Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Anne Griffith 1936 - 2013

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Anne regularly read my blog, an achievement in itself for me, as I only ever think a core of less than half a dozen people actually do read it, and I never realised Anne was one of them.

Unfortunately, after a diagnosis of Cancer late last year, Anne passed away peacefully in a wonderful and caring place, not far from her home in Javea (Spain),  a home she had made with her husband Huw for the past 15 years or so.

Anne was Peter's mother.

We attended Anne's funeral in Spain last week, along with Peter's two step-sisters, and to our comfort and joy on that sad day, along with many of Anne & Huw's friends, that they have made since moving to Spain so long ago.

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In conversation later, Huw mentioned that I had not been keeping my blog up to date, and I asked if, to kick start it again, I could start with a copy of my part of the Eulogy, that I read at the funeral, and he said by all means. So here it is, my words for a woman I grew to love.

"Although I had met Anne & Huw on previous occasions, I like to think that the first time I actually met my "in-laws", was when Anne & Huw came to visit Peter for his 30th birthday, and where he was going to tell them about our relationship.

You can imagine, I was understandably nervous, and to be honest, I remember very little of the day itself, but for one moment, which will stay with me forever.... at the very end of the evening, just as we where saying our goodbye's, Anne gave me a hug and a kiss, and looking me straight in the eye, kissed me again and said "Welcome to the family".

Not long after that I was invited down to the family home in Axbridge, to stay for Christmas. 
Peter had already gone down a few days earlier, and so I found myself on a bright, crisp and very frosty Boxing Day morning, motoring on down through the Somerset countryside, wondering, with a little trepidation, what the next few days with the family would be like.

I need not have worried.... 
.......as from the moment I stepped through the front door, I was enveloped into the warm and welcoming embrace of a family at home.

There were gifts to be exchanged and opened, Champagne to be drunk, dogs to be petted and fussed with, lunch to be prepared, guests to arrive, tables to be laid and lunch to finally be served....

...... And throughout all this jovial chaos and merriment, Anne sailed her ship, acquiescing here to a suggestion, making sure something else was 'just so', and more often than not, delegating by stealth..  such as "Peter.. Darling.. would you be a dear, and sort out the gravy, as you do it so well".. who could refuse?

All this until such time that she could sit back, look around her dinner table, and take pleasure in the happy and replete family and  friends, secure in the knowledge that her, and Huw's, hospitality had been well rewarded.

When it came to her work, Anne applied the same love, care and attention.  From the very beginnings of teacher Training college in Bath, to all her years teaching Drama, and in time, many other subjects on the curriculum of the day.

Anne always said she had taught every age, from 2 to 92 year olds, and this was particularly true, when, after many years teaching, Anne moved on to take up her role as Co-Ordinator for Adult Literacy for the county. 

All this experience led her to devoting further periods of her time to work teaching Vietnamese Refugees, that had settled in the county, and even more time working with Youth Training.

And then, if this was not enough, there was the total immersion in life in Axbridge.

In her time there, she was Chair of the Town Trust, she also found time to be the Chair of the Board of Governors for the local Primary School, and Anne also became the founding Secretary of the Friends of Houlgate Society, which was the local twinning group for Axbridge's sister town, Houlgate in France.

.... Take all this, then add in the fact that she also Produced the town Nativity plays each year, and you get the impression that Anne's calendar was pretty full. Then I haven't yet mentioned that she also produced the Historical Town Pageant...

... Performed every ten years, with a cast of hundreds, and with two years in the preparation and planning of each one, Anne managed to produce the Pageant three times, 1970, 1980, and 1990.

And then.... beyond everything else, Anne still managed to maintain her deep and unwavering love of her Husband, Huw, her 5 children; Hannah, Rachel, Peter, Jonathan and William, and then her friends and ever increasing social circle, and possibly, the odd dinner party or two!

Inevitably, there came a realisation that some day, Anne would eventually hand over the reigns of all these events and projects, and her family and friends knew that Anne & Huw would finally bid Axbridge "Au Revoir" .... and head for "La belle Francais"...

...... or so we thought!

Before I hand over to Rod, who will talk about Anne's life with Huw, here in Javea, we all recognise today that we say goodbye to a wife, a mother and a friend. On a very personal note, I will be saying goodbye to my mother-in-law, and where there will be an empty space in my life, which should be filled by Anne, I am happy in the knowledge that there is a warmth and depth of love left with me that will stay with me forever, because I am part of this family."

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Thank you to everyone for all their wishes and thoughts. We are still surrounded by family and wonderful friends, I wouldn't change any of them for the world. 

The new header picture and the pictures in this post, are from Javea.

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  1. Dear Andrew,
    You did precisely what a eulogy should do. You paid homage to a woman you loved, painted a vivid portrait of her life and, even as you bade farewell, allowed everyone to learn a little more about her.
    I never met Peter's mother, but thanks to your words and Huw's permission I sincerely wish I had.

    Please accept our deepest sympathies. Thank you for sharing this beautiful eulogy with us.
    Clearly, Anne's many gifts live on not only in Peter but in her son-in-law as well.
    Lee and Chuck

  2. Aaaahh Roo, what a beautiful tribute to Anne! You and Peter were so in my thoughts last week... Anne sounded like a wonderful lady and your tribute to her was beautiful. I'm sure she'll hold a very special place in your hearts forever. It doesn't matter at what stage of life one has to say goodbye, it always comes too soon. Especially with our parents - we only just start to understand life and really appreciate them and then they're taken away from us!! I'm glad that Anne accepted you so warmly into her family and SO pleased that Peter has such an incredible husband to comfort him through this time. Thinking of you, Peter and Huw and hope that you find comfort in knowing that you are in our thoughts all the time.

    Sending much love
    Sue XXX

  3. Hi Andrew and Peter! You may or may not remember me - but I was a very close friend of Anne's (in fact we met back in 1980.... a long, long time ago!). Peter and I (Nicholson) would like to pass on our very sincere condolences at the very sad loss of Anne - who was quite simply a formidable person.

    I was in regular contact with Huw in the months leading up to her death, but was absolutely devastated to learn last week of her passing. We'd been away for a few weeks and sadly Huw thought he had told us but obviously things must have been terribly busy and difficult for him.... and we were forgotten.

    I have wonderful, wonderful memories of Anne - who never failed to make me laugh! Over the 30+ years of friendship, we shared many things - and I know she was absolutely devoted to you, Peter, and Jonathan. We last saw A & H when they came back to Axbridge to bury Jonathan's ashes and although it was obviously a terribly sad visit for them, we still managed to have a lovely evening here in Cross, eating crab sandwiches, drinking champagne and reminiscing...

    Sorry to hog your blog Andrew! But I really, really wanted to get in touch with you both to pass on our condolences and this seemed a good way to do so - Anyway, please keep in touch - and next time you are in Axbridge, it would be absolutely lovely to see you both (we can also eat crab sandwiches and drink champagne and remember Anne, who was such a sweet and lovely person!)
    Lots of love to you both from us both (and twins James & Sarah)xxxx

  4. Hi Miranda

    So glad you left a comment, and Peter asked me to say thanks for all your kind words. I know at some point we will be interring Anne's ashes with JJ and her father, so it would be wonderful to get in touch then. Feel free to drop me an email at jackcloudie@gmail.com, and we can arrange to meet up next time we are down as I think Crab Sandwiches and Champagne sounds like a brilliant idea!

    All our best, lots of love, Peter & Andrew xx