Thursday, January 6, 2011

Nanna 1917-2010

To Nanna

We first met over 20 years ago, when I was 19. I had just met J. and it was clear to me very quickly that he was very close to his grandparents and to his aunt, uncle and two cousins who lived close by. From the very first time we met, you and Grandad always made me feel so welcome. I had lost all my grandparents by the time I was 12 and suddenly it felt like I had a whole new set of grandparents. We used to go and see you very often, you'd make us fantastic meals and always bake cakes - I have yet to meet someone who makes a chocolate cake as good as yours was.
I always liked to think that even if we had met purely by coincidence, we would have got on just as well. Grandad was always there quietly in the background, but you and I would chat for hours like women can. A 50 year age difference didn't seem to matter at all.
Sadly Grandad and you couldn't make it to our wedding as Grandad was very ill by that stage and 6 weeks after we got married, he passed away. I'll never forget how guilty you felt when he was moved to a hospice as you couldn't look after him anymore.
By the time I. came along, you were living with your friend in the house you'd spent so many years in, and you were both obviously very proud of this new little person - your first great grandchild. She would toddle in the garden, in the sunshine, building memories of that happy place the same way as I had done.
Then slowly but surely it became obvious you were getting older. You found it more difficult to prepare a whole lunch for us if we came down for the day, so we started bringing picnic food. We made sure not to stay too long in order not to tire you out. But you still enjoyed having a chat and a cup of tea, and always, always there was that tin of biscuits and you'd tell us 'just have another one, just one more'.
When J. and I split up, I was worried that it would mean the end of my relationship with you too. But despite everything that happened in those months, you never judged me, you were still pleased to hear from me, you were very supportive. For reasons I'll never know or understand, J. decided he didn't want to be in touch with you anymore, but I felt that I. and N. were your great-grandchildren and you had a right to see them, and besides, I missed seeing you too, so I started visiting you on my own, with the children.
Not long after that, it was obvious you would be more comfortable in a retirement home, with more help nearby. It was very odd visiting you the first time, in a different place but with all your familiar belongings. We discovered that friends of ours lived a few streets away from you, which meant we could stay with them and just pop in to see you, without wearing you out. And every time we left you, I would wish you lived nearer and that we could see you more often. But every time we left you, you were always so well that I never even considered it could be the last time we saw you.
Last month I received a phonecall from your daughter saying that you seemed confused and that she and her husband were travelling up from Cornwall to see how you were. The following day your son-in-law rang me to say things weren't looking good, you had stopped eating and drinking and were in bed. And I knew then that we wouldn't see you again. You passed away that same night.

Nanna, I wish we had seen more of you the last few years. I think probably everybody thinks that when a loved one dies, but it hurts nonetheless. There is so much I still wanted to talk to you about - big things, little things. It still feels odd to think that when we travel down to see our friends, we will not go to the retirement home to see you. I will miss you, more than you'd ever think. But I am so glad that you were part of my life. You were a very special lady, and I am glad we knew each other.

Bye bye Nanna xxx