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December 22, 2008

Memories .....

Today would have been my Grandmother's 108th birthday. Sadly, she died in 1977 having been confined to wheelchair for almost twenty years. She was a strong but very quiet woman, brought up on a farm in the Eastern Orange Free State in South Africa, she could ride, shoot and do all the things a "Lady" should be able to do. Educated in the Pietermaritzburg Lady's College (I forget the correct name for this venerable Institution which I think no longer exists) she took prizes for dressage (Side saddle of course) and was an accomplished pianist, something she never managed to pass on to me!

Tookie HMH and HNH 1946.jpg
Hector Mary Heron and Henry Nelson Heron with their dog "Tookie" in 1946, the year I was born.

Gran, as we called her, was officially Hector Mary Heron, her first name the result of her being born the day the British Forces under General Hector MacDonald drove the Boer forces away from Harrismith and relieved a small 'seige' around her parents farm. Great Grandmother Hopkins, on being told that the General would have liked a boy born that day to be named for him, retorted "Well my daughter will be!" and promptly did so. Everyone else called her Mary and my grandfather always called her "Hoppy", his affectionate abbreviation of her Maiden Name. Abiding memories of her was her passion for walks, several miles to go shopping was nothing to her at all, and for nature. She raised both my brother and I as our mother and father both worked and it was she who saw our homework done and sorted out lunches and suppers.

In all the years she spent in her wheelchair she never complained of what she had lost or could no longer do, instead she found new things to occupy her. Sadly, the condition which had led to her being in the wheelchair in the first place was a degenerative one and slowly deprived her of the ability to speak coherently, though her mind remained sharp as a needle. She died six months after my Grandfather who had devoted his last years to caring for her - and just three weeks before her 77th Birthday.

Posted by The Gray Monk at December 22, 2008 09:07 AM

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