Grandparents are wonderful people; as a child they’ll fuss and spoil you, always be there, always make you smile. 10 years ago today I lost my last grandparent and I’m still missing Granny today.
I only ever had one Granny, my Dad’s Mum had died long before he met my Mum. So there was Granny; we worshiped each other from the very beginning. She spoilt me rotten, she’d chop up apples for me in the way only Granny could. She would let me run up and down her hallway putting on my ballet show for hours. She never told me off, well not in the same way my parents did!
She was flawed, she had a favourite – me. She really didn’t even try to have a relationship with my younger brother. That was wrong, none of us ever knew why he wasn’t in favour. I regret that he never had that bond. He never did get the chance to properly build a link with her. As a parent myself now, I don’t really understand why my Mum didn’t address the situation.
But to me, she was everything. She was very Victorian in a number of way, a Vicar’s wife, not very sociable, she could have a terrible temper with everyone but me. She must have despaired with all my hair colour changes, my pierced ears, my wild nights out from my teens. She never judged. She was just my Granny.
She lived right on the Kent coast, she had done for pretty much all my life. I visit the seaside, I’m with her, even now. A wonderful bungalow, that I stayed at in the summers. Holidays away from home.
As an adult she could see straight through me, always knew when something was wrong, always knew that I was unhappy, before even I did. She was strong-willed, and a fighter.
She had suffered with ulcers on her legs all my life, always had bandages on them. Apart from that, she was reasonably healthy until after her 80th birthday, but then her heart started to let her down. 85 and she was in a wheelchair most of the time. She’d lost her appetite, she struggled a lot. She was lucky that my Uncle lived with her, and had become her carer. Fiercely independent, I can’t imagine she’d have coped in a care home.
Her goal was to make her 90th birthday. She saw this as a real milestone, we all did. She’d had a couple of heart attacks before her birthday. We thought we were going to lose her. Trips down to Canterbury Hospital, always wondering if we’d get there in time.
Bless her, we should have known, that being as stubborn as she was, that she would make it to that special birthday. She did, she had a lovely day, we all treasured that day. But you could see that she was tired, worn out. She’d had enough. It was too selfish to ask her to stay.
Two months later, she had yet another heart attack, back down to Canterbury we drove. She was on the main ward, she’d always been in a side room before. Ok, perhaps this time wasn’t so bad. She was awake, weak but chatty, telling jokes. I helped her with a drink of water. Mum, Dad and I spent time with her with my Uncle. It was agreed that we would go out for lunch and then we would head home. Uncle was meeting my Mum’s eldest sister at the train station and then they’d go back to see Granny. We all said our goodbyes, had kisses and cuddles and walked towards the ward door. I was the last to leave, I turned round and smiled and waved at Granny; and in that moment, I just knew I was saying goodbye. I just knew.
We had lunch, said goodbye to my Uncle and drove back up the motorway. I think even Mum knew that she might not see her Mum again. We got back to their house, and a few minutes later the phone rang. It was that phone call. Granny was unconscious when Uncle and Auntie got to the hospital, she slipped away a little while later.
I’m missing Granny every day, there is not a single day when I don’t think of her. She never got to see me happy. She never got to see Monkey. I wonder what she would have made of that!
Memories are treasured; I had such a special relationship with Granny. I want Monkey to know that feeling with the two grandparents he has. They may be in Spain, but at least with Skype he can ‘see’ them and chat about his week. It’s the best we can do, but I know he loves them both.