This past Tuesday I returned from Saskatoon where my grandma's funeral was held. Had she been there in spirit she would have enjoyed the service. We celebrated her life, spoke of the hardships, her character, her idiosyncrasies and her joys. There were some tears, but just as much laughter too. She loved curling and country music. We didn't have a sheet of ice to throw the casket down and scream, "Haa-eerd, haa-eerd," to accompaniment of thumping brooms, but we did have a guitar and a couple of strong voices to sing "The Mansion on the Hill" and few other tunes. I was one of the eulogists, and did my best to remember her as well as I could.
Here is the text I delivered on July 10, 2008:
Words on Grandma, Thursday July 10, 2008My grandmother and I had a special relationship. When I was a babe our family lost our mother, Mae Darwent. For a number of years i lived with a number of families related to Mom. But, at some point my father, Eddie Darwent, decided I need a long-term home that offered stability. He approached our grandmother, Frances Irvine, and insisted she take me in. For from the time I was nine years and for the next twelve years her home was my home. She was my guardian after my father died in 1972, she was also my parent. So I offer some reflections of a person I think I can say I knew well.
Frances Irvine, born July 6, 1915 was the eldest of 11 children born to Peter Pavelick and Eva Podoleski. Frances passed away on July 2nd, 2008 at Parkridge Center. She was predeceased by her parents Peter and Eva; husband James Irvine; daughters May (Edward) Darwent; Zella (Bill) Halliday; Gladys (Joe) Kaminesky; son Ben (Alvina) brothers Johnny, Joseph (Mary) Steve and Andrew; sisters Anne, Mary (John) Howard son in law Ray Schneider; brother in law Bill Kardish.
Surviving are four daughters, four sons, a special friend, two sisters, and two brothers.
Frances came to the Providence school district to keep house for James Irvine, a widower with 5 small children. Frances and Jim eventually married and raised a total of 11 children. Frances had the very great pleasure of having 39 grand children, 56 great grandchildren and 14 great great grandchildren.
Times were very hard but Frances could make a meal out of flour and water, with maybe one egg thrown in if available. She loved working in her big garden, canned quarts of wild fruits, vegetables and sauerkraut. She was an exceptional sewer which allowed her to make the girls dresses from flour sacks and a package of dye.
Frances moved to Saskatoon in 1950 and worked in various restaurants. She eventually bought a house in 1964 and operated a care home for seniors with disabilities. She operated the care home until 2004. The last two years Frances was staying at the Parkridge Center.