January 21, 2010

May her memory be a blessing

Baruch dayan emet, blessed is the true Judge.

We heard today that Rik's grandmother passed away early this morning. Marcelle Gignac Ingelrelst Smith was 97, a French Canadian from Montreal, and the last of 23 siblings.

Marcelle always had the most fabulous smile. Rik took this photo when she met her great-grandson Marcus for the first time.

I asked my mother-in-law to tell me more about the feisty, independent woman Rik called "Nanny."

Marcelle was born into a large French-Canadian family. From the ages of 5 - 14, she lived in a boarding home run by Catholic nuns and only made one visit to the family home when her mother died. She had a golden voice but her father would not permit her to perform. Consequently, she developed a strong spirit of independence and married at 22 to a man who would let her be herself.

Her beautiful voice led her to take singing lessons. She later performed in a radio soap opera. Marcelle picked up the string bass and performed in three symphonies in Montreal. She was one of the first women musicians to play Carnegie Hall with the Montreal Women's Symphony in 1947.

Nanny had a wonderful marriage to Richard Ingelrelst. They were active curlers, tennis players and bowlers. Their daughter, Carmen Josee, later named her own first born (Rik) after her father. Marcelle was widowed at the age of 49. She later moved to Florida where she worked for the Jordan Marsh department store as an epicure and sommeliere. In Florida she met and was married to Ray Smith for 20 years until his death in 1992.

Nanny started yoga in her 30s and continued her practice for 60 years. She took up china painting at age 73. She truly lived her life in the arts.

When I met Nanny she was 82 and Rik told me she was frail. She travelled alone by airplane from Florida to Seattle for our wedding, and got off the plane wearing a chic suit in pink (her favorite color) and high heels. Feisty would be a better word to describe Nanny!

Zichrona l'vracha, may her memory be a blessing.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous3:32 AM

    Hi, My name is Maurice Martel. Excuse my English, I'm a french Canadian. My mother is Claire Gignac, the sister of Marcelle.

    I'm happy to read her story.

    Good lock for you and all the family.