I’ve always considered myself to be very lucky. Not only do I have a wonderful Mum who, alongside my Hubby, is my best friend – but for the first 11 years of my life, I grew up living with my Mum, Nanna and Grandad. I will always treasure those years because they made me feel special, wanted and, above all else, loved!
I had a really close relationship with my Nanna and, in particular, my Grandad. Sadly I don’t have any digital photos of me with them – I need to scan them all in so I can share them.
I don’t know what it is with little girls, but Grandads are always so special. I think mine was particularly special because I didn’t have a Dad around, and so I looked up to my Grandad even more. He was a tall man with great big hands – most of the time, they were blue due to bad circulation. Something I seem to have inherited, but I don’t mind.
He worked as a mechanic working on lorries for the local milk collection depot. We lived in the house next door to where he worked, so he was never far away. I can still smell the oil on his overalls when he walks through the door; I still love that smell. Every Sunday, without fail, come rain or shine, I and my Grandad would go for a long walk (with my cousins in tow if they were visiting). I looked forward to those walks, not just because we used to call past the sweet shop on our way, but because that time was just about spending time with Grandad. We would walk for miles and talk and act silly. I would run two steps to each one of his big strides. He had a happy face, glasses and always a moustache.
He used to let me put that oily stuff in his hair and comb it into unusual styles, my favourite being the Mohican!! He used to make up rhymes about our names (me and his other Grandchildren), and he always used to call me Anibas (my name spelt backwards). He used to teach me about flowers and birds and speak to me in Arabic; he would tell me phrases he had learnt when he was part of the bomb disposal unit based in the Middle East.
I remember being in my first year of Grammar School, returning home at lunchtime with my friend in tow to find Grandad having “forty winks” on the floor in the middle of the lounge. I used to find it funny holding his nose and clamping his mouth shut to make him wake up – funny how Grandads don’t get annoyed at that sort of thing; they just take it all in their stride.
Grandad was also renowned for his sense of humour; he used to love winding people up, especially the grandkids. If you sat next to him on the sofa, he would keep tapping you on the shoulder or jabbing you in the ribs, then looking nonchalantly in the opposite direction. But these were all things that made us love him even more; he was funny.
Sadly, my Nanna died when I was 11 years old after many months of ill health, and her death was a hard one to bear. Everyone in my town knew her, and so, as a family, we were often reminded of her when people paid their respects. It was a proud kind of sadness, though, because I knew other people felt our pain, too.
She used to work in the local family-run butchers and was a well-loved person. She had a laugh that I can still hear now, and as the years went on, my memories of her became more of a lady with a puffy little face, hands and ankles as taking steroids for ill health took their toll. One thing which stuck in my mind was Nanna teaching me that on busy market days, the easiest way to get through the crowds was to stick your elbows out and keep walking!
Nanna was different to Grandad in that she didn’t take any rubbish, but to be fair, I think that’s just women in general – men are the daft ones, which means the women have to take the firmer approach to keep some form of order. She was a homemaker and loved nothing more than having the whole family around on special occasions; Christmas was always the highlight as my Aunts, Uncles, and Cousins would all come to stay for the festive period.
After my Nanna died, my Grandad moved away, so Mum and I moved into a house of our own. This was great because it meant that Mum could put her own stamp on the house, but I really missed my Grandad. I went from seeing him every day to only seeing him about once a month. But he would phone us every week to speak to us. He moved a road away from one of my aunties and my cousins. The tables turned, and now it was their turn to go for the Sunday walks. I can’t deny I felt a pang of jealousy, but I’d had him pretty much to myself for nearly 12 years, so it was only fair.
He met a new lady and lived with her very happily for the next ten years or so. She was totally different to my Nanna, but she was nice and she made him happy, so that is what was important.
When I was 21, my Grandad became ill with cancer, and it took him down very quickly. They were the most heart-breaking weeks of my life, watching this man who had once been larger than life deteriorate before my eyes. In his final weeks, he grew to love the album Timeless by Sarah Brightman, in particular the song Time to Say Goodbye, on which she sang with Andrea Bocelli. We played that song at his funeral, and it still brings tears to my eyes when I hear it played today.
But why am I telling you all this, you may be thinking? Over the last couple of weeks, I have watched my daughter with interest at her excitement and enthusiasm for both my Mum (Nanna) and Hubby’s parents (Nanny and Grandad – Brandad to Little Bean). Her face lights up when you mention any of them.
Little Bean and Nanna (my Mum)
Little Bean and Nanna
Last week, my Mum was away on holiday, and Little Bean seemed confused that she hadn’t seen her for so long, asking, “Nanna, where is it?” – she still hasn’t grasped where is she; where are they?
On Friday, I popped to my Mum’s house to leave fresh bread, milk etc., for her return, and Little Bean ran into the house shouting “Nanna, Nanna” and returned to me at the door with a very disappointed face, hands up to the sky, declaring “where is it?”. I told her she was on holiday and would be coming home on a plane tonight. Her face lifted slightly before she sat down and looked sad once more.
Yesterday morning, when the doorbell rang, she ran through the garden shouting “Nanna, Nanna” and this time was not disappointed. We spent the day with my Mum and I think it is fair to say I was surplus to requirement in Little Bean’s eyes. She only needed one person yesterday, and that was Nanna. Nanna had to push the buggy, Nanna had to help her with dinner, Nanna had to give her a bath, and Nanna had to put her to bed!
Little Bean and “Brandad”
Little Bean and “Brandad”
As mentioned in my post “Happy Families”, we went on holiday recently with my Mother and Father-in-Law. Little Bean revelled in spending so much time with them; I think poor ‘Brandad’ was called upon at least 100 times a day – Brandad sit there, Brandad chase, Brandad help – you get the picture.
Nanny was given special hugs and flowers (well, basically daisy heads that she kept picking wherever we went). Each morning, we had to bribe encourage Little Bean to go to sleep for her nap by telling her if she went to sleep like a good girl, she could spend the rest of the day with Nanny and Grandad. Hey, it worked!
Curly and Nanny
Nanny (in Grandad’s hat) and Curly
Curly has always been especially close to his Nanny. From being a baby, he has always spent at least one day per week with Nanny and Grandad. He called them “Nanny’s Special Wednesdays”. It is still the case today, Nanny and Grandad pick him up from School, and they go out somewhere for the afternoon.
I find that children often find it easier to talk to their Grandparents than to their parents; perhaps it’s the special relationship they have. Curly opens up to Nanny more than he does to me or Hubby.
I love to see how excited she is when she sees her Grandparents; it reminds me so much of how magical my Nanna and Grandad were to me. “Brandad” reminds me often of my own Grandad, and I feel honoured that Little Bean has someone as special in her life. I truly hope that she will have all of them around for many years to come. They will enrich her life in ways that no other person ever could. I don’t know what it is about Grandparents, but they really are magical!
What do you remember about your Grandparents? Do you have any special memories??
Note: all photos are quite old because Little Bean refuses to sit for pictures with anyone at the moment!! And I don’t have any photos of me with my Nanna and Grandad because they are all packed up to move to the new house!!