Katherine Mansfield was one of the great short story tellers of her day. InAt the Bay & contained within this story is a delightful cameo of a grandparent & their grandchild.
“Does everybody have to die?” asked Kezia.
“Me?” Kezia sounded fearfully incredulous.
“Some day, my darling.”
“But, grandma.” Kezia waved her left leg and waggled the toes. They felt sandy. “What if I just won’t?”
The old woman sighed again and drew a long thread from the ball.
“We’re not asked, Kezia,” she said sadly. “It happens to all of us sooner or later.”
Kezia lay still thinking this over. She didn’t want to die. It meant she would have to leave here, leave everywhere, for ever, leave — leave her grandma. She rolled over quickly.
“Grandma,” she said in a startled voice.
“What, my pet!”
“You’re not to die.” Kezia was very decided.
“Ah, Kezia”— her grandma looked up and smiled and shook her head —“don’t let’s talk about it.”
“But you’re not to. You couldn’t leave me. You couldn’t not be there.” This was awful. “Promise me you won’t ever do it, grandma,” pleaded Kezia.
The old woman went on knitting.
“Promise me! Say never!”
But still her grandma was silent.
Kezia rolled off her bed; she couldn’t bear it any longer, and lightly she leapt on to her grandma’s knees, clasped her hands round the old woman’s throat and began kissing her, under the chin, behind the ear, and blowing down her neck.
“Say never . . . say never . . . say never —” She gasped between the kisses. And then she began, very softly and lightly, to tickle her grandma.
“Kezia!” The old woman dropped her knitting. She swung back in the rocker. She began to tickle Kezia. “Say never, say never, say never,” gurgled Kezia, while they lay there laughing in each other’s arms.
There is something deep within the human spirit that revolts against the idea of death. It is objectionable that it should happen to those that we love. It is inevitable that it should happen to us.
Everyone here today knew Tony. Perhaps you knew him as a bowler. Perhaps as a member of the island Have~A~Gos. Perhaps you were one of those he fished with. Perhaps for you he was Mr~Hava~Chat; Mr Nice Guy… As a friend, as a comrade or as a member of the family we all knew different aspects of Tony but in his final years & months perhaps those who knew him best were his grandsons, Ryan & Luke & it was with Ryan & Luke he shared.
Like everyone Tony had a secret life, things that he shared with very, very few people. In the long hours he spent fishing the waters of Quandamooka with his grandsons they had plenty of time to ponder & talk about the big questions of life: why are we here? What does it all mean? What happens when we die? As he grew older & the certainty of death drew closer those questions became more important to him.
Ryan & Luke shared with him their faith in The Great Fisher of Men. While drifting for flathead, snapper, bream or Gran’s beloved flounder it must have been easy to envisage those other fisherman on the Sea of Galilee & the promise found in Romans 10:9 & 10 If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by confessing with your mouth that you are saved.
Not only did Tony come to believe what his grandsons told him ~ & I’m sure that surprises some of you here ~ but he began learning about this Jesus his grandsons loved by getting up early in the mornings to listen to the T.V evangelists.
When we love someone we are like Kezia: say never…say never…say never…never leave; never die; never leave us alone & the Great hope of Christianity is that Goodbye is never forever. One day we will be together again & it will be wonderful because all the imperfections in us that mar our relationships in this life will be wiped away. All that will be left is our love.