It wasn’t until my mum died suddenly and unexpectedly just over 2 years ago that I got to know my Grandma. I’ve known her all my life – but I never really KNEW her until then. My mum was an only child and since my Grandads death in 2007 she was also my Grandmas best friend. It hit her hard. So hard.
Going to my Grandmas house the morning after my mums death. Ushering her in, making sure she was sat down before telling her mum had died was one of the hardest things I’ve done . None of us knew it was coming.
I’d never seen anyone so broken.
I slept on her couch on and off for 2 weeks while she slowly began to rebuild. She started to tell me things. Some of which I knew bits of. A lot of it completely new to me.
To me she was just normal. My Grandma who liked to bake. Feeds everyone in sight and was obsessed with West Highland Terriers.
Growing up she ran the petrol station in the garage that she and my Grandad owned. While he fixed the cars. This explains my love of the smell of petrol/oil. It’s comforting.
It’s quite easy to have people in your life without actually getting to know them. Even after 2 years of being her new best friend, the things I learn about her still surprise me.
The first thing I learnt was that she has been through a LOT. She lost both her parents by the age of 16, and has lost so much more since.
The things that stand out for me aren’t the painful but the unexpected. The little tales of normal life she has shared with me. So I’ll share a few with you.
- The 4th of 5 children she and her 2 sisters used to sleep in the loft of their tiny 2 up 2 down home, while the boys got the bedroom.
- Her oldest sister used to work for the telephone company – this was when telephones were brand spanking new. So her house was the only one for streets that had a phone. The local shops would come to her house to place their orders on their phone in return for meat/bread/fabric. ACE.
- As a child she was sent to a family farm in Scotland during WW2. Where her and her siblings working alongside 3 escaped Italian prisoners of war. FUN.
- Before meeting my Grandad she was engaged to a Doctor. She binned him off for a mechanic, much to the disgust of her older sisters. HA.
- She’s a massive fan of the Queen. Loves her. The joy this brings her makes me smile.
- She makes the best dumplings/pie crusts ever. Or at least she used to – she no longer cooks.
- She has no problem what so ever in telling me that my brother is favourite (I suspect I may have overtaken him lately.)
- She voted REMAIN.
I could go on, but this is quite long enough.
At 88 she’s getting on a bit. Her health has deteriorated over the past few years. She now has Parkinson’s, occasional episodes of hypoactive delirium and due to a few falls very reduced mobility.
It’s my turn to look after her now. But I’m not just looking after my Grandma, I’m looking after Lily. The most extraordinary, ordinary woman I know.