I've been quite sad this week. I've been thinking for the last few weeks about visiting my Grandma. To say goodbye really. Not that she was really unwell. But I wanted to just see her before it was too late. It turns out that it is too late.
I was half way through an encapsulation when I got a call to say that my Grandma had passed away. It was quite a shock, as although elderly, I didn't realise she was unwell. I am glad to hear that her passing was at least peaceful, and that she wasn't alone.
I've not really lost a family member before that I've considered myself close to. I lost two other grandparents but we weren't close. But my Grandma took me in as a teenager and I lived with her for a few years. She was the single only adult in my life at the time that seemed to actually like me and enjoy my company. Every day when I got home from school she would have a cup of tea and a snack waiting on the kitchen table and I would sit and chat with her. She always wanted to know about my day and to tell me about hers. She used to tell me that she liked having me there and that I was good company for her.
I was going through my weird independent, alternative phase at the time (ok, admittedly I am still going through it.... perhaps its not a phase?) and she always encouraged it. I'd quite often get grief from people in the 'church' who didn't like my weirdness and wanted me to be like everyone else. She would always stick up for me and told me to take no notice of them. I remember her telling me not to be a boring sheep like everyone else, and that she liked my creativity and difference. She was impressed that I managed to go into charity shops and buy old lady clothes, then cut them up and reshape them to make my own style and saw this as thriftiness and creativeness. I remember her getting very cross with the pastor when he complained about my clothes and she pointed out to him that half the girls in the church were almost naked and looked like prostitutes, whilst I was covered down to my feet!
I used to get a lot of grief from the bus driver that took us to and from school. I lived at the very last stop in Grafty Green which was over an hour in the bus from Maidstone. If I went to an after school club then I'd have to get the last bus home and he didn't like this. If there was no one on the bus at Kingswood he could skip the rest of the route and get home early. So, consequently when I got onto the bus he would get annoyed that he wouldn't be getting home for tea early. He spent a few weeks moaning at me about it and telling me I wasn't allowed to get that bus. When I continued to do so he started avoiding me at bus stops and refusing to pick me up.... pretending he hadn't seen me! A few times I got stranded in Maidstone with no way of getting home. Well, Grandma was furious about this and was straight onto the phone to the bus people. She made a formal complaint about him leaving poor teenage girls stranded in town at night.... and he got fired! Well, she was my heroine at this point! The grouchy arse of a bus driver was replaced with a really lovely guy and all was good again :)
As a young child I remember many visits to Grandma and Granddads house. I remember staying there for about two weeks over Christmas whilst we waited for our baby sister to be born. Grandma used to make us these lunches.... bits and bobs from the fridge or cupboards. We came to call them Grandma lunches and to this day my own kids (and I think my sisters too) will request Grandma lunches even though they probably don't realise where the term came from.
When I lived there she used to buy me a pomegranate with every weekly shop as I had never had one before. The first time she bought it simply because I had never had one before and didn't know what they were. Then every week when she did the shop she bought me another one and I'd have to sit and pick through all the pips and try to enjoy it! Sometimes we would go for walks through the country lanes in grafty green, and one time I remember going to a WI meeting with her! She took me on a huge long walk once, when I was about 15, that near killed me, and she spent the whole time telling me how unfit I was for my age. She was way fitter than me!
My Grandma has had a special place in my heart since I lived there. I have found it quite hard over the years seeing her getting old and declining. But it is nice to think back and remember her as she was. She said what she meant and she was good hearted. One Christmas she took an old lady from the church in to stay with us because she would be spending that Christmas alone otherwise, even though this woman would put anyones head away. Grandma (and I think Granddad at one point) ended up coming up to my bedroom and asking "can I sit and listen to your horrible music with you" just to get her head showered!
What I remember most fondly about my Grandma during my teenage years living with them, was that she fiercely stood up for me during times of upset or stress when others were being judgmental or controlling. She made sure I believed in myself and ignored them, which is something I have continued to do until this day, and for that I am very thankful. She was a bit ahead of her time I think!
I remember that as a young child, at primary school, I joined a sewing club. I made this pink furry heart shaped cushion for Grandma. She had this sort of stone cat that sat on her fireplace and she put the cat on the heart cushion. It was there for all the years I was growing up and living with them. I wonder what happened to the heart cushion, and the stone cat. It always made me smile as an adult to see that cat still sitting on my pathetic pink heart cushion that I made as a little girl.
Rest in peace Grandma. You will be missed by those that loved you. I hope that where ever you are, you have all your happy memories back and know how much you were loved. I'll miss you.