My Grandmother Lavinia Beeston
Lavinia Beeston, my maternal grandmother as I remember her
My maternal grandparents, Charles Parker Beeston (after whom my son Parker is named) and Lavinia Beeston (Walley) came to Canada in 1913 from the Potteries (the six towns where the china and pottery making industry concentrated.) The story goes that my grandfather was not successful in his father's hardware and construction business so in embarassment they moved to Canada. (My great grandfather, Charles Beeston, was a prosperous business man and the mayor of his town (either Stoke upon Trent or Newcastle-under-Lyme.) I must try to sort this out.)
When they came to Canada they left three of their children, an eldest son and two daughters, behind to be care for by "Aunt Jennie" until they got established. It took three years. My mother and one of my aunts were born in Canada.
I have no pictures of my grandmother as a young woman. If fact, the one above is the only one I have. I believe my sister has some of her younger. It is hard for me to imagine her as a young woman. It is even harder for me to imagine she had five children. For me she was always the little elderly proper Methodist lady who took the pledge at 18 and never drank alcohol all her life. While I consider myself politically quite radically left, and I love to be around interesting "different" kind of people, there is much in me that is conservative and conventional, mainly in the realm of the family and daily living.
I remember my grandmother as kind and gentle. She always had a few candy treats for us in her purse, in which their was alway a perfumed hankerchief. I can smell it still! Do any women carry hankerchiefs any more?
My grandmother new a lot about chinaware. You could not serve her tea without her finding an opportunity to turn the cup or saucer over to see what kind of china it was. "Made in England, it must be good."
I remember the death of my grandmother. I was 13. We woke up for school and my parents were not home. Very unusual!, a little frightening. When they came in my mother told us that Grandma had died. This was my first experience of a death of someone close to me. (The first of many) I was asked to be one of the pall bearers, which for me was a recognition of my more adult status.
My grandmother was the source of words of wisdom that I find myself using still. "A stitich in time saves nine." "A penny saved is a penny earned." " Take care of your pennies and your pounds will take care of themselves."
Being English she had some prejudices of the Irish who drank, enjoyed a good time, could confess their sins to make everything all right, were lazy, dirty, crude. . .the usual stuff". Unfortunately, I was too young to sort all this out and it has taken me years to shake off a lot of this. Reading a lot of Irish dramas and history helped.
The strangest thing my grandmother told me in my tender years was that, "When I feel down I should always remember that I am a member of the British Empire!!!" Even at the age of 12 or 13 I smiled and felt I should break out with a rendition of "Rule Britannia, Britannia rules the waves. . ." I was a second generation Canadian and felt admiration and respect for Britain, I felt no loyalty. I don't think she would have understood. And yet, I am a bit of a Royalist and like the institution of the Queen.
I have had these memories all these years to I guess they are important to me. I must tell my grandchildren more about her.