My last remaining grandparent died yesterday. Old enough to remember a time when the gas lamps on the street had to be lit each evening, she faded away in a nursing home in the middle of the night.
Only taking water at the end, there was so little of her left that each bone in her hand was clearly visible, not an ounce of fat was left. I am glad to say though, that I visited her a few days ago,and in between humming hymns with her eyes shut and saying the odd few words, she looked up at me and gave me the most enormous smile. Her mind had been in decline for a while, she may have recognised me, she may have thought I was another of her granddaughters, but I’m glad I made her smile nonetheless.
Supporting my grandfather in his career throughout her life, she never worked but was a botanist by education and I will remember her for her love of plants and gardening. She was always proud to show my children her yellow raspberries and could not fathom my eldest son’s complete dislike for fruit. She had a maternal fondness for cats, birds, hedgehogs and any stray animals that came across her path and exasperated relatives by insisting the strays were still fed long after she had left her home and garden to be looked after elsewhere. I hope I can always recreate her amazing tarragon salad dressing and potatoes with paprika. She would never allow my Grandpa his favourite puddings for fear of his waistline expanding but was zealous in the way she would drink a bottle of Cava, given half the chance.
I had been planning today to post a poem that my daughter wrote recently, as I saw it in print at the weekend and every time I read it it makes me see another side of my stroppy, feisty, seven year old blonde whirlwind. I am adding it here anyway, as somehow it still seems apt in the way it looks across the ages. So goodbye to my Granny, with love from me and one of your great granddaughters.
When I was little I noticed the waves looked like white horses galloping and tossing their manes
and though I am older now I still notice them riding the waves
and when I am older still I only sometimes notice them rampage in and out of the sea
and now I am very old I don’t go to see them anymore
but I sometimes look out the window and see them
they make me remember those happy memories by the sea.