Diamonds and Pearl (Tribute to grandma)

On October 11, she would’ve been 90

I usually keep the content in The Weekly Wanderer light and fun. Although, I do touch on serious—and political—issues from time to time. This is one of those times. Today, I want to share a story of Ethel Pearl Feltham (that is, my grandma), who passed away on September 2, 2017.

Many of family members called her Pearl; this was her middle name, but easier to pronounce. My cousins and I knew her as grandma; my father and my uncles knew her as mom. I knew her as my “second mom.”

From birth, my brother was ill, on the brink of death. My parents were always at the hospital, praying that my brother would last another day (He pulled through thanks to the healing powers of God). During this difficult time, I stayed with my grandmother.

Grandma spent a lot of time with me. We routinely went to the local library to throw bread to ducks at a nearby pond. She took me to the mall, grocery store and crocheted little clothes for my He-Man toys. From time to time, she snuck a five or $20 bill into my pocket, whispering those precious words, “Don’t tell your mother.” My grandmother laughed when I told corny jokes and did something silly.

I routinely stayed at my grandparents at Christmas, March Break, and Easter. I always enjoyed myself while visiting.

As a kid, I wanted my grandmother to live long enough to attend my wedding. She did. She witnessed Jodi and I exchange vows in 2010.

Pearl was ”grandma” to my cousins and me, but to others she was more. She was daughter and sister, born in Gooseberry Islands in Newfoundland, with eight brothers and sisters. Pearl was a devoted wife to my grandpa, Fred, and a loving mother to my father, Chesley, and my two uncles, Eugene and Merle. She was also mother-in-law to my mom, Debbie and my aunt, Lillian.

Pearl received blessings and was a blessing to anyone who knew her. She was a strong woman, someone who stood her ground, no matter what life threw at her. This toughness came from living a hard life, from birth until death.

Unfortunately, she was too familiar with family tragedy. She lost her father when she was 10 years old to tuberculous. Later, when she married my grandfather, she lost her first two children as well.

She faced many difficult health issues, before there was any healthcare, surviving 30 operations.

Grandpa was away from home for months at a time, working hard to provide for his family. So, grandma stepped up as a loving wife and mother, to take care of her three children. She helped grandpa make ends meet by taking in borders. She cooked for them and even did their laundry.

Besides being a selfless mother, she was a devoted wife. She always took great care of grandpa—even in his later years. When grandpa was suffering with emphysema, she took care of him, even though she had health issues of her own.

Grandma has given me many great memories over the years. I remember her famous chicken. Absolutely delicious. When I was young, grandma encouraged me to “stick my fingers in the cake,” much to my mom’s dismay.

Grandma loved to crochet. She made blankets, pillow covers, and doilies, giving her finished craft to her family. When I was young, she made a beautifully crocheted blanket just for me. Now, it’s old and tattered, but I still own this cherished relic.

She had a thick Newfie accent. Grandma articulated words in a very interesting way: “vallilla” for vanilla, and “monotony” for Monopoly. I loved telling my friends about her way with words.

In recent years, it became harder to visit grandma. It was painful to see that loving grandmother, great grandmother, and aunt slowly fade away. What hurt me the most was that I had to tell her I got married, every time I visited her.

Today, the hallowed halls of grandma and grandpa’s condo has become a precious museum. It’s a place filled with photos on the walls. I can’t walk into that condo without feeling choked up of a place I used to know. I’m very thankful to my Uncle Merle, who took care of grandma in her final years.

To my family, now we hurt. We feel this way because Pearl loved us; she appreciated us greatly. We hurt because she made her family top priority. Pearl has left this world, but she’s not gone. We’ll see her again, without pain, without disappointment. She’s with God, in his light, in ultimate happiness, complete with memories and love. It is her turn to be loved unconditionally, without any strings attached. iT!

4 thoughts on “Diamonds and Pearl (Tribute to grandma)

  1. A beautiful, loving tribute to a very caring, funny, compassionate lady. Love from Harold (Aunt Pearl’s nephew) and wife Joan in Marystown, Newfoundland.

  2. Phil that was a beautiful tribute to Aunt Pearl to me but grandma to you .She was a beautiful lady inside and outward .Cherish her memories they will live in your heart forever ,I know that we didn’t see her for a long time but will sure miss her

  3. I’m sorry for your family’s loss Phill. I didn’t know your Grandma but I feel I got a glimpse into her life with your lovely tribute. I’m so glad your family had this generous woman to love you all.

    1. Philip…a wonderful tribute to a most wonderful grandma….aunt pearl to me…my mother’s sister….I can relate to most of what you wrote….She was my aunt…but also …a good friend….A bunch of us would hang out and party with aunt pearl and uncle Fred back in the day!! lots of great memories!! truly one of my favourite aunts …I loved her she will always be in my heart……thank you Philip …. She loved you very much…..RIP Aunt Pearl…truly a beautiful Angel!!

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