Memories of my beloved gran whom I love very much.
|Storyteller, friend and a well-loved woman. Being the first-born child to your parents and the eldest grandchild to your grandparents is usually the most difficult role to be offered in life. You have to be the example, the one who should ‘know better’. Things that siblings do are your fault but through this all I had an extra guiding hand. Without sounding self-centred I was always her favourite and in all honesty she was always the grandparent I was most eager to visit. Apart from my mother, my gran was the most influential woman in my life. She was a daughter and a mother but was primarily a grandmother. Throughout everything the place she most longed to be was with her grandchildren. Her house was colossal, especially in all my memories of which there are too few. It seemed to instil loneliness in her, even with my granddad, she was most comfortable when the grandchildren were there too.
My greatest memories of this super star woman are of her stories. Thomas the Tank Engine was a favourite character of mine and being an avid collector of the then cool die cast toy trains our stories and the world of these engines rapidly expanded. I would enter her room early, just after she would have acquired a warm drink, and she would sit up budging my sleeping granddad to the side. We would find a nice clear space of the bed to be the ‘engine shed’ and we placed the toys in relevant positions. Then our world came to life. By the end of it all Percy, her favourite engine, had performed a great many tasks showing his courage by scouring the land for biscuits for ‘The Fat Controller’s’ dog or by saving the other engines from the villainous Diesel. I used to sit, listening intently, sometimes engulfed so much by the vivid descriptions that I forgot I too had to participate in moving the small models around the fictional tracks. Instead I entered the hustle and bustle of the frantic engine shed, with the clickety-clack of the trains rolling over the tracks resonating through my head and the ‘engine shed’.
She adored her grandchildren as much as we admired her. She was a particularly individual person with a gentile side and flair to her personality that captivated all. To this day I recall an incident that, at the time, I was wholly unaware of. We were stood in Woolworths looking at the toys and other such things that small children enjoy playing with. It was time to leave and so my gran, my sister and I all walked towards the exit. Apparently, from around a pillar two youths approached and nodded at one another in acknowledgment. Quite simply, they followed us towards the exit. Unaware to us at the time my gran, and all her mesmerising personality, slowly turned round, looked at the two youths, who even now I’m sure could have quite easily taken whatever they wanted from her, and somehow managed to ward them off. Ever since finding out about that I have admired this beautiful woman even more.
She stands on our mantelpiece. Standing proudly with her beloved husband. The radiant summer sun shines down upon the two creating a lush, colourful paradise behind them. Her silver-brown hair and her smile, beaming, as ever radiate her absolute beauty towards all who are fortunate enough to set eyes upon her. Then the day came that my dad went down to her house in Plymouth. He sat all night son’s hand locked with mother’s hand for hours and hours but still my life continued. I know now that, in my own way, I had always taken her for granted because she was always just ‘there’. I do not doubt that were she here today I would confide in her everything from my greatest fear to my most inspiring experience. I suppose she knows them now anyway, wherever she is. In that deep red sunset that shone across the pale blue sky the night she left. I remember waking to be told that God wanted her company more than we seemingly did. That same sunset rang through the sky the night her husband, my granddad, rejoined her. For the rest of the week I viewed the harsh world through waterlogged eyes. She was not particularly old considering, and still to this day I know not why she was ripped from us.
Everyone had been enthusiastically anticipating her next birthday, a mere two weeks away. Unfortunately it was not to be and became a day of falling tears and a celebration of a sweet and effervescent woman. A celebration of who she was… and who she is. Loved by all, but especially by me, this stunning woman whose house was an art gallery of all my ‘first school’ work will never leave my memory. And as she stands upon the mantelpiece, beaming, smiling, watching I will always remember the beauty of June; the storyteller, friend and well loved-woman.