Monday, 1 February 2016

A Tribute to Hope Cross

One of the hardest things about living in Zambia is being so far away from friends and family and missing important events. Today is one of those days for me. It's my lovely Nan's funeral. So I'm thinking of my family today as they gather to celebrate Hope Cross and a life well lived.

My sister Rhi has written a tribute to read on behalf of us three Cross sisters. It conveys some of our memories of Nan which I would like to share in tribute to her.

Nan & Grandad with seven of their eight grandchildren

There are many things we will remember about Hope. She had a way of making every person she spoke to feel like they were most important person in the world to her. She also had a great ability to find beauty in the smallest things.

The first time Nan and I met

Hope was one of the funniest people we knew. Even when her dementia had advanced and there was lots she couldn’t remember, her quick wit was still fully intact. She had an uncanny ability to drop jokes into conversation, and she often had us in stitches.

'Love and Laugh' was Nan' and Grandad's motto

Hope was the most positive person we have known. When asked how she was, she would always respond with a cheerful ‘I’m fine!’ even during the most difficult times. She once told us that when she was a young woman she decided not to say a bad word about anyone, so from then on she didn’t. She would interrupt strangers in restaurants or on the street to compliment them, and would give money to crying children to cheer them up. She unashamedly loved everyone that she came into contact with.

I loved being spoiled when I went to stay at Nan and Grandad's

Hope was a lot of fun. As grandchildren we would always want to visit her, no matter how old we got. We never felt that we were ‘too cool’ to spend time with her. In fact as we got older we realised that she, who at 89 came shopping with us at Dorothy Perkins and Topshop, was in fact much cooler than us.

Shopping with Nan
Hope was always tidy. She kept everything clean and in its place. She kept kitchen roll manufacturers in business by using it with every cup, plate and saucer, and another piece was always kept up her sleeve. She would clean before the cleaner arrived, and wipe down tables when she was leaving a café or restaurant. She would insist on combing my hair if she thought it was too messy, and would always look immaculate before stepping out the front door.

Nan and Grandad with my Dad at my parents' wedding

Hope was in love; Kenneth was the love of her life. After 65 years of marriage they were still very loved up and were often seen holding hands or affectionately teasing each other. Ken once said that Hope was “too good for this life”, a sentiment understood by all who knew her.

Hope & Ken

Hope had a faith. She loved Jesus. She talked about him and to him often. She prayed for each of her children, children in-law and grandchildren by name every day. She never missed an opportunity to thank him, and when saying goodbye to someone she would always add a “God bless”. Through grief, illness and frailty, her love for and faithfulness to her Lord were always evident.

Nan was always cheerful, even in hospital

Hope is an inspiration. When we look at her life and the legacy that she left behind her, we cannot help but be inspired. Anyone who knew her and loved her wanted to be like her. Life without Hope in it is hard to imagine. But we strive to become more like her by being kinder, more thankful and generous, and by complaining less, and therefore by doing so we bring a little more Hope to the world.

Nan and Grandad

I am really grateful that I was able to see Nan several times when I was back in the UK in December. The last time I saw her, she was on form. Despite being so sick and frail, her humour and cheerfulness were contagious, which was so typical of her. She made the ordinary extraordinary.

When I was interviewed for my previous job as Head of School, some of the children had an opportunity to ask me questions. 'Who is your hero?' they wanted to know. I imagine they expected me to say a well-known historical figure or a superhero, but immediately I said Nan! Her character and attitude towards others is something that has both inspired and challenged me. I know she would absolutely adore the children and all the people that I'm working with here in Zambia. Her faith in Jesus and the compassion she modelled set an example to me, and is something that has prompted me to get involved in the work I'm doing here.

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