Just over two hours ago, Beatrice Sarah Jane Ennis, more lovingly known as Granny, took her final breath peacefully surrounded by family. She would have been 95 years old in September.
Born to very humble beginnings in 1922, Granny’s life was nothing short of amazing. She was highly intelligent, fiercely loyal, immeasurably strong, incredibly loving, and infinitely proud of her family. She was also loud and bullheaded and full of life, and she did not fit the mould of what society at the time might demand of a woman. She raised two kids while working full time, and she fought for and led the union at a time when these things were more often than naught the domain of men.
As a kid, I was fortunate because our family would often share Sunday dinners together – sometimes at my parents’ house, other times at my aunt’s, and other times at my Granny’s. Regardless of the location, it was always loud and boisterous and full of laughter. Her house, in particular, was a playground. From the tunnels that I imagined as I crawled the space created between the couch and the wall, to the darkest caves that connected the tiny access door in the basement bedroom to the furnace room and safety on the other side, she gave me and my brothers almost free reign to explore and be kids. And even when we were obnoxious little bastards, she still found a way to spoil us and make us feel loved.
Looking back on the woman she was, it’s difficult to identify a part of my life that she didn’t somehow influence. She encouraged me at every chance she could; asking with great interest about my studies, my career, my crazy adventures, and where I was off to next. Later in life she would sometimes gasp in shock when I’d tell her about something crazy I’d just done; she’d say something to suggest that she’d never do that thing, and then she’d laugh it off and call me crazy, all with a sparkle in her eye that told me she was proud and maybe more than just a little curious about it. I can say with certainty that my love of travel and adventure was borne from her example and her stories. I still have yet to see some of the countries she visited.
Granny was a truly remarkable woman. And even up to the end, despite the effects of dementia and a deteriorating body, she found a way to lighten the mood, to make us laugh, to make us feel protected and cared for and loved. As her body was shutting down, between fleeting moments of lucidity and dreaming, her focus was on taking care of us. Wherever she was, she was making us dinner, worried about the gravy, and reminding us to eat our carrots and veggies.
You will be missed Granny. Thank you for all that you were and all that you gave me.