When I woke up on Saturday morning, it was from a dream that my grandmother had passed away. It was very gentle, very calm. So when my dad rang me on Saturday afternoon to share the news that Nan had died, I somehow already knew.
I’ve written before about Nan and how much she meant to me. Dementia has meant she’s been absent for the past few years, here and not yet here, and although a cliche, her death really was a release. But selfishly, I am still sad. Even though she was gone before, this is so final, and I miss her so much.
I have lots of very happy memories of Nan. She absolutely loved to tidy, and so when she and grandad visited, she’d help me sort out my room. Inevitably it would be messy again by her next visit. She also loved to knit, and made me many a jumper and waistcoat with elaborate cable stitch and inlaid patterns. I still have a pair of cream bedsocks that, even though I never wear, I can’t get rid of.
For someone who didn’t really enjoy food (she had no sense of smell), it’s strange how many of my memories of Nan are associated with it. Her terrible cooking was legendary, from chewy pastry to over-dry fruitcake, as was her ability to buy only the most woolly of apples. She also bought a strange brand of crisps we never saw in any one else’s house – ‘Squirrel’ crisps, cartwheel shaped things that melted and stuck to your tongue. She always had a ‘goody bag’ for when my brother and I visited, from which we could choose sweets that we were usually not allowed at home, exotic things like orange and blackcurrant Chewits. Very strong tea, sterilised milk, custard creams, chocolate cake from a packet, baked beans in front of the TV on her blue enamel table, the same bottle of Advocaat in the cupboard for 20 years. All of these are her.
Yellow roses, a polished dining table, amethysts, a china cabinet full of tea cups: these are also Nan.
I’ve inherited from Nan my freckles, a love of playing the piano and an ability to trip over a match stick. I was I’d inherited her red hair. I hope, one day, that others say I’ve inherited her unconditional kindness, her absolute love of family and her unerring belief in the goodness of people.