I had four grandparents – that’s pretty much the average number for grandparents I believe. One of my grandparents died before I was ever born though. My Dad’s Dad. I have never met him. Naturally, I have always wondered what he was like. I would like to meet him one day.
I remember visiting my Dad’s Mum when we were little. There were things in that house I never saw anywhere else. My Nanna loved Bingo. In fact most of her presents to us, she won at Bingo sessions. My Uncle and Nanna both loved “the Pools”, betting on a horse, “Spot-the-Ball”. That’s what they seemed to talk about. We would tell them about our swimming and what we enjoyed at school. My parents often asked us to take some of our schoolwork to show Nanna. We told Nanna about our friends and the games we liked to play. Nanna and my uncle would play card games with us.
My parents wanted us to dress smartly to visit Nanna. We always wore pretty dresses. My parents expected us to behave impeccably when we visited Nanna (and also Grandad and Granny – my mum’s parents). Mum trained us that when Nanna offered us a biscuit, we could take one. If she pushed us, then we were allowed take a second biscuit. But we were never to take a third! I have remembered that my whole life!!! Everywhere I go…I never take a third when offered. Just one, or two if I am pushed.
I remember Nanna sitting in her armchair in the back parlour smoking one cigarette after another while we were there. The air in the room was smoky blue grey. I found myself holding my breath and making excuses to go out into the garden to breathe some fresh air.
Nanna was small and thin. I remember her rattly cough and the way she wheezed when she breathed. I was still a little girl when she was hospitalized with lung cancer. I don’t think I realized at the time that she had lung cancer. It was later that my parents told me what had caused her decline in health.
I remember us all going to visit her. We took flowers and grapes and some crossword puzzles and books for her. She looked so tiny sitting there in bed.
I was fascinated by the hospital. Nanna produced a box of sweets. They were York Fruits, I have never wanted to try one since! I did not like them at all!
I remember Nanna’s funeral. I remember my uncles and aunts and cousins and all of my siblings being there. I remember it being quite eventful.
I think it’s kind of sad that the main things I remember about Nanna was her smoking, her yellow fingertips, her love of Bingo and having a flutter with some sort of gambling. It’s hard not to compare Nanna with Granny. Granny was very active. She baked, she had an allotment where she grew vegetables that she cooked with, she worked with local organizations. And then there was my Grandad. He was very active, especially mentally. A life-long student. It was only after he died that we discovered that he was a very popular vlogger (yes a vlogger!), with a huge following.
My Dadda…when he was a young man, he got involved in gambling and he ended up in a huge amount of debt. But my Dadda changed. He fought to change his habits. By the time I was born my Dadda had made many changes. There was never a cigarette in our family home. He never gambled, not in any form at all. He had to work hard to pay off his debt at the same time caring for so many children. But he was determined to look after us, and train us to love working hard and lead a healthy active life.
I would have loved to have seen my Nanna healthy and well. My mum (who was a nurse) happened to be with my Nanna that last night. She held her hand and spoke softly to her those last few hours. I always remembered how lovely my mum was, when I later worked in palliative care with terminally ill patients. The memories of seeing what my Nanna went through have stayed with me for life.
It makes me so sad that people smoke cigarettes and use other forms of tobacco. How much suffering they have brought to individuals and their families. How much stress and anguish gambling has brought to individuals and families!
I am glad that my parents were very mindful of the example they were setting for us. Their hard-working, healthy, wholesome examples and their lovely personalities and qualities have made a huge impression on all of us. They taught us to love life, to dress well, to show kindness. They taught us to be affectionate with all our family and to love them. They helped us develop a sense of dignity and pride in being clean and tidy and telling people about the wonderful things we were learning. They taught us how to enjoy life with gusto!
I remember telling my Nanna that I had been reading the Bible. (I read it for the first time when I was five years of age – from start to finish.) I told her that our Creator is going to make this earth a paradise and that we will all live forever in peace with no wars, crimes or disease. I also told her there will be no cigarettes in the paradise.
I would love to think that when she wakes up, there will be lots of wonderful things to share with her, so much so that she will never think about Bingo or betting on sports ever again! Maybe instead we will play sports together. It would be amazing to see her running round a park, her lungs healthy and strong.
I would love to see all my grandparents again, full or life, full of energy – no wrinkles, no aches and pains. Until then they are safe in my Creator’s memory. And they live on in our minds and hearts.
This was my response to the writing prompt from Sarah Elizabeth Moore: