My Nan died yesterday… I’m not sure how to feel.
It’s been coming for a while; years in fact, and in some ways it feels like a relief. She didn’t really do much in later life, and quietly lived out her final years in a tall, musty house in Ramsgate, Kent.
Yet despite her solitude, she remained ever-present in our lives, a woman who could be relied on to be stubborn and unbending in matters of elderly respectability and social pride. Despite her setbacks, she quietly soldiered on, pottering about, living one day to another with barely a shrug or complaint.
She’d always sit there in the corner of her cold, dimly-lit living room in a pristine cardigan, with neatly brushed hair and a crisp-packet-for-a-bin, sucking mints and drinking tea. Oh, and watching soaps. She watched a lot of soaps.
Despite the fact she often couldn’t hear us, she insisted she wasn’t deaf, and refused a hearing aid right to the end. She refused a lot of other things as well, and this makes me sad.
If I’m to take one lesson from Nan’s life, it’s the need to stay active and keep the mind working, right into old age. It’s also a good idea to think about your old age before it hits, and not just ignore it and pretend it’s not a thing. She would certainly have had a better quality of life if she had accepted the help that was offered to her.
But that’s the thing with pride, and a specific pride born of Nan’s East End origins. Never one to complain, and never one to ask for anything, she plodded on, eating her toast and sucking her mints, and yet somehow survived year after year, as the days passed and the world changed around her.
It seems strange then to think that she’s gone. No more weekly phone calls; no more lottery scratch-cards and TV ‘books’; no more moaning about her neighbours, or asking Nicky when she might wear a skirt. And no more Christmas Day visits to Nan’s house either: one of my favourite times of the year.
I’ll miss you Nan. I’m sorry your gone, but I’m glad I got to see you again before the end.
From your grandson,
A poem about Nan
To close this blog, I’d like to include a poem by my cousin Emma written in March 2018. I spotted it stuck to the wall at Nan’s house and liked it so much I had to save a photo. I think it sums up Nan, and trips to Nan’s house pretty well…