I’m in an interestingly tender (or poignant) rhythm just now; pootling off every morning to Exmouth to put my Granma’s hearing aids in (they’re new, so she needs assistance). Since I have no class to teach this week, I’m able to follow that little bit of home-help with some good old quality time with the oldest member of my family. It’s here that the poignant stuff comes in.
My Granma’s 88 or 89 (I can’t remember, & I’m not sure she can either), so her memory goes back to the 20s. Yesterday, she’d had bad dreams in the night and was telling me that it wasn’t going to be a good day. So, to get her out of that, I got her talking about her childhood – about drinking milk warm out of the cow at the Bowen’s farm over the road – and on to the time she met my Grandad and he would come and visit ‘to look at the mountains’ (Granma was brought up in south Wales and Grandad had allegedly never seen a mountain before). Granma laughed, telling me about her hard-bitten mum and how she would say, "Here comes Lewis, come to look at the mountain!" when Grandad arrived on a misty cloudy day when you couldn’t see anything. He and Granma would go walking up to Carrickcarnen castle – ‘it was very romantic’, she told me this morning.
And then, part way through our talk yesterday, I was just struck with how unsurprising it would be (in some ways) if Granma only lived another few weeks, or if she had already died and I never had the chance to have these conversations.
Today we talked about the War – Grandad stationed in Singapore and sitting in a ship full of ammunition in Singapore harbour being bombed by the Japs. But they missed, and I am alive today.
I feel like I’m making friends with my Granma for the first time, and I’m really really glad I have the opportunity. She’s quite a big burden on my parents (who oversee her care), so it’s easy to get annoyed by her, but I love her and am grateful for our little morning sessions.
By the time we’d finished yesterday, Granma had forgotten that it was going to be a bad day 🙂