great privilege of knowing my mother my whole life. Outside our life together was another span equal to my own in which she lived a life I can only see remotely. My thoughts today offer testimony to all I have known of her, and far beyond.

As a craftsperson, my mother contributed and created for the world around her.

The NanaJean Ball (So named for it's maker)

is one such creation :

It is soft, pliable, chewable if need be; yet firm enough to grasp, to hold, to squeeze and still retain it's shape. A down-to-earth pragmatic solution to the problem of safe play for a young child.

Upon closer inspection we see each panel having 5 sides.... As if to reflect her own families (Atkinsons and Allens). Each panel, as made by hand, being slightly different. Always colourful.... and when assembled, having a use far beyond the abilities of the individual piece.

It gives me great joy to say that dear friends of mine are expecting their first child in July. I will have the great honour of giving them one of the last remaining NanaJean Balls for their newborn to enjoy in the years to come.

Before any sons or husband, my mother worked with the Victorian Order of Nurses. Over the span of her last days, I met a nurse here in Sackville who remembered my mother to me.

She would have been a young woman herself when my mother tended to her ailing grandfather so many years ago. She was recollected to me as “jolly”, “happy”, “down to earth”. Hearing this extended the reach of my mother's influence beyond both my knowledge and my existence. It gave weight to the impact and affect we all have on the world around us as a result of our actions and choices. There is no real way to quantify how near or far my mother's deeds reached. What remains is to be able to qualify them. Her way – her methods – her personality – had such scope as to give us all here pause, and to hopefully empower us to achieve the same in our own daily lives.

Four days ago (Jaunary 5th, 2010) we learned yet again something new about our mother. We had no knowledge of it's existence. At first it had no meaning... no context... no place in our story.

Upon her passing, my brothers and I assembled some of my mother's affects. This included her wedding band. It was our desire to reunite the rings of my father and mother to give honour to both. Upon closer inspection, we found an inscription on the inside of her ring. It included the date of my parents wedding and a small, three word phrase.

When bringing her ring together with my father's, we found the very same inscription on both rings. Stored in the same box as my Father's wedding band, we found a third ring... it too bore this same three word message. Based on it size and date (May 31st, 1916), we believe it to have belonged to our grandmother.

All three bands bore the inscription: Ke-Non-Wes.

We found it to be an Iroquois phrase meaning: I - love - one

A simple bond: exchanged 50 years ago between husband and wife. Expressed in the most unique and wonderful way. One that now know has been expressed in the same way for two generations, and that we can share with you here almost a hundred years after it began.

Note: It had been our intent to have three baskets of yarn clippings (selected from my mother's varied collection ) available at the the front door of the parlour. Upon leaving the house for the service that afternoon, we sadly left them behind. I've included this section so that those that choose, may act upon it's intent.

In the foyer, on the table by the door, there are three baskets of yarn fragments taken from my mother's vast collection. We ask that on leaving there today, to please take two clippings:

    • One to keep: in the spirit of remembrance of the woman herself and all she has meant to us, and

    • One to cast away at the time and place of your choosing: to acknowledge, be it brief or lasting, the depth and breadth of influence we have on the lives of those we touch.

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