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Jan-07-2010 16:27printcomments

Loving Memories of Nan

Elizabeth Kucinich's Moving Tribute to Her Beloved Nan.

Elizabeth Joyce Cosser and Elizabeth Kucinich
Photos of Elizabeth Joyce Cosser and Elizabeth Kucinich courtesy: Dennis Kucinich

(WASHINGTON D.C.) - My cherished Grandmother, Elizabeth Joyce Cosser, whom I love with all my heart, passed away peacefully in her sleep at our family's home in Upminster in the early hours of Saturday morning, 2nd January 2010, after celebrating Christmas and the New Year with us.

Born in Nottinghamshire in 1923, as a youngster her family moved to Blackcap Farm on the South Downs in England, where she grew up a real country girl. The farm was eventually taken over by Canadian troops in WWII and destroyed in target practice.

Nan however had a luckier fate as she survived the 'blitz' working as a nurse in hospitals in Brighton and the East End during the heavy bombing, only once venturing into an air raid shelter, on the first day of the war. After the war, Nan became a community midwife and delivered 1265 babies, including me.

An environmental inspiration, Nan spent her free time planting trees. Some of my fondest childhood memories are of us ambling through the woods with the dogs, filling our pockets with a bounty of fallen acorns and chestnuts, buckeyes and hazels then walking along sparse country lanes and country paths in Essex, Nan pressing her walking stick into the ground so I could drop in a chestnut or an acorn every five paces; revisiting months later to see our seedlings grow. Nan planted thousands of trees in this way which have now grown into thick wooded areas.

Nan's funeral will be held at the South Essex
Crematorium in Upminster on Monday January 11th at
10:40am. I hope that those of you who are able will join
our family in celebration of my grandmother's life.

In 1998, she bought her own memorial bench and had it installed in Belhus Woods. "I want to enjoy my memorial bench now! It's no good to me when I'm dead", she said when she first had the idea. Etched with images of all our family dogs, Dora, Jet, William, Ruth and Holly, the only reference to Nan was the inscription which read, "Ever Joyful Companions" alluding to her initials, EJC.

Most memories of Nan are a mix of outdoor wanderings and food. We would often pick wild blackberries and elderberries from the hedgerows, Nan's hands purple with juice and raw with scratches; we picked cherries, apples, greengages, plums and apricots from my parent's garden and strawberries from local fields, after which we would make jam, crumbles, pies and wine and when I was older, vodka liquor.

In the evenings, my sister, Verity and I would gorge ourselves as Nan sat in her chair by the fire peeling and sharing out pears from the garden which had been wrapped in newspaper and stored in a cardboard box until their flavour and ripeness had reached a heavenly perfection. It was wonderful to grow up so close to nature and so close to my Nan.

I acquired my love of painting and needlework from Nan, who, as a dexterous artist, could turn her hand to any medium. An avid reader, historian and potter, Nan researched all the kings and queens of Britain dating back 1,000 years and embarked on a creative journey making a remarkable series of pottery busts detailing each of them. An intrepid traveller Nan visited dozens of countries and embroidered scenes from her travels around the world, painted flowers and nature scenes and occasionally knitted the most remarkable artistic creations for my sister and me.

Shortly after she retired in 1983, Nan discovered a derelict well on the grounds of our thousand year old village church in North Ockendon, which she learned was used by Saint Cedd to baptize pilgrims on their journey to the holy city of Canterbury.

She put a new roof on the well and made pottery plaques detailing its history. Once restored, she created a garden around it which was her pride and joy for many years. Nan planted a fig tree and plum trees which yielded delicious fruit, together with all the flowers and plants you could imagine in an historic garden.

Always a strong character, one of the most memorable moments of Dennis' and my wedding was when Nan lost her hat and had to travel home to England without it. Dennis, my mother and I searched high and low for it, but it remained undiscovered until a newspaper reporter and photographer visited our home in Cleveland two months later.

Trying to think of something to do that would make for a photographic subject, Dennis and I opened some of our wedding presents on our living room floor while talking to the reporter. About two gifts in, we picked up a beautiful gift bag containing a bubble wrapped package. We carefully opened it with intrigue and with an uproar of uncontrollable laughter, revealed Nan's hat! The moment was captured on camera and made its way to the front page of the Sunday newspaper.

All my friends loved Nan. She wrote to them, cooked for them, chatted and laughed with them. She was everyone's Nan, but best of all, she was my Nan!

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Natalie January 12, 2010 2:25 am (Pacific time)

Lovely story. I can only wish my grandkids will have such kind words after my death...

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