Quite often, we are reminded that our elders are like priceless treasures who hold the secrets to life. With years of experience and knowledge, we turn to them and rely on their counsel, and jokingly but sincerely ask, “What’s the secret to a long life?”.
Well, the lone, most obvious, and true answer to that question is our creator Himself. As faith-filled Catholics, this answer should be enough, but as the mere humans that we are, a list or clear roadmap would surely be beneficial to help us along. You’d be pleased to know that this roadmap does exist, and it lies in the lives of precious gems such as my grandmother, Eugenia Blizzard.
‘Grandma’, who turned 100 on March 27, 2021, celebrated this milestone at Holy Mass on Palm Sunday at the Lady of All Nations RC Church, D’Abadie where she is a parishioner. Her life stands as a testimony of faith, family, and fulfilment.
Grandma and Grandpa Samuel were married for 53 years and he predeceased her 21 years ago. Together they raised seven children in the Catholic faith, despite grandpa’s being a practising Methodist.
Faith stood at utmost importance in the Blizzard household. Her Catholic faith was always a priority in her life, and this she imparted to her children. She led by example as she not only attended Mass weekly but devoted her time and God-given talents to several church ministries.
Eugenia sang in the Cathedral choir under the choirmaster Prof Alan Carr and was once an active member of the Society of St Vincent de Paul, the Cathedral Prayer Group, the Eternal Light Community, and the Legion of Mary.
These examples of service were evidently learnt by her children, and passed on to her grandchildren, as they too are active members of the Church. Even today, she continues to show devotion though the pandemic has forced her to attend Mass virtually.
Family, the second secret to the roadmap, was a priority. Raising seven children was no easy feat, but she did it with grace and love. Five girls and two boys kept her and Grandpa busy. She created a home filled with love and laughter.
The tightly knit unit can recall several sacrifices ‘Ma’ made possible to ensure they were healthy and happy. She embodied the words ‘mother’ and ‘wife’ and offered her best self to support and take care of the home she created.
It was therefore no surprise that she slipped so perfectly into the role of grandmother the moment her first came into the world. Even today Ma, who spends her time reading the dailies to keep up with world events, enjoys regaling her grandchildren with tales of the good ole days.
The last piece rests in words you would have probably heard spoken to you at least once in your lifetime: ‘Live life to the fullest’. The one life we were given by God was meant to be enjoyed. He wants to see His children happy, doing things they love that brings them fulfilment and Grandma made sure of this.
In her younger days, she was a passionate dancer who recalls many a night showing off her skills, dancing the night away at dances at the Princess Building. This was where she would come to meet her love, Samuel.
She also had a passion for travel but sacrificed this as her family was priority. Only when her children became adults, she indulged in this passion and visited places such as Lourdes, Medjugorje, Mexico, London, New York, and some Caribbean islands.
Many would deduce that someone has lived a ‘full life’ because of their age, but in fact, fullness is the way in which one chose to live this life. The secrets lived and experienced by Grandma reminds us that in this life, we are the authors, writing our stories for the generation to follow to take example from.
Let this celebration of 100 years help us to always ask ourselves the questions: ‘What are we doing with time God has given us?’: ‘What do we want our story to look like should we be gifted with 100 years?’: ‘What lessons and examples do we want to leave behind no matter when God is ready for us.’
Grandma has and continues to teach us to love fiercely and unconditionally, live intentionally and passionately, and most importantly, serve the Lord our God who gave us this life with every fibre of our being.
Cheers to 100, Grandma! May God continue to show you favour and may His face shine upon you and be gracious to you.
—Amanda Bertrand, granddaughter