Choosing where to start this journey has been pre-occupying my thoughts over the last few days. I’ve kept returning to the same starting point and repeatedly dismissed it as too personal but then again…..
People pass through our lives on a daily basis. Some slip by unnoticed while others leave a huge footprint in our hearts. One tiny little lady who left a huge indelible mark on me and on many others was my Wee Gran. I could ramble on for hours reminiscing about her but won’t ( I may share more tales at a later date – we’ll see)
One thing that always struck me was the amount of change and progress she had seen in the world she lived in. Born in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland in 1902 she saw two World Wars, lived through the reigns of four kings and a queen, saw man land on the moon and saw technology that we take for granted evolve beyond belief. Simple things that we wouldn’t give a second thought to created memories that lived with her forever. I remember we asked her once when did she see her first car. She thought for a moment or two before replying ” I don’t know what year it was but it was a Tuesday.”
“A Tuesday?” we echoed.
“Yes I was on my way to the prayer meeting.”
Do you remember the first car you saw? I don’t.
There’s a myriad of similar tales. A lifetime of memories left behind by this little lady. And to those who had the good fortune to know her – who will ever forget the taste of her pancakes?
One of the most heart breaking moments of my life was the day I walked into her house to visit as usual and she didn’t know who I was. Even now over nine years later there are tears in my eyes and a lump in my throat as I remember the scene. Old age had finally caught up and stolen away the Wee Gran I knew and love, leaving behind a frail, scared, old lady. I only saw her another twice after that day (it was too hard- and selfishly I wanted to keep my wonderful memories of her intact). She passed away a few months later a month shy of her 103rd birthday.
The poem below was written a very long time ago. I don’t often write about those dear to me for fear of offending or embarrassing them. I feel though that this captures my memories of this very special lady –
My Wee Gran
She sits in her big red armchair, hand touching her left ear
Eyes alert. Swift look at the clock-
It’s not lunchtime- yet.
Up since dawn she stifles a yawn
Ankles crossed- feet twitching slightly
Two clocks tick- only one is wound nightly.
The wireless is on- it’s McGregor again
A daily ritual in number nineteen
Memories flicker into conversation as a man tells of the death of a generation.
She dresses plain- no jewellry to be seen- only her slim wedding band.
She starts to talk using her hand.
Jumper and pinafore- uniform- regulation blue cardigan- well worn
A smile leaps to her lips- more memories into conversation
Two clocks still tick.
Now it’s lunchtime- the ritual is at an end.
Up she gets- wireless switched off- McGregor is finished for today.
It will be on again next day.
The big red armchair stands empty
Into the kitchen my wee gran’s away