Your grandparents don’t ever really seem to age, do they? Until they do. All of a sudden, the years catch up with them and they seem to age a decade in the blink of an eye. My maternal grandparents never seemed to age. My Nanny can still throw back just as many gins as she could when I was little. My Grandad is no longer with us, but I don’t really remember him aging. He was always the same, with his corduroy trousers and cheeky sense of humour.
My dad’s parents are a decade older than my mum’s, so they’ve always felt that little bit older to me. I don’t remember my Papa aging either. My memory of him is always the same, him sitting in his chair, his slicked back white hair neatly parted at the side, and his glasses. His hair probably grew whiter over the years, but I didn’t notice it happening. I didn’t get to see him before he died, we were on our way down to visit when he passed away, so I didn’t see his deterioration at the end of his life, I remember him only as I always knew him.
And then there’s my Granny. She’s 96 years old, which is pretty amazing. When she turned 95, there was a big party. Family and friends flocked from afar to celebrate with her. She is really the only grandparent I have seen age. She lives down south so I don’t get to see her all that often, so perhaps that is why I notice her growing older. Or maybe it’s simply the fact that she’s 96 and it’s pretty impossible to avoid aging by the time you reach that grand old number. For the past few years, each time I’ve seen her, I’ve noticed that she has been a little slower on her feet and a little less steady. But she’s always still been my Granny. Fiercely independent, intelligent and loving.
My Granny is from the generation of women who married late because of the war. She was in her early 30s when she married Papa. That doesn’t sound old now, in fact, it’s quite a normal age for people to say I do, but it wasn’t the norm back then. My Granny didn’t go straight from being looked after by her family into a marriage, instead, she spent years working and living outside of the family home. She was a librarian at Port Sunlight which is where she eventually met my Papa when he returned from the war. She was very much like an olden day Beyonce. And this love for independence stayed with her throughout her life. She was not happy when she had to stop driving in her late 80s, she felt she was being robbed of her independence.
Even though she has spent the last decade growing older and slower, she has continued to do things for herself. She has, with the help of my auntie, found ways to adapt so she can continue to care for herself. Or she had until she turned 96. She has grown more frail over the past few months and her body seems to be under more strain than it has before. She has been in hospital a number of times already this year and, sadly, she is now unable to cope at home by herself. My Granny loves her home, she has lived there ever since my dad was a little boy. She raised four children in that home, cooked I don’t know how many family dinners in that home and nursed my Papa through his final weeks in that home. To say it holds memories for her would be an understatement. That house is the bricks and mortar reminder of the life she made with my Papa. She has watched three generations of children play in the garden, weaving in and out of the bushes, squealing in delight.
And yet, now she has reached a stage in her life when she simply cannot live there any longer. After her last hospital stay, it was decided that she would need proper care to help boost her quality of life. And it has. She is in a home with beautiful grounds stretching out as far as the eye can see. The carers are lovely, the building itself is beautiful and she is brought tea and cake regularly (this is important when you are 96). But it’s not her home and it’s not her garden, and I know she is missing her independence even though she knows she can’t manage by herself anymore. I can’t imagine what a strange feeling that must be, longing for something you once took for granted yet now simply cannot have (well, I sort of can understand how that feels because I’m pregnant and that’s how I feel about wine. But I know I’ll be able to drink wine again one day, so it’s not the same).
When Tesco Flowers got in touch to ask whether I’d like to be involved in their random acts of kindness campaign and send a bouquet of Tesco flowers to someone in need, I immediately thought of Granny. Some brightly coloured flowers would brighten up her room no end. I think these Finest Scented Rose & Freesia flowers will be just perfect in her room. And, most importantly, she’ll know I’m thinking of her.