Monday, December 07, 2009

Firstborn is off sick from school with a tummy bug. But her super-speedy recovery from being a pale and pathetic waif this morning to bouncy and rosy-cheeked cheerleader this afternoon has made me a little suspicious. Think I might need to speak to Firstborn's teacher when I pick up the Small(er) One from school this afternoon to see if there was a test scheduled today; not sure how she would have faked some of the symptoms but there was possibly an element of ham in her waifishness this morning.... Oh me of little faith.

Feeling quite down today due to it being Granny Julia's funeral tomorrow. Firstborn has tried to cheer me up by drawing pictures of Granny J as an angel in Heaven all over the front page of the Gulf News (the very page I was trying to read) and bombarding me with non-stop chatter. Sadly the only thing Firstborn's determined good cheer has achieved is the development of a headache right between my eyes. Am trying to smile anyway to make Firstborn feel that her efforts weren't wasted.

Granny Julia was quite something. A determined and fiesty Irish girl born in Abbeyleeks, the fact that she started life without many advantages made her small triumphs doubly admirable. When my grandfather died twenty years ago Granny Julia refused to be bowed, instead she worked her way through her grief, increasing her shifts at the nursing home she worked at in Manchester where she often cared for people not much older than her. She also sat a number of GCSE examinations when she was way past the age of 60, probably making up for the fact that she had to leave school at 15 to help support her five younger brothers and sisters; Granny kept her framed certificates in pride of place in her sitting room - one thing that never failed to amuse me was her disagreement with the examination board on the grade she received for her Sociology GCSE, having failed to persuade them to review the grade she simply Tipp-exed it out and gave herself an 'A'.

Granny Julia was a relic from another time. Proud, pig-headed, hard-working, extraordinarily thrifty and super-keen on keeping up appearances, she was always slim, held herself ramrod straight and wouldn't have dreamt of leaving the house without a slick of lipstick and a neat outfit (her clothes were always impeccable, despite many of them being over twenty years old). Overly fond of the sort of old-fashioned wartime nosh incomprehensible to younger generations (tripe, anyone?), Granny thought a plate of good wholesome grub was the answer to everything; ahead of her time, she only ate seasonal food and bought all her veg from a local bloke with an allotment - probably why she lived so long. A staunch Catholic, every inch of wall space in Granny's house was covered with pictures of Jesus, cuttings from the Church newsletter and family photos; my mum's most effective threat was to send me off to Granny's house for the night - I was so terrified of the huge oil painting of Jesus suffering on the cross in the spare room that I'd do anything to avoid sleeping there.

Granny refused to allow her increasing age get the better of her and was as strong as an ox (not to mention as stubborn as a donkey), at least until Alzheimers crept up on her a couple of years ago. A few too many midnight excursions into the middle of Manchester in her nightgown and her firm belief that the framed photos in her sitting room contained real live people - we figured this out because Granny kept trying to spoon-feed the pictures - led to her having to be moved to an old people's home. Apart from the fact that the home smelled of wee, it was quite lovely with big bright rooms for each of the residents and nice gardens but Granny never got used to the fact that loads of old people showed up uninvited in 'her' sitting room every afternoon - she would sit in her favorite chair giving the other oldies evil looks and muttering darkly about how she would never turn up at someone's house without an invitation because she had proper manners. She never failed to make me laugh.

Rest in peace, Granny.


Nosovich said...

Wow, that was a really interesting and moving post. It sounds like she was a really amazing lady and it must have been wonderful to have known her. My condolences.

Anonymous said...

Glam Granny! Looks like Margaret Lockwood - film star of 40s. That old war time spirit! Condolences YLM.