My dear Grandma, Daisy Letitia Devine passed away on Monday at the age of 98.

She led quite the life. Here’s a little snippet of it, written by my mom for the obituary.

Born March 7, 1921, in Crawley, Sussex, England … A war widow, Daisy came to Canada on the Queen Mary in 1946. Once here, she met and married her second husband, who was the older brother of her first. Earl happily took over the care of his late brother’s son, and he and Daisy went on to have three more children. Though their life together was marked by family tragedy and difficult financial times, the atmosphere they provided for their four children was one filled with a great sense of security, acceptance and love. Daisy’s priority was always to family. She did manage two trips to England to visit with her family there, and enjoyed numerous visits from English relatives to Canada. She enjoyed gardening, and always wanted an English garden, like her granny’s, or at least a Canadian approximation of one. She was an avid reader, relishing novels, biographies, and books about Canadian and British history. She enjoyed watching curling on TV during winter and Toronto Blue Jays baseball games during summer. She never wanted to be thought of as British; she considered herself a Canadian, through and through. She managed to live independently, in the same home Earl built in 1952, well into her 98th year. Though shy and retiring by nature, for many years Daisy acted as Secretary in the Pontiac Historical Society.


There’s a lot more to the story, and thankfully I have that in print. Years ago, my mom and my stepfather interviewed my grandparents and compiled their stories into book form. This was a business of theirs at the time, but of course this one was done free of charge. As a result I own a roughly 400 page tome filled with their stories, pictures, and lots of nostalgia.

My love of junk may have been born in my grandma’s house. As a kid, my mom told tales of a closet filled with old things that hadn’t been seen in years, and that excited me greatly. My grandpa wasn’t at all interested in clearing it out, but my grandma was and we (my mom, grandma, and I) compromised by doing it slowly, in installments. There was a lot of junk in there, given that my grandparents were of that generation that didn’t throw much out, but inevitably there were things that sparked my imagination. My most memorable find was a WWII-era world map published by the CBC which portrayed the reach of the Axis forces as the tentacles of an octopus. I kept that map for many years, but unfortunately it disappeared at some point, perhaps during a move. I was able to find a similar one online, but it seems to be fairly scarce. I wish I still had the one we found together, but so it goes.

My grandma, around the time of the cleaning of the closet, with my grandpa and her sister

My grandma was part of the Greatest Generation, meaning she experienced the Great Depression and World War II. During the latter, she lived not far from London, and often saw German bombers on their way to bomb the city and dogfights between German and Allied planes. The Nazis were focused on London, but she learned what to do when the air raid sirens went off, and knew the sound of a V-2 bomb (from the book: “You could hear them coming – a sort of eerie singing – and you just prayed their singing didn’t stop, because once the motor cut out, it meant the bombs were going to drop, right there or someplace pretty close”). She met her first husband after he was stationed nearby. A member of the Cameron Highlanders, he died in 1944 from friendly fire during the battle of the Falaise Gap.

In her senior years, my grandma was somewhat of an anachronism. She never used a computer, the internet or a cell phone, and had no interest either. She loved reading, playing Scrabble and enjoyed watching the telly. She mostly kept to herself and loved her family. Outwardly, hers was a simple life, at least in the years I knew her. I can’t help but feel like my generation, and other generations have something to learn from hers, which is not to say that they didn’t have something to learn from us as well.

We exist in an age of distraction, and my generation in particular seems to be having a difficult time finding our way, struggling to define the meaning and purpose of our lives. My grandma didn’t have any issues with that, perhaps because she lived through poverty and war and death and saw first hand how fleeting it all can be. She valued her family, and she followed the Golden Rule. Maybe the meaning of life is as simple as that, especially if you’re flexible when defining what “family” really means.

At 98, her death is not surprising. I had hopes of her making it to 100, but I knew that was far from a guarantee. I’ve been preparing for this eventuality for some time, so I feel no sense of shock, but obviously I’m still sad that she’s gone. She’ll always have a place in my heart.



42 thoughts on “Daisy”

  1. What an inspiring blog post, Martin! 98 years old and still living independently! Hurrah that your family learned a lot about the details of her life. What a life! These sentences jumped out at me in particular —maybe because your grandmother used the phrase “eerie singing.” “(She) often saw German bombers on their way to bomb the city and dogfights between German and Allied planes… (and s)he learned what to do when the air raid sirens went off, and knew the sound of a V-2 bomb… ‘You could hear them coming – a sort of eerie singing – and you just prayed their singing didn’t stop, because once the motor cut out, it meant the bombs were going to drop, right there or someplace pretty close.'” Deep breath in. Deep breath out. May she rest in peace!!!

  2. My condolences on the passing of your grandmother.

    Thank you for sharing her story with us. I love the photograph of her in her coat and winter boots. She looks so vibrant in that moment with her whole life ahead of her. I also love her name: Daisy Devine.

  3. Lovely tribute. It sounds as if she died on her own terms and with the love and support of family–in other words, the way we’d all prefer to go. (And that story about the “secret closet” is intriguing.) My sympathy on your and your family’s loss.

  4. Martin, the love you have for your grandmother is apparent through your chosen words, so beautifully written and expressed. A loss to all x

  5. My heartfelt sympathy to you and your family on the loss of your grandma. How amazing that she lived independently for so long. The ladies who came to Canada from England after the war were so spunky. I can’t imagine going so far from home at a time when a visit home was neither simple nor guaranteed. It’s wonderful that you have such a detailed history of her life. Yes, you will feel a big loss. Hold those memories close.

  6. Lovely memorial words in honour of your beloved Grandma; thanks for sharing these memories.

  7. Thank you for sharing the story about your Grandmother. I am sorry for you and your family that she has passed but how wonderful that she lived so long and so independently to boot. You have a great gift for writing. I always enjoy your blogs, but this one is especially well-written, probably because it is written with such love.

  8. Beautiful tribute to your grandmother. My condolences to you and your family. You are very lucky to have that book with all her memories in it. I would love to have something like that from my family.
    Keep up the good work on saving treasures other people discard. It’s very interesting seeing what you find.

  9. Martin,
    Sincere condolences to you and your family on the passing of your dear grandma. Thank you for sharing a most beautiful tribute.

  10. What a wonderful tribute to your gran, Martin. So sorry for your loss..they don’t make them like that anymore 🙁 my mom was born 3 years after your Gran and not far from her either. She told us the same stories about the war, the bombs and the shelters. She also married a Canadian soldier and came to Canada in 46 on the Aquitania. She lived a life much like your Daisy..also, my Gran was named Daisy as well 🙂 . I’m sure your Daisy played a big part in your collecting and in the wonder of looking through old things. I’m sure you’ll treasure the memories of her all your life. Thanks for sharing her life with us. Again, my condolences to you and your family xxx

  11. I’m so sorry for your loss. Your grandmother sounds like a lovely lady, who went through things that would try anyone, but came through them regardless.
    My parents and siblings lived in Crawley when I was younger. It was probably in the early ‘60’s. It was a great place, 🙂

    Sending my condolences to you and your family.

  12. What a beautiful final tribute. Invictus, Daisy, and my condolences to you and your family.

  13. I’m so glad you departed from your normal posts and instead shared about your dear grandma. Your words gave me a glimpse into her life and gave me quite a lovely respite from some concerns. May the memories you have of Daisy become less bitter/sad and more sweet as time passes xoxo

  14. Martin, thank you so much for sharing your grandmother’s story. She lives on in your memory and in the memory of all those who loved her. Sounds like she had a great – and long – life, one that was lived well, and on her own terms. My sincere condolences for your loss.

  15. Condolences Martin. A life well lived. It is nice that you can honour her in this way. RIP Daisy.

  16. She sounds like she was an amazing woman. Thank you for sharing her story with us.

  17. Beautiful memories. And this explains a lot. People say that those of us who are collectors often collect our grandmother. I see that in you. And what a gift you give to all of us. Your blog is one of the ones I always look forward to reading.

    My deep sympathy to you on your loss, and yet, my deep thanks to Daisy for sparking your talent for the scavenger hunt. Look how many of us take pleasure in your passion and immense skill.

  18. This is a beautiful tribute to your grandmother. My deepest sympathy.

  19. Very moving story that shows your great love and affection for your grandma. I have a shelf in my kitchen that holds rolling pins, vintage mixing bowls. coffeepots and other everyday objects my parents, grandparent’s and great-grandparent’s used. It brings me back memories and comfort. I wish I also had a book like the one your family had the foresight to put together.

  20. Martin, my deepest thanks to you for posting this beautiful tribute. Today is the 28th anniversary of my mother’s death and, more than ever, I wish that I had questioned her and my grandmother about their lives, particularly their childhoods. I am pulling together a family history thanks to the Internet, but nothing can equal the wonderful immediacy of the “400 page tome filled with their stories, pictures, and lots of nostalgia” that must count among your most treasured possessions.

  21. My deepest condolences. I really enjoy reading your posts. It is great to read about your Grandmother. Being from and living In the UK it was lovely to read that you can take us out of England but our love of gardens always follow us 😊.

  22. what a wonderful woman. You were so fortunate to have her for a grandmother and for so long. My grandmother was also 98 when she died. That was 25 years ago and I miss here yet. My sympathies.

  23. You touched my heart with your words about your Grandmother. Thank you for sharing. You will miss her forever. I am of the same generation, having been born in 1932, so you really made me think of how lucky I am to be able to read your wonderful words. In 1955 the ship I was on (SS Homeric) docked next to the Queen Mary in South Hampton. What memories you have stirred up.

  24. What a tribute to your Grandmother. THANKYOU for your message of Love. LOVE your post

  25. Lovely tribute to your grandma
    She sounds like such a special woman who made a
    strong mark on your life.
    So sorry you’ve lost her but how fortunate you have
    her life and stories in book form

  26. I’m sorry for the loss of your beloved Grandma, she sounds like she was a great lady. What a treasure to have the stories of your Grandparents!

  27. You created a wonderful, meaningful and thoroughly heartfelt memorial to your grandmother, Martin. She would have been touched to know you dedicated a post in your most excellent blog, just to her. *hugs*

  28. I am sorry for your loss. Lovely words about your grandma, may she live on in your heart

  29. So very sorry for your loss, Martin. It is never easy even if we can prepare ourself somewhat in advance. She sounds like a remarkable woman. You were lucky to have such a relationship in your life and wise to have treasured it.

  30. So very sorry for the loss of your Grandmother. She sounds like an amazing woman. Thank you for sharing with us.
    Enjoy reading of your finds and history.

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