Thursday, February 09, 2012

Granny Jean

Life has been a bit of a blur these last few weeks, and what has happened still hasn't really sunk in. On Monday 30th January 2012, after one week in hospital, my Granny Jane McMurray, passed from this world into the joy of her Master.

Jane Hunter, known as Jean to just about everyone, was born at 'The Pole', Macadam's Crossroads in Drummiller, Dromore in April 1927 to John and Sarah Jane Hunter, one of five children - Bella, Billy, Rebecca and Ronnie. Granny worked as a stitcher, mostly in Belfast, but also in Dromore, most recently at Warners, from which she retired in 1987.

Jane met Francis McMurray of Dromore, and they were presently married:

At first, granny and granda continued to live at The Pole with the Hunters, before moving into Maypole Park, and eventually Churchview. Jackie and Yvonne were born, yet in the days after granny died, I discovered that there was unmentioned sorrow and pain in granny's life. Three other daughters were born and died within their first year of life - something I had never known about or ever heard mentioned until we were preparing the information for the tribute.

Granny had endured a lot, also having lost her right eye (with several explanations of what had happened so I'm not quite sure). Yet despite these sorrows, as well as the death of granda McMurray in 1988, granny continued to be lively, full of fun, kind, generous, dedicated, committed, and altogether lovely.

I will never forget the day when we were playing outside on our bikes and granny decided she would have a go on mine. Off she set for a quick lap of Churchview, to the bemusement and delight of Neil and me (and possibly Paul and Mark) - granny on a bike at about the age of 70!

There are so many memories that flood back, as stories were shared and moments recollected that had long been forgotten. When we were wee, the four grandchildren all went to their house for Sunday lunch after Sunday School and church, and what we had for lunch, every Sunday without fail, was 'stewed bugs and onions' - or mince and onions as you might know it. Granny's kitchen was a virtual playground with the stools imagined to be buses or cars or whatever and the table a mysterious tunnel. But the best thing about granny's kitchen was her home baking. A family friend always loved Aunt Jean's Jelly Rings, while there were pavlovas and my personal favourite, the wee pancakes fresh off the griddle.

Granny was baptised, confirmed, married and buried in Dromore Cathedral, and she gave herself in the parish in so many ways. Not so long ago, she received a certificate recognising her fifty years of membership of the Mothers' Union; she also helped at the Clayton Hall Communions, went to Bible study, helped at the Autumn Fair and other catering occasions, and played some bowls. As the Rector, Stephen Lowry said, granny was at church as often as the clergy, morning and evening for so many years.

Sunday afternoons for many years saw my wee car travel the highways and byways of the country, joined by mum and dad sometimes, but every time by granny, as we explored all around us, enjoying conversation and the views. At that time, granny was delighted to hear that I'd been accepted for training at college, with the constant question - will I ever see you ordained?

Granny made it to see me ordained,

and married.

With full determination, she even made it to our new house in Brookeborough, all those miles, to attend my Institution in Aghavea.

Granny's death, so sudden and unexpected, has been very sad. I've lost my last grandparent, and we'll no longer have granny around to call in and see or to phone up. The house will soon be cleared and returned to the Housing Executive for someone else to move in. Things will never be the same again.

Yet it's not all sad. Mixed with the tears of the last fortnight there have been laughs, and beneath all, a sure and certain confidence that we know where granny is now. No longer is she weakened by her Parkinsons and associated ailments; no more does she bear those sorrows and pains; never again will she be sorely tried by temptation.

Granny is with the Lord Jesus, in his safe keeping, already enjoying the bliss of Paradise as she waits for the resurrection and is given her new, perfect body. We know she is there, not because she was good (she wasn't) or perfect (she wasn't) or holy (she wasn't). We know she is there because she acknowledged her sin and trusted in the Saviour. From that moment on, she lived for the Lord Jesus, and not for herself, witnessing in words and ways to the saving power of Jesus.

I can still remember the nights we stayed over in granny's. Neil and me in a single bed (it wouldn't happen now - there wouldn't be room!) with the plastic bottle filled with hot water to warm the bed (a health and safety nightmare!). Granny would go to bed, but before she got in, would kneel and pray for a long time.

It's hard to say goodbye. Seeing granny in her last days in the hospital with wires and tubes and oxygen was difficult to watch as she laboured for breath. It looked as if death was winning. Death claimed another victory. But it's not the end of the story. Jesus lives, and granny lives with him, and one day she will receive her new body. No more sorrow. No more pain. No more tears. Life forever. This was granny's hope, and is ours too. We shall meet again and shall never again be separated.


  1. I'm so sorry to hear about your Granny. She sounds like a remarkable woman and very cool Granny.

  2. Gary, a special lady I had the joy of knowing. I'm glad you have a gift for expressing your love for her so well. It is a comfort I'm sure. God bless. MrsMcF