As many of you know, my grandma had been very ill, battling with terminal cancer. She sadly passed away at the end of August, with my sister by her bedside. Here is what I am reading today, at her funeral.
I have many recollections of holidays up in Yorkshire with grandma when I was a child. One particular year she played BonyM non-stop in her car. I still remember all the words to those hits and I did burst into tears in the car the other week when I heard Ma Baker. Not a song I thought I would ever cry listening to.
My husband and I moved to Yorkshire when we married, in this church, in 2003. Part of the reason for relocating to Yorkshire was to be close to my grandma, who had always played a huge role in my life.
When grandma and my husband first met, neither of them understood what each other was saying. However, not wanting to be rude, neither of them admitted that they couldn't understand each other and they simply muddled through until they were used to the different accents. I think this speaks volumes about the kind of people they both are, not wanting to offend the other. They then settled into a happy relationship which consisted mainly of them taking the mickey out of each other, although grandma pretty much always had the last word! A few weeks before she died she surprised us all with an exceptionally fast, sharp and witty comment aimed directly at my husband!
There was a point when my husband was between jobs and he used to come up to help grandma in the garden. She would leave lists of what needed doing. She was a great list writer, simply jotting things down as they popped into her head. On this particular occasion, my husband walked into the kitchen to find an empty house and a list with three things on it: Moss, Kill, Tim! Needless to say, he was slightly concerned for a few minutes until grandma said his job for the day was to kill the moss.
Grandma and I went on a girlie holiday to Goa in 2007 with my aunt and I can honestly say it was one of the best holidays ever! Cocktails on the beach and dining out every night. She was treated so well by everyone there and it was a real pleasure to be able to share that experience with her.
It's fair to say that I adored my grandma. I have so, so much admiration for her. The way she lived her life was so admirable. Nothing was wasted. Absolutely nothing. No money spent unless it needed to be. Nothing new bought unless the old thing was broken. Eating courgettes for six weeks solid, when possibly should could have just planted fewer courgette plants! She reused everything. Even bread bags, which she put over her shoes instead of wellies, tied on with an elastic band dropped on the floor by the postman She was the ultimate thrifty queen and she taught me all I know.
She traded in stocks and shares, checking Teletext daily to see whether prices were up or down and then meticulously noting down any changes. Even now that I have an economics degree, this still baffles me! There aren’t many women who could still be running a B&B at the age of 83, making breakfast and doing all the cleaning. Now that I have taken her place at the B&B, I genuinely have no idea how she managed to get anything done in the day, let alone spend eight hours in the garden!
Her garden was her absolute passion and she would spend the whole day working there. She loved going to the horticulture society talks and she entered the spring and autumn show every year. It’s fair to say she was rather competitive. Her cucumbers were pretty much all I ate when I was pregnant with the boy, because I simply couldn't keep food down. She was a fabulous cook and was always my first port of call when I was stuck for a recipe or just not sure how to make something correctly. If we dared talk or interrupt during Gardener’s World, we were in her bad books. Even though she would happily talk through an entire episode of Dr Who when we were trying to watch!
Grandma was so proud of the boy and the girl. She adored hearing what mischief the girl had been up to and what races the boy had won. I am so pleased they knew her and got to spend lots of time with her. I think the girl and Grandma were kindred spirits, they would snuggle up together in grandma's chair, even until a few weeks before grandma died. When I look at the girl now, I know where her strong-willed, fierce independence and wicked sense of humour came from.
Grandma dealt with cancer the way she had everything in her life, without a grumble. She was determined to beat it and when the chemotherapy failed, she accepted that she couldn’t, but lived the best life that she could in spite of it. I was amazed that she found such peace at the end.
On the day that grandma died, she was convinced that it was the Horticulture Autumn Show and she told me at great length where I needed to go in the garden to collect things, which were the best sweet peas and which pansies were most likely to win! Even with a few hours left to live, she was still organising things.
Now we are living in her house, surrounded by her things and her ways of life. I have found myself boiling dishcloths and following her routines. I have even found myself uttering her immortal catchphrase, 'what a waste', when all the medication she told us she didn't want had to be destroyed because she didn't use it.
I will miss my grandma enormously, but if I can be half the woman that she was then I will be incredibly proud of myself.
RIP Grandma. I love you. x