Friday, March 8, 2013

This week we said goodbye to Gramma Winnie Cragg. She would have been 94 years old this April, and she embodied a class of women reminiscent of the lovely Audrey Hepburn. While saddened by the loss and idea that she will no longer be gracing us with her sweetness, we celebrate a life spanning two continents, children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. Her story was an incredible one before she travelled to Canada from England after WWII. But her experiences never dampened her spirits.

Her sharp wit (lucid until the end!) and easily accommodating demeanor leaves us a legacy with which to aspire to. One of her nieces said at her funeral that "Winnie could have written the book on how to make friends." It's so true. She was always one to ask about what was going on in everyone else's life. She would only talk about herself if she was asked questions. Otherwise, she was all about making sure other people in the room felt they were acknowledged and made to feel welcome. In fact, she and her husband, the late Grampa Leslie Cragg, were the first in my husband's family to make me feel truly welcome nearly 20 years ago. They instantly made me feel as though I mattered, asking me questions about my travels, family, culture, interests, education, etc. They were never meddling questions. On the contrary, they made me feel as though I was extraordinary. They found commonalities and connected with me. They bravely held our pre-wedding reception at their home, and it was full of hearty laughter, music, and love.

Gramma has me thinking of all that made her classy. It was more than making sure she had her hair done regularly. She had it done weekly, in fact, and made sure to have a head covering to keep it from various environmental elements. She even had it done the week before she passed away! I discovered last night from my husband and brother-in-law that she taped her hair at night to keep it in place! I didn't even know that was a "thing." Taping hair!

The modest care she took in herself was admirable, and she has me thinking about my own grooming techniques...or lack thereof. Sure, I'm clean. I eat well and exercise. But I'm usually clad in worn out shoes, tousled hair either up in a careless bun or loose in a frizzy maze, t-shirts and jeans or cargo pants, over-sized sweaters, unpolished nails...I always go for comfort and assume that anything other than what I'm used to would be less than comfortable. But where did I get that idea? It's not true at all. Sure, some people dress up and are obviously uncomfortable, tugging at too-tight dresses and pulling up too-low pants. But Gramma brought an ease to it. Come to think of it, my mother has that same classy look, always looking amazing in all that she dons. Alas, that is a blog for another day...

So, here I am on International Women's Day and thinking about the women in my life, both past and present, who epitomize grace and true beauty. Gramma was a woman of grace and class, in mannerisms and character. Because of her, I will remember to care a bit more about the whole package (exterior as well as interior). She was an incredible woman, and after 94 years, she is a symbol of how we should cherish triumphs rather than wallow in defeats.

Goodbye, Gramma. We all take comfort that you are resting in peace with your beloved.


  1. You brought a tear to my eye (yes another one) after reading your incredible post. Everything you said is so true but hearing your impressions of mom from your point of view made me feel even more grateful that we had her in our life for such a long time. I hope you cherish your time with your mom as much as I did with mine. Thanks Yvonne.

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