A Tribute To My Nan – “The Bread And Butter Woman”

My Nan, Aged 17 in 1943. This photo sits on my desk in my craft room and is how I shall remember her.
My Nan, Aged 17 in 1943. This photo sits on my desk and is how I shall remember her.

I haven’t posted anything up on here lately because I have been overcoming the sad news of the loss of my Nan just over two weeks ago. Today is the day of her funeral and it seemed like a good opportunity to pay tribute to her on here and thank her for all she gave me. (I’m presuming they have internet up in heaven and that she suddenly knows how to work a computer).

img001adjusted after paint
My Granddad and Nan. My Nan gave this to me a few years ago.

My Nan was a creative, like me and she encouraged me to show our talents to the world. She could draw, paint, sew, knit, bake, make jams and jellies, she was a great gardener, the list goes on and on. My Granddad called her a “Bread and Butter Woman” I think because of this. She opened up a restaurant after she and my granddad retired called “The Georgian Rose” in Great Bentley near Brightlingsea, Essex. My Nan had always wanted to open a little tea room but she had to settle for a 40 seater restaurant instead. This was a success until my granddad Harry passed away at the age of 63. My Nan continued on with the business for a couple of months after his death but then sold the business. She then travelled the world, while her new home was being renovated and went on several cruises, Australia, America and a few other place she travelled to.

Why am I writing this on my site? Because she is responsible for who I am. She encouraged me to garden, I can remember her teaching me how to deadhead, something which I couldn’t understand when she taught me this. One of my earliest memories of her is her taking me out in her little Metro car and buying me a Hyacinth jar. My face in wonder as this bulb came into life and flowered as if by magic. When I got my own garden she only saw this twice but was impressed with the work I had done on it. She was always giving me encouragement to continue with it and lots of technical advice too. One of her favourite plants Euphorbia “Wulfenii” will be planted soon in her memory.

Her creativeness rubbed on me at a young age and at the age of 11 she gave me her watercolour set, something which I still use to this day. Her massive collection of glass paints and pattens she collected were also donated to me and again these I continue to use. My work became better and better throughout the years and more and more she encouraged me to really put myself out there and try and sell my work to the public. I had no confidence in putting a price to the things I was making and so was hesitant to do so.

I had spoken to her for some time about carving wood and then one Christmas I decided to carve her this Robin. My Nan was a real fan of them and I decided this bird was appropriate. He was carved from Oak and then given a walnut bill, something which I have continued with my other birds since.

The Fat Robin, Christmas 2013
Looking at it now I see tool marks in it and other issues, but my Nan loved it to bits. This robin had sat in the TTNP’s office for about a month and during that time had gained a few admirers as well as future orders fro both staff and volunteers. Upon giving her the robin I enclosed a letter saying what had happened since I made this chap. When my Nan found this out it gave her quite a thrill, that she could still make a difference even though she was becoming more and more immobile during the last few years of her life. She insisted and pushed me on to make more things to sell. She would send me clippings and catalogues suggesting all these things I could make. All of these were stuck into scrap books, I think I have 3 now and I still refer to to these to this day for inspiration. She bought me a set of carving chisels last Christmas (I was only using 3 gouges beforehand) which I now use on every carving since. She helped me out in so many ways I could go on and on.

The last photo taken with my Nan in May 2014.

Today is the day of the funeral and I have decided to do my own little thing. I had made these little bumble bee bodies a few months ago but couldn’t figure out how to finish them. Soon after she died I finished them and this was the result. I then decided to make a dragonfly and butterfly to go with these and these shall now sit on top of her wreath for the funeral.

The Completed Wreath
Gold Bumble Bee, Turned On My Lathe With Metal Wings
Dragonfly, Again Turned On My Lathe

One small gold bumble bee remains behind and with this I shall be tying it to a balloon and launching it at the top of a local hill. Why a bumble bee? Why not a dove or a heart or something else? Because the bumble bee represents my work, which has now become my identity, my Nan suggested me using the bumble bee as my makers mark and so felt this was fitting. My Nan was also like me a busy bee, she was keeping herself occupied up until she died at the age of 89.

The Gold Bumble Bee With A £2 Coin Next To It To Give A Sense Of Scale.

This balloon will be launched today and I’ve attached a note with it saying the following “This Balloon was launched on 30/7/2015 from Stanford Le Hope Essex. It carries my Nan’s spirit in the form of a bumble bee. Please contact me if you find this on the email address opposite as I would like to know how far it has flown”.

If you are that person reading this then please get in touch, I don’t want the bee back, you are welcome to keep it if you want to. Just please remember that this was in memory of my Nan, who made me the person that I am.

I also wrote out a poem for my Nan’s funeral which my Dad kindly read out for me. This is the following text.

Nanny, what are we going to do?
Now that you have passed on
There is no one left like you.

Things would be said that were never mentioned
And things would then be at a mend,
Things would have felt so much better
But you still wouldn’t be here in the end

You filled our minds with inspiration
To go out in life, try something and achieve
You encouraged us to do so many things in life
The potential you saw in us you believed

Your presence filled us all with colour
Turning darkness into light
But now your glow has left this world
And joined the stars shining so bright

You would fill your garden with plants
Roses and Dahlias to name a few
And come the summer the garden would explode with colour
With reds, yellows, whites and blues

And then birds would come and bring you joy
Robins, Blackbirds and Starlings would nest
They would fill your garden with songs and life
And for this you felt truly blessed

And from this garden vegetables and fruit would grow
Homemade Jams and jellies we would eat
We would stuff our faces with scones and enjoy the sunshine
As the birds continued to tweet

But summer must now come to an end
In the autumn new seeds would be sown
As those nights draw in, slow down and cool
And from their nests the young birds have flown

Then Christmas would come
And you would eat chocolates until you were full
Your creations would bloom at this time of the year
With handmade gifts for all

Your hobbies were vast and broad
From Fabric, Paper, and wool you would make
Creations would appear as if by magic from your hands
And in the kitchen tasty meals you would bake

Paint you would administer to paper and glass
You were truly a wonderful artist
We will look at your creations now and say to ourselves
“Dorothy was one of the smartest”

My Nanny had determination in her
Even to the end she was always learning
The cogs in her mind continued to spin
As her spirit kept on burning

My Nanny was a bookworm
With books on her shelf stacked up to a great height
The subjects she read were far and wide
So her imagination would then take flight

She would sit and put the world to rights
Her political views were strong
Her mission was to solve the Daily Mail crossword
Without getting a single word wrong

I have a box full of letters from my Nanny
As distance kept us apart
My day would brighten when these letters would arrive
And bring a song to my heart

These letters would be full of news and memories
What we had made, things we would achieve
But now these letters have gone and life must carry on
But for this loss I will grieve

We thank you for these happy memories
These will always stay with me
We have to say goodbye to you now though
For the pain you felt, you’re now free

You cared for everyone so much
And we hope we returned that love
We all hope you are listening to this
From the stars up high above


Leave a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s