She is called Grammy by over 20 grands and 10 great grands... Susan was born in Cambridge, UK. The family moved to Canada in 1931 when she was 3, her father was professor & head of Microbiology and Bacteriology Labs at McGill from then until retirement, her mother a naturalist and writer, Susan grew up with a keen eye and a sense towards the natural world and what made it work. She married at 19, after working for 2 years during the war as cartographer for Ferry Command in Dorval. She created 43 large, detailed maps from aerial photographs.
Her 4 children were born between 1947 and 1964. Her first grandchild was born three years after that, imagine how lovely that would be to watch your generations grow together.
Her husband, Blake, passed away in 1969 after a late cancer diagnosis. Hard days for Susan, losing him when she was only 42, to manage her young family on her own, but she did it. She remarried in 1972, Don had 4 teenagers and 3 cats, all moved in! Two of her children married and gone, there were still 6 kids from 8-18 at home. The back yard was transformed for many summers into an enormous vegetable garden, many hours work in the garden and canning & freezing food for winter.
When Sue was about 50, she realized she had more time and a strong interest in jewellery after several years rock collecting & travelling to old mines with Don in spare time. She took courses, and taught herself design. She had a 25-year career as a fine goldsmith and jeweller. She was show chairman for several years with the Montreal Gem & Mineral Club. All this time, the family was growing, and Grammy was a happy centre of it all, she remembered every birthday of every grand and great-grandchild, and made sure to honour each one with much thought and love. Christmas was a delight, and if not able to be with her, she would and still now gets a phone call, so Christmas always is punctuated with cheery conversations throughout the day.
Grammy seemed youthful even up well into her 80s, still travelling on her own by bus in to Montreal to get jewellery jobs done. She also had 3 spells of cancer. The first in 1987, the surgeon told her at stage 4 she should go home & enjoy her time left. She insisted on fighting it, and after 13 months of weekly chemo, she was considered cured. She had skin cancer in the late 1990s, and then breast cancer in 2018 at 91. She has managed to maintain her positivity, and again is healthy as she is in her 94th year. She is a remarkable person, interested in all around her, and still with keen observance on what goes on around her. I am proud to be her youngest daughter, and be able to have my daughters enjoy their Grammy. Soon it will be our granddaughter's turn to call her by name, the youngest in a long line ... I can't wait!
~ Sarah Robinson
Airdrie artist Veronica Funk is making an impact with her current series of painted portraits called The Grandmothers. The idea for the project came to Funk when she was going through old family photographs after her dad passed away. “I began to ask questions about the women in my family history,” Funk says.
“I found out that my great-grandmother – though she lived in Paraguay, South America – delivered the most babies safely in the history of her community.”
She also discovered that her great-grandmother was one of the first people to incorporate sterilization through the use of alcohol, hot water and soap on everything that came into contact with women during delivery.
“I began to think about how so many women paved the way for us today,” she says.
“Even though women still have so far to go towards equality, there are so many women that have come before us and accomplished amazing things in spite of the challenges.” In October 2019, she put a call out on social media for photographs and stories of other grandmothers to honour them by painting a portrait of each and sharing them online.
“People have shared so many incredible stories and photographs of their grandmothers with me and I don’t know how I will be able to end with only 52 portraits,” Funk says.
“Reading the stories of each of these women touches me deeply. I weep and I laugh at their strength and courage.”
The project was started at the beginning of January with a painting per week and will last until the end of December. Funk has currently painted 37 of the 52 grandmothers using acrylics on 8X10 canvases.
Despite the project not being finished yet, her work has had a big impact on the people whose stories she is sharing. During this project, one of the grandmothers, Maria Gomes, was hospitalized for several weeks with COVID-19 and her family told Funk that sharing the stories, paintings and photographs with her kept her spirits up until she recovered.
“That, to me, is the beauty of art,” says Funk.
“I think what I’d like to share with people is how important it is to recognize what our elders have and still do contribute in our world, particularly during this pandemic. It’s important for us to remember that as we navigate these challenging times.”
For more information or to contact Funk, click here.
firstname.lastname@example.org / airdrielife.com
My reading this summer has inspired another little project which, though I'm not exactly sure when it will actually begin, I'm very excited about. I had 12-7x14 inch canvases left over from a couple of projects several years ago (Animals & Heroes, both 52 WEEKS projects). 'The Grandmothers' project is on it's last quarter, which makes me both glad and sad at the same time, so I may wait to begin this mini project until the new year. I did have fun preparing the canvases, though. The prep work has become one of my favourite parts of painting.
AIRdirondack Art Project
Alberta (above) +