For those of you who have lost someone close you’ll know exactly how I am feeling today. It’s the anniversary of my Nan’s death and I still miss her so much with every single year that goes by. She passed away when I was 17 and I had spent so many of my early years with her, between my Nan and my Aunt they gave me the love that I needed as a child. Sadly I only have these three photos and not any from when I was a teenager, that breaks my heart. If I could go back in time I would spend more time with her and take a stack load of photos. Thank goodness I’ll always have my memories.
Alongside losing my Nan, the hardest thing I had to deal with was not being “allowed” to attend her funeral. A certain person in my family wouldn’t let me go, I think she thought I was going to tell the rest of the family things that had been going on, when all I wanted to do was say goodbye to “Nanny”
In 2006 I was seeing a counsellor for a number of things and she suggested I said goodbye to my Nan in my own way. So went into the nearest florist and purchased a bunch of Sweet Williams, which were her favourite flowers, and a took those and a copy of our photo to the river in town where she used to take me to feed the dunks as a young child. I do the same every year to remember my Nan.
She used to work on Hitchin market and while I was staying with her during school holidays I’d go with her. Even in the coldest of weather she’d always be there at some ridiculous hour of the morning. Tuesdays were my favourite, she’d take me into the near by cafe for a bowl of hot soup and an ice bun. I got to know all the stall holders and some of the local shop keepers, one year I went round telling everyone “I’m going to be 5, it’s my birthday soon.” One shop had a collection and bought me a little red bag with Mr Happy on the front.
Ny Nan used to cook the most amazing Sunday Roast followed by apple pie and custard. Then we’d take a walk through the park to visit my Great Grandmother Agnes, we’d make jam tarts and have some with a cup of tea. I remember we’d sit in my Great Grandmother’s room at the back of the house which was always kept for “best” and there’d be china cups and saucers, at 5 I felt very grown up.
My Nan was a great lover of music, it was mainly songs from when she was a girl. She’d always be playing records by Andy Williams (who sang Moon River), big band music such as Glenn Miller and tunes by Henry Mancini. If you’ve seen Love Story or you’re an Audrey Hepburn fan then you may recognise some of Mancini’s music. I still love listening to these even today, they remind me of special times when my Nan and I used to dance round her living room, it was great fun.
It’s not always the big grand gestures that you remember. It’s the simplest little thing that can often mean so much, like when she’d make me chicken soup if I’d got a cold and the biggest hugs she’d give me for no reason at all.
I used to love taking her little black poodle, Francis, for a walk with my Nan. That tiny dog had so much energy and would always come back for more. I think he was company for my Nan and I literally cried on the day he was driven away by his new owners when my Nan could no longer look after him by herself.
As the years when by and my Nan got older she started having falls and was constantly in pain. She had to move from her two bedroom flat into sheltered accommodation and eventually into a nursing home. I used to travel by bus to visit her and each time I went she’d deteriorated a bit more. I’d read books to her, tell her about my day and read her horoscopes from the news paper as she’d always read those herself.
I was living at my Foster Mother’s house when the phone rang, I knew exactly what she was going to tell me just by the look on her face. On 21st November in St Katherine’s Nursing Home, my Nan had fallen asleep for the very last time.
Good night Nanny, sleep tight.