The Tears of a Clown

Now if there's a smile upon my face…

Beatrice Hall

Beatrice Hall, 1915-2008

This week marked my family’s final farewell to the head of our family as we paid our respects and showed our love at Beattie’s funeral. Beattie I should explain is my dear sister’s mother-in-law and gran to my two nephews. The dear lady passed away on January 2, and although this is inevitably a sad time for us all, this will be no solemn piece, nor shall it express regret. This is rather to express our love for Beattie and will be a celebration of her life and all the good things she brought into ours during her sprightly ninety-two years.

It occurred to me during the service that I first knew Beattie as young boy all of forty years ago. That’s an awful long time. Along the way I have received only kindness and caring from her. Indeed she leaves us all with only fond memories. That sentiment will be repeated by anybody that had the good fortune of meeting her.

Beattie was originally born and bred in Glasgow, formerly the ‘Second city of The Empire’, in one of the ‘better’ areas as she would chide us when we ribbed her good-naturedly about Glasgow’s seamier side. As a young woman she worked on the famous Sauchiehall Street in a dress store and enjoyed her life dancing and socialising. She would often tell me about her times visiting the nearby and legendary Willow Tea Room which still exists to this day. Beattie soon met he husband to be, Albert, who was stationed in Glasgow, before marrying and leaving to make a new life in Nottingham.

Beattie and her husband had a family of three sons. A remarkable family indeed as I can say without any sense of bias that the Hall family are easily the most happy it has been my pleasure to know, and know closely obviously. This is no mere coincidence but very much down to the wonderful mother that Beattie was, not forgetting her husband who was also a fine and extremely likable man. Undoubtedly teamwork was a big factor in the happiness in that home. That and love.

Two summers ago our family had the pleasure of taking a summer holiday together in Mallorca in a most attractive villa with it’s own grounds. The most pleasing thing was to see four generations having fun and relaxing together with Beattie doting on her beautiful great-granddaughter Niamh. I know that sight will remain in the memory of all of us and a very poignant one it is too. There was something very special about seeing Niamh with her ‘Grannie Beattie’.

Some time back I was charged with carrying out a University research project focusing on the subject of parenting and the feelings and development of children. Within this project was a requirement to initiate six interviews to gain views and opinions about the subject and analyse them before drawing up a report. Other students naturally pursued participants who were current parents of young children and so did I to some degree. However, the very first person on my list, with no thought whatsoever, was Beattie, then eighty-nine years old. Beattie kindly and cheerfully agreed to my request and I went along to her neat home to talk to her and record her words. Perhaps Beattie and I spoke for an hour. That hour was one of the most educational of my life but the message was a very simple one. I asked of her sentiments towards the subject of parenting and what the important factors were. She replied very simply and spoke of children,

“You have to give them as much love as possible”

I have never forgotten those simple words. Forget the psychology textbooks and forget the research, this was the real thing and I knew it most profoundly. I realised that this was what Beattie had been doing all her life – to everyone that came into her life. Suddenly things became a lot clearer to me and I thank her “from the bottom of my heart” as she would no doubt say for that lesson in life. I’d like to thank her also for always being a surrogate mum to me. She was always so saddened that I lost my mother all those years ago and seemed to share my loss in a very rare and sensitive way that I have seldom felt with others.

Beattie leaves us now but she leaves us with a legacy of love and caring which we, her family, and all who knew her will do well to remember – one of offering love unconditionally. We should honour her in that way I believe. Last Tuesday was the day we all said a nominal goodbye – until we see her next. I feel at least happy that she lived a life of freedom for the vast majority of it that she always wished for. My thoughts go to my my two nephews Simon and Nick who I was immensely proud of by their actions and dignity on the day. To Bridgette and Michelle too. Firstly they must be offered to Ian, her son and my brother-in-law, my sister, Anita and Beattie’s other remaining son, Eric and his family, now natives of British Columbia, Canada. A special thought goes to her loving son, Alan who sadly is no longer with us.

To all of you, I know that in your loss you will join me “from the bottom of your heart” in remembering how blessed we were to have this wonderful and dear lady in our lives. A woman who showed us how to love.

Sleep peacefully now, Beattie.

Stu

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January 18, 2008 - Posted by | I CAN HEAR MUSIC

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