A Tribute to Elizabeth Lockwood (1930 - 2008)
My mother-in-law Bette died in early 2008. She was a wonderful woman. This is the eulogy I delivered at her funeral.
My grandfather, just before he died, said to my mother, “as long as you are alive, I shall never be truly gone”.
When she told me this, I found his words resonated with me and caused me to reflect upon the legacy of families. Our loved ones do live on through us and today I want to consider the legacy Bette Lockwood has now left to her children and grandchildren.
When a baby is born, everyone immediately tries to form a connection to the new member of the family by noting his or her resemblance to other family members, saying things like “he has your nose” or “she has her grandfather’s eye’s”.
Peppered throughout the growing years, children become accustomed to hearing comparisons being made, not only of their physical attributes to others’ but also their similarities in personality. They hear comments like, “you have a temper just like your aunt or you’re such a ham - just like your father!”
Added to the continuation of physical characteristics and personality traits throughout the generations are the values and lessons our families teach us that help to form our character. We learn the difference between right and wrong, we learn what is important and valued and we learn how to deal with the ups and downs of life from our parents and grandparents, aunts and uncles. Their stories inform our lives and help us to make decisions for ourselves.
Bette Lockwood had a lot to offer to her family. Not only did she pass on her physical characteristics such as her big smile and her pretty, smoky blue eyes, she also passed on her unique laugh, and sense of humour. Unfortunately, her thick and bouncy head of hair did not make it through to the next generation!
But most important, Bette held a litany of values, beliefs and traits that formed her most admirable character - one that her three granddaughters should know about and think about as they journey through their lives and start to make important choices for themselves.
So, this is written for you; Kenna, Julie and Lindsay.
Your grandmother was a wonderful woman who accomplished much in her life. You knew her as Grandma or Nana and you may fondly remember her as the one who played or did projects with you, walked with you and talked with you. You already know how special she was and how much you loved her, but as time goes on and you experience more of life for yourselves, you will understand more fully how remarkable she was.
I hope that I can relate to you today what I think were some of her most notable and laudable qualities.
Your Grandmother was forthright. She was no shrinking violet, rather she was feisty and she spoke her mind. She never hesitated to make her wishes or her opinion known, and she said exactly what she thought if you asked her, and often whether you wanted to hear from her or not!
This could have gotten her into trouble at times, because diplomacy was not her best thing, but everyone appreciated her honesty, intelligence and selfless perspective. And she almost always got it right.
Nana was hard-working, and never shied away from any project. She was never above any kind of work that had to be done and she worked as hard and as long as or longer than anyone else. Perhaps it was because she was born into a well-off family that lost everything and had to start over again during the Great Depression.
Maybe it was because she lost her parents when she was young, and she had to take care of herself. Whatever it was that taught her to be so disciplined, she always tackled her projects with energy and commitment and she would not quit until they were completed.
Not only was Bette capable and determined she was also very talented. She could sew as well as any tailor and made all of her own clothes, from suits to cocktail dresses, and she always looked beautiful in them. She took pride in her appearance and never looked sloppy or unkempt - even digging flower beds or raking leaves at the lake.
Aside from her talents as a seamstress, Bette could take on any project big or small and figure out how to get it done, even if that involved learning a new skill herself, which she did easily and in a matter of fact way. She was a can-do person.
Maybe it was because Bette lost her mom, dad and even her brother too early that she seemed to accumulate extra people along her life’s path. She adopted Charlie’s big family whole heartedly and she was the one who wrote and called, arranged the visits and sent the children their birthday and Christmas gifts without fail.
Obviously, everyone responded to her warmth because she had a revolving door on the house in Bel-Aire with assorted friends and relations visiting or living there as a matter of course. Family was everything to Bette.
Your Grandma had a servant’s heart. Through her volunteer work with the Y, the Mustard Seed, and the church, she cared for many. She looked after her ill parents, brother and grandmother and was devoted to supporting your grandpa, Charlie throughout their marriage and especially after Charlie had his stroke.
She was dedicated to her children, her grandchildren and in particular, she loved to spend time with and care for Fraser, her only grandson.
Bette did not care about the material things in life. Sure, she enjoyed trips, cars and her lovely home and all the advantages that the family had, but she would have been quite happy with a more modest lifestyle had that been her circumstance.
What was important to her were the people in her life and the simple pleasures of time with family and friends, her hobbies and spending time at Pine Lake - her favourite place on earth.
Bette was a loyal friend. She had so many groups of friends from all areas of her life, church, golf, the lake, neighbours, co-workers, fellow volunteers - you name it. She had a magnetic personality and she was fun to be around. She had a great sense of humour and laughed easily and often. Some of her friends were life-long and others of all ages came later, but I never heard her say she lost a friend. It seemed as though she made an effort to stay in touch with all of them near and far, young and old.
But the most important thing to know about your grandmother, and the thing that knits all of her qualities together is her strong and enduring faith in Jesus. Bette had an intimate relationship with the Lord her whole life long. She told me that her faith in Him was the only thing that got her through the tough times in her life, which despite outward appearances, were many.
She rejoiced in God’s blessings on her life and she walked with Him daily. She made Him a priority through her daily devotions and she was a perpetual student of His Word. Nana was not “religious” as some might think. She was not caught up in the traditions and trappings of the church. She was a Christian to the very core of her heart and she had the conviction of knowing where she would spend eternity - with the Lord.So, girls, know that you were blessed with a wonderful, gifted and caring grandmother who loved you all unconditionally. Remember her for the great lady that she was and learn from her example. Thank you all for listening.