Today we said farewell to Warwicks Gran, Merle Allen. It was a day of reflection as her large, tightknit family reminisced about a long life, lived well.
I didn’t personally have the chance to spend much time with Gran (or GG as she was known to her great-grandchildren), so whilst we didn’t form a close relationship, she is certainly someone I’ll never forget.
It’s disapointing that she never had the chance to meet Baby Gabe, however she sent him a lovely purple knitted blanket that we’ll treasure just as we treasure the one she made for Briar.
Thankfully we did spend a week with the Allen family when Briar was about nine months old and Gran enjoyed chatting with her great grand daughter. In the photo below, GG is having a very animated conversation with great-grandaughters Annabelle on the left and Briar on the right.
Much of my time today was spent chasing after Briar and keeping her from making a ruckus at the funeral. The church had an excellent cry room stocked with toys, books and craft activities so Briar enjoyed her time spent there. There was also a cubby with a slide, which Briar made the most of.
Briar was born 92 years after her GG was, and as a baby she very much showed her Allen genes. Her infant red hair and fair complexion is inherited from the Allen side, and whilst these days people comment how much she resembles me, I was actually white blonde as a child, so her colouring is still that of the Allen family.
It struck me today, as I listened to many stories about Merle, that Briar has many things in common with her great grandmother. Merle was a larger than life personality. She was engaging, very social and made an impact on all who met her. I feel Briar could be described in the same way.
Many spoke of Merles hospitality and inclusivity, a trait that has definitely been passed through the generations. Warwick values hospitality wholeheartedly, and as stories were shared of Merle hosting youth group progressive dinners and sneaking biscuits to neighborhood children, I thought of her grandson Warwick and how similar he is.
As GG’s great grandchildren ran wild together throughout the afternoon, I witnessed a moment where Briar to displayed these same character traits. She had climbed up to the cubby and was taking a moment to snack on some fritz and cheese that her Gran had packed in her lunch box. When little Grace (daughter of Warwicks cousin) started eyeing off Briar’s food, Briar was quick to offer to share. I was proud of my two year old for showing that same kindness and hospitable nature that has been passed through the family.
A particularly memorable moment for me as Briar’s mother unfolded at the dinner this evening. Family and friends of Merle gathered at the local RSL for dinner. Briar and I had been playing outside with her second cousins when we brought the kids inside for dinner. I had Gabe in my arms and Briar ran ahead. I was quite astounded by what she did next.
When we entered the building, Briar didn’t make a beeline for her dad or grandparents like I anticipated, but instead she waltzed up to another table, filled with people she’d never met. She not only sat herself down with a big smile, but within minutes had climbed into the lap of one of the ladies seated there for a cuddle. Briar then proceeded to eat dinner with this table of newfound friends, and spent quite some time playing with and talking to them. Warwick and I watched on in disbelief.
Of course, being a family event, the table was relatives of Warwicks and they were delighted by Briar. However as a two year old she has no concept of how everyone is connected as an extended family and to her they truly were total strangers that she befriended. I couldn’t believe how bold and confident she was to do this.
It was quite an eye opening experience and there’s no question that had it been a table of true strangers, we’d have never let Briar do this, however I was struck by just how fearless, friendly and outgoing our little girl is. I think her GG would be delighted to see what a character she is growing up to be.