Friday, July 27, 2007

bye nanna

When I was young I lived on a farm in a town hours away from my grandparents, meaning I didn´t really feel like I had gotten to know them until I was about nine. Visiting them was as much about the television (What, you have FOUR TV stations? How could you EVER BE BORED AGAIN?!) as it was about getting spoiled by the grandparents.

Nanna had a huge collection of china teacups and silver. At about the age of ten I discovered that polishing silver was just about as much fun as any kid could have and would spend hours rubbing cleaning solution on teapots and ornamental milk jugs. I´d arrive at her house and rush to the silver cupboard, pulling the doors open and praying that the gleaming surfaces I´d polished just two days before would already be dark with tarnish and needing another scrub. I was often disappointed. Looking back on it, I´m not just a little bit certain that this silver high was caused primarily by the polishing solution itself.

Every birthday Nan was responsible for our birthday cakes. If it wasn´t a nanna made sponge cake, then I´m sorry but it WOULD NOT DO. Mine was always a chocolate sponge cake, with chocolate cream and fresh strawberries in the middle and decorated on top. None of that icing stuff on my sponge cake, it was cream all the way. I swear she spent half her time baking an amazing variety of slices and every time Mum would say to her "Mum, you´re spoiling them too much", Nan would give a little chuckle and say "Oh, go on with ya, it´s just a little slice."

Pa died when I was thirteen. That night I stayed with Nan, sleeping in Pa´s bed. I got very little sleep because Nan could snore like a diesel powered train. In a tunnel. Going up hill. I tried calling softly to her to get her to roll over. Then louder and even louder, but without her hearing aids in she was deaf as a post considered by other posts to be particularly hard of hearing. In a fit of tired desperation I flung my pillow across the space separating the twin beds. Nan woke up and said "Could you put the cat out, please?" Overcome with shame and cowardice, I got out of bed, hunted the cat down and persuaded the unwilling creature to get out the front door.

The last couple of years have been pretty tough, especially for my Mum who lived with her for three years as Alzheimer´s and dementia claimed her. Although there were lighthearted and amusing moments, it was hard, heartbreaking work. The rest of the family are in Mum´s and Aunt N´s debt for everything they´ve done caring for her.

In a very large way I didn´t know Nan very well. Out of the grandmother role, I didn´t know what made her tick. I don´t know what her childhood was like. I do know she worked in a factory during the war. I don´t know how she met Pa. I do know she was the most perfect, loving, generous, grandmotherly woman a granddaughter could ever wish for.

Sorry about the pillow throwing Nan. I´ll miss you.

This movie is more for the members of my family who read here. Nan and Daisy last Christmas.

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