My Granny was a funny old thing. As my mum went back to work full-time after her divorce with my dad, my grandparents took care of us a lot. Consequently, whenever I think of my childhood I often think of them. Recently, as I’ve got older, I’ve been thinking about my Gran a lot more and I often wish she were alive so I could ask her a lot of questions.
My abiding memories of my Gran are her humming in the kitchen, whilst wearing an apron and cooking the dinner or making pastry. Or I remember lemonade floats in her small garden while Wimbledon was on. Or the time when we were watching France vs England in the World Cup when we were on holiday in Menorca and she and my grandad spent the whole time cheering France on, only realising at the end of the match that they weren’t Italy as they’d thought all along.
But there was another side of Gran, one which I see in myself more and more these days, especially now I have children. And that’s the irritable, snappy and impatient side of her. The side that we were all a bit afraid of. No-one messed with my Gran. Now I’m older I’m pretty sure she suffered from anxieties. I often laugh at the memory of her standing by the window in her lounge watching for my grandad to come home from whatever errand she had sent him on. When he finally would get home she would say to him, “Where have you been Johnny?? I’ve had you dead in a ditch!” I’ve always laughed at that memory because she was such a worrier, a needless one to my mind; Pop (my grandad) would always come home of course! That’s what he always did! But now I’m older I can identify with her irrational worrying in as I’m pretty sure I’ve inherited it. In her mind he could very well be dead in a ditch, or worse, and where would that leave her then? By the time she’d get to that level of worrying it must’ve been very hard to talk herself down. I’ve been anxious like that as an adult and I’ve had to learn to rationalise it but could she? Mental illnesses like that weren’t recognised as much then as they are now. It frightens me to think she may have often been in such a hyped up state.
As well as the anxiety, sometimes, after a long day alone with my daughters, I find myself getting very irritable and angry with them and I find that my Gran comes out of my mouth. I find that I’ve had enough of being responsible for someone else’s every whim and need. I want to just think about what I want and need. And I see in my daughter’s eyes the uncomprehending feelings that I once felt watching my Gran – why is she so angry? What did I do? And I wish that my Gran were here so I could ask her if what I’m feeling she felt too? And to say sorry to her for not being able at that age to see past the end of my nose and understand what she was going through. It’s ironic that only now that she’s been dead for 15 years that I can begin to understand her a bit more. I’d do anything to be able to have her back for a bit and to have a cup of tea and a cuddle and to tell her I love her.
Despite it all though, I’m very proud to be like my Gran in so many ways. She was a fantastic lady. I hope my daughters adore their Granny, my mum, as much as I adored mine.