This is my Dad's Mother, with all her children, she is front left. I would say she was about 78 in this photo.
My Dad is directly behind her. My Dad, and my eldest Aunt (next to my Gran, front row) are the only surviving people from this photo. I have been to a lot of funerals over the last few years.
My Gran made me sugar sandwiches and peeled oranges for me. She died when I was 18 and she was 86. Her funeral was the first funeral I went to.
It is only since her death I have found out more about her. She was a powerful matriarch and ruled over her children with a rod of iron. Even when they were grown.
Like every big family there were secrets and sad stories.
My Gran lived through two World Wars, one of her brothers came back from the war, but was never the same again.
She saw the Berlin Wall go up, but never saw it come down. She never saw the end to the cold war.
She saw a man on the moon.
She lived to see her youngest son die of a heart attack (second right, standing).
We visited often and I remember it smelt of boiled cabbage (in a nice way), I remember the gold sideboard with the mirror and all the family photos (my brother has that now). I remember the cold of the outside toilet and the hard toilet paper, the warmth of the kitchen and the back living room. The front room was for best, dark, and always a few degrees colder than the back room.
There was a big black (or was it blue) car, probably from the fifties. I never saw her or my Grandad drive that car, could it have been a Humber?
She had an attic room with a rocking horse, one of the proper old traditional ones, and other toys, but I hated going upstairs, it was so quiet and the house was all heavy curtains, dark colours and windy stairs.
I remember her joy when I would turn up unexpectedly on my way back home from Sixth Form, just to say hello.
She was a very moral woman.
I am not sure she would have approved of me, as I got older, and lived with boyfriends. None of her daughters, would have been allowed to do that. When her eldest son did, she didn't speak to him for years.
She definitely wouldn't have approved of some of the boyfriends, the tattoos, or the piercings, but she would have loved her Great Grandchildren.
My Gran died slowly, she had a stoke, which stopped her speaking and moving, but it didn't effect her brain, she didn't have dementia and knew everything that was happening to her. She was in hospital a long time before she died. I saw her before I went to college in the hospital bed, looking small and frail, I told her about where I was going and what I was doing. She died during my first term.
Sadly, the memory I have of her, is her lying in that hospital bed.
But the memory of her I give to my daughters is the one with sugar sandwiches and peeled oranges.
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