My nan died last Sunday.
Now don’t be awash with your sympathy, I haven’t spoken to her in 4 years, and honestly really haven’t missed her. But it did lead to my eldest sister calling me. On the telephone. And us having a real live conversation. Which was… good. Haven’t spoken to her for over three years – was *just* pregnant with the Bear. The last contact of any kind I sent her was telling her of Bear’s birth. 4 weeks late, as I knew it’d go straight back to my Mum, and post-birth I was in no fit state to deal with any resulting consequences in contact from a sad grandmother. So was lovely to chat to Big Sister. Weird cos it was like we only spoke last week – bonds of sisterhood go deep I guess. Slipped the comfy family overcoat back on very easily.
And yet… she was nervous, unsure of her reception. There was very little common ground to talk about, the parents being the elephants in the conversation. Made me realise that my big sister who I looked up to – who was out forging a career (aced being a Nanny, ran scared when the family upped sticks and wanted to take her to New York with them – idiot – and ended up working her way through the rank and file and being a much-rewarded manager for a Burger King) when I was still playing Bulldog in the playground – was intimidated by me . She of zero self confidence in the face of her supposedly cleverer, stronger, more successful baby sister. Of whom she is inordinately proud, I know. Sigh . Bloody families. We were very very close as I grew up, even though she’s 11 yrs older than me. She was the one who I went shopping with, to the cinema with, spent evenings watching scary films with – we have nothing really in common as adults, we’re very different people now – and yet, you don’t lose that early stuff, do you?
Everything changes but nothing does, eh?
So – is weird to think that my Nan, my Dads Mum, the powerhouse of Family Control and Domination is gone… yet feel only sadness and regret for what I knew, once, way back a long time ago.
She was a wonderful Nan to small children; round and squooshy (though not terribly cuddly), she had a real life actual envy-of-my-friends SodaStream and made us ginger ale and cream soda in it. She had a dog that was endlessly patient at being dragged round the block on the lead again and again, at being hugged and stroked and whispered too. She had an orangey-tan fake-leather sofa that was so hard and huge that you perched on the edge of it rather than sink into it. She had big swirly scary yellow and green 60’s carpets. The biscuit barrel was never empty, and sat in the middle of the crochet table cloth – but family complaints were numerous if it only contained dog biscuits (Rich Tea which she bought for the dog). Staying over night meant tight tucking in to heavy blankets and nylon eiderdowns and hot milk with no sugar in. She smelt of talcum powder, had the softest wrinkliest skin I knew, and hummed hymns all the time.
And yet, in the end, she wasn’t such a hot Nan after all. Because my sister and brother and I were blamed for ruining her ‘perfect’ family. We – who had done nothing wrong – were cut off. No more sappy birthday cards, efficiently-early Christmas cards, knitted cardigans for the children and warm unsurprised ‘hello love’ whenever we appeared.
So. Not very sad right now… But kind of regretful-sad for what was. Is that weird? Don’t know. Don’t care. Feelings is just feelings, yes? No right or wrong there.