My paternal grandfather died when I was 5 years old, but I can still remember the smell of his pipe to this day. My memories of him are feelings of gentleness and of his twinkling eyes. Although I can’t really remember the physical him, it’s the essence of him I remember with love and a feeling of being loved.
My paternal grandmother died when I was about 22 years old. She had a very English accent which I now know was Bristol lingo, but at a very young age when she came to visit she appeared tall to me with fine white wavy hair, so I thought she must be a queen because she sat very erect and spoke softly. It wasn’t until I grew into my teens that I realised that these visits to each son’s place were fact finding missions, so when she went to the next one she would run the last one down.
She loved a good argument although not with her in it, but those between each son, which I still find strange. She was expelled from every nursing home in Brisbane and was finally shipped off to the son living in Sydney, where she was put into a nursing home with the threat that this was the last one otherwise she was on her own. She behaved there and died a couple of years later. I miss her because she was a source of entertainment for us kids as in ‘what was she going to do next?’. I think that her sons breathed a collective small sigh of relief when she died.
My maternal grandfather was never around in my mum’s life since 1923 and remains my greatest brickwall. My maternal grandmother lived with my mum, dad and myself for the first 10 years of my life and spoiled me rotten. If either of them said no to me then I would just trot along to Nana and she would say yes. She thought I could do no wrong, which endeared her to me no end. She would play the piano and I would sing off key along with our dog (a Fox Terrier called Toby). Toby used to hit the right notes, although I still lack that ability, but Nana thought I was the best singer in the world. I guess it was because I was the only child of an only child. She said that I was her blessing. I loved her completely and not because she spoiled me, but because she loved me unconditionally.
She lived long enough to meet her two great grandchildren and died just before my second child turned 2. She had a wicked sense of humour but an old fashioned Baptist abhorrence of dirty jokes. So I enjoyed racing home from work with the latest one I’d heard to tell her, just so that I could see her get all huffy and puffy about it. I found that funnier than the joke itself. I believe to this day that it was all show and she went off to her room afterwards to have a good old laugh. When she got glaucoma and was going blind, she found out that she couldn’t knit or crochet or play new pieces on the piano, and this was the beginning of the end for her as she just gave up. Six months after losing her sight she died.
In doing my family history I’ve found that she has been telling a lot of porky pies about herself and her husband, and was instrumental in keeping my mum from having contact with her father. She was a very hurt and disillusioned woman when the marriage broke up and was entitled to her bitterness as she felt herself wronged, and who am I to judge? I love her unconditionally in return.
© MacPanda 2007
I can hardly remember my dad’s mum. She was widowed the year before I was born and died when I was 4. I can remember her black leading the range in her kitchen, and also the whistle kettle that stood upon it.
My Welsh grandparents are firmly lodged in my memory. Nain was tiny and wore size 2 stilettos which fitted me when I was 8. Pops was a foreman in the foundry at Barry docks and handed over his wage packet to her every Friday. Nain used to give him back his collection for church and some spending money. We went to the Presbyterian church every Sunday where Pops was an Elder and I can still hear the Welsh bass voices echoing around the building. Nain used to get the communion ready. The wine was Ribena as many members were teetotal. It was poured into tiny little glasses that slotted into a wooden tray.
Mum and Dad were both teachers, so I spent a lot of time in Wales as I was growing up and it is still ‘home’ to me. Christmases in Wales were perfect. The tree was in the parlour and we used to sing carols around Pop’s baby grand piano. Nain had a wonderful turn of phrase, which I’ve written about before, but my favourite was when her demanding granddaughter got too much for her. “I’ll jump up and I’ll never come down!” she would say. This used to worry me a lot, as I had visions of Nain dangling in the kitchen.
When we used to go to the beach Pops always wore a suit and on very hot days would take off his jacket and roll up his sleeves. I was an only grandchild for many years so was thoroughly spoilt in as much as they devoted so much time to me and took me visiting all over the place.
I still miss them loads.
© Guinevere 2007