My paternal Grandmother, Margaret Hope Newitt was born in Helensburgh, Scotland. I wrote a bit about her growing up just north of there in Shandon in my previous post The Abandoned Mansion.
She passed away in September of 1985 which unbelievably was 34 years ago. Despite having lost her so long ago I have lots of really beautiful memories and art surrounding me to reflect on her. If I had to think of one word that described her best for me I would say that she was an artist. She taught art for years in Burnaby, British Columbia where she lived for most of her adult life. How I wish I could go back in time and be a student in one of her classes. My fondest memories are of listening to her whistle (inwards) while she painted.
Her gifts were almost always homemade, which to me are the best kinds of gifts. She made scrapbooks of family photos that she detailed with her own drawings or paintings. She passed on her love of the arts, I hope that she would be proud that I also like to make homemade cards and create scrapbooks to pass on our memories. It’s something I hope to work on more.
She was always creating…she even had a loom in her living room at one point. She was a collector of owls, I’m lucky enough to have a few of them around. She also collected fossils, dinosaur bones and rocks. How cool is this for a Grandma?! Every visit to her home in Burnaby where she lived included a trip to the basement where my brother and I felt like we were on an adventure Indiana Jones style. She was a rock hound and it was this hobby that gave her the unusual nickname “Gramma Rocks.” And rock, she did.
Like all of my grandparents, I wish that I knew her when she was younger, before she became Gramma Rocks. I’ve been told that she worked for a while for James Joyce the author, I believe in his office in Paris. During the Second World War she joined the ATS. This was the Auxillary Territorial Service … which was the women’s branch of the British Army. She reached the rank of Lieutenant which meant that my Grandfather, Walter Edmund Apps who was a pilot and Staff Sgt. (in the Glider Pilot Regiment of the Royal Air Force) would have had to salute her. Gawd, I love this thought.
At the end of the war she and Poppa and their young son left England forever, embarking on their new lives in Canada. They dedicated the rest of their lives rallying for Peace. And why wouldn’t they, hadn’t they seen enough violence and death with all the war in their lives? She lost 3 uncles in WW1. Poppa lost a brother and countless friends in WW2. Any glider pilot that was lucky enough to have survived D-Day would likely go onto Arnhem. So. Many. Lives. Lost.
An Appeal to the Mothers of the Whole World
“She was a veteran of World War II and always worked for world peace and harmony through her art and poetry.”