Good afternoon everyone. My name is Allegra Sloman, and I feel very honoured to be asked to say a few words about my grandmother Evelyn, whose life we celebrate today. She was, by any standard of measure, a truly remarkable woman.
Sometimes the simplest words say it best; to quote my cousin Alex, Evelyn’s life was a long life, well lived. In a world full of people who complain, Evelyn counted her blessings and made the best of every situation. In a world full of people who don’t know what’s best for themselves, she chose a life partner, her beloved Denny, who loved her and supported her through all of the joys and challenges of married life. In a world full of people who are lazy and easily bored, she never stopped working, whether to make a beautiful and loving home, to pursue her many interests and hobbies, or to work for pay. At the end of her life, she was still working; I am grateful for and humbled by her example, as she bore the indignities and alarms of old age with astonishing fortitude and good humour.
The one regret of her life, as recorded in the stories she told to her daughter in law Roberta a decade ago, was that she and her family had not put together enough money to send her mother, who had emigrated from England, back home for a visit. Many of us have regrets for things we should have done, or not done, but it was entirely typical of Evelyn that her biggest regret was about not making a sacrifice for a family member. Her compassion and consideration for others was natural, and spontaneous, and a gift to any room she walked into.
Evelyn is survived by her son Garry, his wife Diane, and their son, Greg, his wife Tracey and their two boys Kaiden and Keegan; her son David and his wife Roberta, their two children, being myself and my brother Jeff, and my children Keith and Kathryn.
When I think of my Granny, I think of her chocolate cake with vanilla icing, which she made for my birthday a few years back. I think of the exquisite doll clothes she made for me when I was little, and the birthday cheques she was still sending me as recently as this past November. I always wrote her a thank you letter to tell her I would spend it foolishly.
While I was working on this eulogy, I remembered my recent interview with an elder of my church. He said, “I’m sure you’ve been to a funeral where they talk about the deceased in such a way that you think, Well that’s not the person I knew.” By which he meant that the good qualities were praised and any flaws were discreetly omitted. But nothing I say can really approach Evelyn’s goodness, which was not about any theories or philosophy. Her goodness had everything to do with being intelligent and using her intelligence to be of loving service to others. Evelyn Rivett did everything in her power to make the world a better place, not for people far away, but for the important people in her life; her husband and children, her friends and family, her co-workers and team-mates. Her goodness was of a most practical and useful kind, and the world I live in is a better place because of it.
In the whole time I knew my grandmother, I never heard her say an unkind word about anyone. I overheard her say about a relative, “He and I never did get along.” It wasn’t until later that I found out that this relative had stolen her engagement ring. Instead of saying something snide, or carrying tales, she made her feelings plain without saying anything unchristian.
We miss her, and we’re going to keep missing her, each in our own way. I hope that in our grief, we can find the energy to preserve her memory by being more loving and gentle with each other. She wouldn’t have wanted a big fuss to be made over her, so that’s pretty much all I need to say, as I would like it if everyone who wants to speak about her could have that opportunity today.
I’d like to thank the Cedars for hosting her memorial today, thus allowing as many of her friends as possible to attend. I would also like to thank all the staff for their friendship, and their attentive care of Evelyn in her last years.
Thank you for coming today. Your presence is a gift to all of us.