My wonderful Grandma was a lot of things to a lot of people. A wife, a mother, a house mother, a friend, a carer, a neighbour, a daughter, a sister, an aunt, a great aunt, a grandmother, a grandmother-in-law, great-grandmother and the cheery lady who would say hello to you in the shop/bus/in the street. She was special and I loved her so much. She was always there with warmth and care in her voice and she gave the best hugs. She will be sorely missed by so many people for so many reasons so I wanted to pop a few memories down in tribute to my lovely Gran.
Firstly, my Gran was the sort of person who called everyone “dear” from her great-grandchildren to the local shopkeeper. She had time for everyone and was always interested and polite. You don’t get many people like that anymore.
Whenever we went to stay at her house, for as long as I can remember, no matter what time we would wake up (and when me and my brother were little this would be early) the breakfast table would already be laid ready. There would always be an array of different cereals including a Kellogg’s variety pack when we were little, jams from her church sales, Robinson’s Jams, Rose’s Lime Marmalade (arguably the BEST marmalade), homemade marmalade and jams, sometimes peanut butter, always real butter and the toast rack ready for rounds and rounds of toast. There would always be a table-cloth that was green and white with chickens on, coasters and placemats, her amazing 60’s plates, bowls and pretty tea cups, a large jug of milk and a placemat awaiting the arrival of the big teapot. If I got up early enough I would walk to the local shop with her to get her morning newspaper, which was always a pleasure. And I mean it, it really didn’t matter how early or late we woke up the table was always ready to go! Gran also had this very lovely wooden calendar thing with 2 wooden cubes with numbers on and then 12 wooden sticks with the months of the year on it. And magically, whatever time we woke up it would be set for the day already. I think all of us grandchildren, and probably the great-grandchildren too, have taken it apart and jumbled all the months up.
Gran would always be humming or tra-la-la-ing a tune to herself. It might have been something she’d heard on the radio, or something I was listening to, or more often than not a hymn. It was a lovely constant sound. I caught her humming along to a Nirvana song once which was a particular highlight of a memory.
My Grandparents had a pantry in their kitchen and it was always my happy place. Even as an adult, even the last time I went to her house, I would pop in there and close the door for a few minutes just because it always made me feel calm. It’s a lovely cool room and always smelled faintly of bread and cereal. When I was little there would be a row of plastic Tupperware containers in the pantry and one of them always had broken up scotbloc cooking chocolate in it and I would often, more often than I should probably admit to, and munch on it on the sly. I am sure that she noticed but I can’t remember her ever telling me off. She would always have a well stocked biscuit barrel with digestive and rich teas. Ginger nuts would always be kept separate, obviously. There was always an shallow white margarine tub in the fridge filled with 2-finger kit kats, penguins, clubs and blue ribbands and they were offered with tea. My Gran took her tea weak and my Grandad, a proper Northerner, would mock her for it.
When we went to stay or visited for the day we would often go to Pizza Hut for the buffet. I have no idea why but this always seemed very cool to me. I guess when I was little I presumed that older folk didn’t frequent such places as Pizza Hut, let alone my very prim and proper Gran! One of the last times we visited her we went out for dinner and she ordered her meal which when it came was actually 2 chicken breasts, with chips and salad. Midway through the meal I caught her wrapping the 2nd chicken breast in her napkin and popping it in her bag “for later”. With a cheeky twinkle in her eye she said “saves me making tea”.
My Gran was the only person I have ever heard call a “Vase” or “Vorze” which was never weird and I don’t think I ever questioned it! She had a few sayings that she would say to me that will always make me smile. “I love you lots in pound bobs” is one of them and she would say that it was something that my Grandad would say to her. Another one was “I love you every day and twice on Sunday” which is super cute and I say it to Dylan all the time. She was never angry but would sometimes say that we’d made her “cross”. When she held my hand she would tell me how warm my hands were and give them a little squeeze. Her hands were always so soft and her skin was so papery. There would always be a tub of either nivea hand cream or atrixo hand cream on the side in the kitchen, the smells of both I find so comforting. She smelt of rose or lavender or lily of the valley or Anaïs Anaïs perfume.
For my Gran, I was her technical support. My Grandad was very tech-saavy for his age and the time. He was the first member of our family to have a computer and for a present for the last christmas he was with us he got a scanner, the first scanner I had ever seen. Oh that scanner was hilarious! It was a handheld thing that you had to drag across whatever you wanted to copy in a very straight line but because the scanning bit was only about 10cm wide so you had to do a sheet of A4 in strips… a ridiculous contraption really and it’ll come as no massive shock that they weren’t around long! Anyway, I digress. My Grandad was a bit of a techie and my Gran was not, not even a little bit! Pretty much every time I visited her I would have to help her with some technical issue. Sometimes it was an issue with her TV or her microwave or her mobile. She had the worlds most complicated VHS player, I think my Grandad chose it. To program anything on it you had to use a barcode scanner on the bottom corner of the remote and scan a barcode from a little manual. For me, it was loads of fun, a bit like playing shops but Gran just didn’t get it so that was my job, re-programming it each time I stayed at her gaff. And her mobile phone! Oh my goodness, I know that having a mobile phone was important as in an emergency she’d be able to contact someone but her first mobile phone was this Siemens thing that was impossible. I think it was a buy one get one half price or something and my Uncle got one for his daughter and one for Gran. She didn’t know how to work the bloody thing and most visits I would have to explain it to her and my cousin did too. She eventually get one of Doro mobile phones and she coped a little better but she never really understood how it worked or why she needed it.
There are lots of wonderful memories I have of my Gran. Seeing her sitting at our wedding looking lovely and beaming a smile at me and Joe. How we use to watch Countdown, Neighbours and Blue Peter together (watching Blue Peter for much longer than normal because I loved the tradition of it all). The way she would stand outside shops rather than follow me around the shop as I was on some ridiculous quest for electric purple hair dye or a certain book or an item of clothing that I needed desperately. The look she gave Dylan when she first met him and how she would say he was a “little treasure”. The alarmed but unabashed look she gave the time we had afternoon tea at my house for my Mum’s birthday and Dylan projectile vommed everywhere. The way that both her and Eilys’ faces beamed smiles at each other the first time they met, which was the first time I managed to snap an Eilys smile as she just kept beaming at her Great-G. How she would grill toast for guests but use the toaster if it was just for her. How she would blame my Grandad for waking her up with his loud snoring and I was side with her, when in actuality she was the loud snorer! How when you gave her a gift, she would peel the cellotape off so carefully and then she would flatten out the wrapping paper afterwards, possibly to reuse but mainly just because I think to her, it was part of the gift or just polite maybe? How she would never be judgey about the daft choices that I made with my hair, piercings or life. The way that within seconds of calling her she would be trying to get me off the phone because she didn’t want me to waste “my” money on calling her. How she took my very upset brother to one side at my Grandad’s funeral to tell him that he was the “man of the house” now and that he needed to be strong just to make him smile (despite her 2 sons being in the room!) The way she would let me bake things and experiment in her kitchen and no matter how the (often inedible) morsels she would try them and pretend they tasted lovely. How she tried over and over to teach me how to knit and she never got annoyed by my insistence to knit both left handed and backwards. How when my Grandad was alive she would make 2 curries because he liked it hot and she liked it super mild. I’ll miss her calling me “Em” and calling my mum”Margy”. I’ll miss all the little nic-nacs that she had around her house. I’ll miss how her house always felt comforting. I’ll miss how she would collect all the breakfast crumbs and take them out to the birds. I’ll miss how she still had a stash of that continuous printer paper for littles to doodle on. I’ll miss her warm words and her cheeky chuckle. I’ll miss the drive up the M1 that I have been doing all my life and the excitement at seeing the electricity pylons and the substation and knowing that you were nearly there. But most of all, I will just miss her. My middlename-sake. My beautiful, warm and kind Gran. The G. G’Ma, Nanar. Granny Rizzle. Thank you for being you Gran.