‘I don’t want my Grannie to die, I would miss her too much.’
I was holding an ageing folder with the name ‘Mother’ emblazoned on the front in red felt tip capitals. Skater had asked me what I was carrying. I told him it was some of my Grannie’s writing. He gets a tad confused when I mention my older relatives. He asked was she Bill’s daughter. No she was Bill’s wife, my mother’s mother. My Grannie Pat, died aged 67 when I was just 21. This is what prompted my son to utter those words.
I am well aware that my mother is now 71, I assured Skater that his Grannie is going to live longer than his 21st year. Talking to my mother this morning I mentioned this conversation to her.
‘Tell Skater that I take better care of my health than my mother did,’ she told me.
Last night I was reading some of Pat’s work. There was a tale of a holiday taken with her husband and son on a narrow boat. She described the galley and how being of a round build she had to step out of the galley each time she needed to turn around, unlike the two males who were ‘beanpolish’.
This brought back memories of my favourite woman (after my mummy, that was). Throughout my life I have seen photos of my Grannie as a stunning young woman. A slender brunette, both as a bride and young mother.
However my memories are all of a short, cuddly, grey haired smiling woman whom I loved so much. I remember family walks with her and her much loved labrador cross (Candy), hours at her kitchen table making or drawing things. I remember the dresses she made for me. I remember the many friends she had in their small Essex village. The flowers that she arranged in the church when it was all quiet.
I don’t have memories of her sitting writing, although I realise that this would have been something she did when we were not there. I don’t know when I first became aware that my Grannie was a prolific writer, both for the WI of which she was an active member, but also for magazines. I don’t think I ever read anything she had written. In my late teens I started writing too, nothing much, just for my own pleasure. When my Grannie died so did my desire to write. I just couldn’t bring myself to write anything, until about 2007 that is.
Today as I began to read some of my Grannie’s writing, I could picture myself in the places she described, whether it was a tale of a fox being hunted or the joy of her faithful dog when she knew they were going out walking. Those childhood walks on the common or along the tracks beside the farms close by, all came flooding back from that time more than 40 years ago when life was so much simpler for us children.
My Grannie loved life, it is just such a pity that her love of life didn’t include taking care of her own health. I remember that for some time she suffered from Angina which in those days was quite common amongst people who I realise were in the age group that I have now joined. She died in her sleep, after having a massive heart attack. I will never forget that morning when my grandfather phoned to speak to my mother at the crack of dawn on a Sunday. Having answered the phone and called my mother, I sat on the stairs and just cried, I didn’t need to be told the news, I knew it in my heart that I had lost my adored Grannie.
I dressed and set out walking through the town inconsolable. Not only had I lost a beloved relative but I had also lost one of my greatest allies, my confidante.
Although my life has been without her in it, for far longer than she was in it, she has been one of my greatest influences and I shall never ever forget her.
Evelyn Patricia King always in my thoughts, I love you