Thursday, January 25, 2007

Molly Phillips (1909-2006)

On December 1st, 2006 my grandma died. Molly Phillips was 97 and she died a good death. My uncle and aunt were able to be there and it wasn't drawn out or painful. Her health had been deteriorating for the last few years but for over 90 years she lived an amazing life. She was born in the China, returned as a missionary in the thirties and then returned 26 times in the '70s, '80s and '90s. She was president of the Canadian Chinese Friendship Association and every year for a time she would travel across Canada giving talks and meeting with local groups. I was living in southern Ontario at the time and we'd get together for a visit. One year she came to Hamilton and stayed with me.

My grandma played a big role in my coming to faith as a teenage. Never underestimate the influence a grandmother can have on her grandchildren when she knows how to tell Bible stories well. Nonetheless we couldn't have been more different theologically. Grandma was rooted in the social gospel and was thoroughly United Church in her ecclesiology and liturgical tastes. She couldn't understand how I could stand being an Anglican. She couldn't understand how anyone could put up with bishops and repeating the same prayers every week.

Grandma also encouraged me in my studies. She flew out to Winnipeg for my BA graduation and was always interested in what I was doing. She had gone to university and studied theology and then English and spent most of her life working as an English teacher.

I was fortunate to be able to go to Victoria for her memorial service and see family I haven't seen in years. My cousin, who has been living in exile in Florida, was able to come too despite snow in the States and wind on the coast. She just sent me a copy of Grandma's graduation photo - here it is:

Rest eternal grant unto her, O Lord.
And let light perpetual shine upon her.

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