Today was Nanny’s funeral. There seems to have been a lot of loss lately and my loss certainly isn’t the most devastating. However, it is devastating for me, my father and our family. Nanny was my last grandparent and I feel her death has had a huge impact on my own parents view on their mortality. Now they are the oldest generation. It’s strange and scary. Nanny was a kind and gentle woman, she was tiny and by the time she died was well under 5ft. I think she was about 4ft11 for most of her life but osteoporosis made her even tinier. I can remember thinking I’d know when I was a grown up big girl because I’d be taller than Nan. She loved her family more than anything and was happiest with her family. She wasn’t a great socialiser, she didn’t need anyone else but her family. But she was just so gentle, loving and kind. What really gets me is what an amazing and challenging life she led yet she was so humble.
We moan about our husbands not putting the bins out or not doing DIY but when Nan and Grandad were married she fell pregnant for the first time with Uncle Alan, grandad was in the Navy and had to go to sea. He didn’t meet Alan for four years. Four years. She lived with her Aunt until grandad came home. Imagine being on your own, no home of your own, with your first born. She had four boys. Dad was born in 1953, he was so poorly as a child he had his spleen removed. He was terribly ill, in hospital for a lot of his infant years. How terrifically worrying for a mother. Yet on she strode. Then there was my Uncle Derek who I never met as he was lost during an operation on an ulcer where he lost so much blood he needed a transfusion, today he’d have been saved. It was 1976, he was 26, he had a 1 year old. I can’t imagine what it feels like to lose a child at any age. I do know that Nanny and Grandad always thought of Derek and he was very much still a part of our family even though I never met him. The pain that must have caused. Then there was her hope for a daughter, the joy of her pregnancies and the sheer devastation of the miscarriage of a girl in late pregnancy before she had Neil, her youngest boy (50 this year). She always talked to me about her daughter and how she wished she’d never asked the sex of the baby as it made it even harder to manage. On top of that she suffered a huge cyst in her abdomen and was made to stay on the maternity ward with pregnant ladies when inside she was suffering from the huge impact that she wasn’t pregnant as first thought, grieving the loss of a baby who never existed amongst swarming women and their swollen pregnant bellies or with their newborns.
I know she thought of mum, Lucy, me and Naomi especially as very special daughter figures. She thought The pob was a girl I think because she wanted me to experience what she hasn’t, a daughter. She thought this baby is a girl too. With sheer determination. It’s a girl dear. I told her, Nan, don’t get your hopes up I think it’s a boy. The impact of the loss of get daughter I think was the number one biggest life event for her.
Although so tiny she was clearly a strong woman. She was a fantastic Nanny, as children she played beautifully with us. Knitted us outfits (and for our dollies). She made the wateryist gravy ever, called sorbet sorbit, called pizza peessa and was extremely impressed with cook in the bag chicken. There was no better remedy than a cup of tea.
Grandad died in 2004, just before our wedding. Since then she’s lived alone in her bungalow without ever once complaining. Recently, perhaps a year ago, I remember laying on her bed with her as she felt poorly and tired and asking, didn’t she feel lonely. The answer, no. She talked to the angels and to George (grandad).
She was tired, she was 93. She’d had a stroke, but even that made a good recovery from. She didn’t want to go in to a home. She wanted to be with George. She gave up.
At 93 who can blame her.
In 2011 I wrote her a poem for Christmas which I read today. But I totally choked. Thank goodness for sisters. I looked up at Lucy and in an instant she was by my side. We read it together. If a little snottily. I hope she was looking over us and even though I choked I don’t care. I can imagine her saying ‘I knew you’d say something dear’ that’s all that matters. That she knows she’s loved and remembered.
What a woman she was.
Today was sad to say goodbye.