I won’t claim to have known my Grandma for a long time. In a life that spanned a wealth of experience, I knew her for only a fraction.
Growing up, we visited regularly and I was, inevitably, always pleased to see her. She was kind and caring, as all grandparents are supposed to be, but I knew very little of her than what I saw before me.
But it was just a few years ago that I got to know her properly. After I passed my driving test, I began to visit her regularly – taking her out for tea, bringing her over to the home I was making with my boyfriend, spending time with her, just the two of us.
And it was only then I realised what a remarkable woman she was. She talked openly about her childhood as she never had before, she told me stories about raising my mum (who was by all accounts a total horror) and her two sisters, we talked about musicals and the opera. We hunted high and low for a copy of Alfie Boe’s Les Miserables recording in HMV in Middlesbrough, leaving in our wake a rather smitten – with her, not me – alternative chap significantly less than half her age. We ate good food and we enjoyed, relished each other’s company.
She had a wicked sense of humour, a sharp wit and a brilliant mind. She was hilarious without knowing it sometimes, and I think I’ll always remember that look of glee and mischief in her eyes when she shared with me something she thought she probably ought not to. I think that’s a look many will have seen before.
Her love of music was infectious. Her passion for reading knew no boundaries. And her love for her daughters, grandchildren, great grand children, son in laws and cat was unstoppable. All consuming.
The last few months haven’t been a testament to my grandmothers life, but echo the silent struggle she’s carried with her through the years. Though I think we would all have liked her to pass quietly and comfortably in her arm chair, the last three months of struggle presented yet another side of my grandma to us all.
Someone said to me that they hope they can be as brave as she was in the face of such illness – and that’s exactly what she was. Brave. She fought with every inch of her for the last couple of months. And she was so strong and so incredibly brave. I’m proud that I knew her, and proud to say she was my grandma.
She was my Grandma first. But then, I think she became my friend.
I cannot say and I will not say
That she is dead, she is just away.
With a cheery smile and a wave of hand
She has wandered into an unknown land;
And left us dreaming how very fair
Its needs must be, since she lingers there.