In my last post I made a list of those who had past but I still feel around me and as part of my personality. I thought I would continue with these people today and try to do them justice.
So….My Granny, my fathers mother. She was a strong woman who I’m a little ashamed to say I didn’t get to know very well while she was alive but she didn’t make it easy. Ellie as I will call her here was a bit of a mystery and I’m still finding out little things about her even now 16 years since her death. She had grown up moving between Northern Ireland and South Africa to an upper class family in the early 20th century, I don’t know much about this time of her life other than the fact that she trained as a Domestic Science teacher and met my Grandfather whom she obviously married. I didn’t know that she was a teacher until she died, when clearing her little bungalow my mother and I found her test pieces that she completed during her training. They are so beautiful that my mother has framed them and now displays them in her Nursery partly to remind her of the times when training composed of more than paperwork and theory and partly as they are a lovely example of stitching.
Ellie had four boys, my uncles A, P, H and my father who was her last try for a girl as he is always happy to tell people! From what I can gather she was a good mother, but some things about this family do confuse me. The boys were sent away to boarding school when they were very young, from their home in Northern Ireland to a school in Southern England. It saddens me that they didn’t have a family life really, that this ended so early and were sent off to another country essentially and only see their parents at long intervals. My Grandfather being an officer in the army might have had something to do with this I guess, trying to toughen up his children after his experiences of WWII.
Having this childhood did mean that my father was not exactly comfortable with children, he doesn’t know how to deal with them and still doesn’t understand that I do not behave in the way that a ‘Lady’ should to his mind. I will argue with him, tell him when he’s being stupid, won’t allow him to tell me what to do and refuse to accept that just because he is my father that he should command my respect, that he should earn it with me. Though this is the case I know he cares he just struggles to show it and know how to deal with the emotions, when I was diagnosed with MS he panicked and still doesn’t know how to deal with the problems that I have obviously struggling to speak about it and how to react to issues that I tell him about. As for mental health? Ha he’s still terrible at this one but he tries bless him.
Anyway back to Ellie, she was tough, not the type of Granny who bakes cakes for you gives you cuddles and knits you sweaters you’ll never wear. When she moved back from South Africa after my Grandfathers death she moved to a city near my family home and at the time I was excited to be able to see her more. Over the following years her weekly visits became a chore rather than a joy. Silly things really that spoilt our short relationship, being made to watch Songs of Praise on a Sunday afternoon when their were comedy programs on that I wanted to watch, having the smell of artichoke soup and horseradish permeating the house that to a young child were pretty disgusting I have to tell you. There were no cuddles, she was all skin and bone with a mouth like she was sucking on a lemon and she reminded me of the pictures on Roald Dahl books of the Grandma in Georges marvellous medicine not a good person in any ones book!
It was 5 days before my 12th birthday when she passed and to my shame I was annoyed at her. I was selfish and felt that her death would interfere with my birthday, something that now it is hard for me to admit to. As we were not close I was not very sad at her passing, it bothered me more at seeing my Father upset though in true old fashioned man style it was ‘stiff upper lip’s all round for the men in my family. Her funeral was small, sparse with only her family and a couple of friends in attendance, strange hymns I had never heard and at the time was not likely to sing as I was losing my Faith. This was a large bone of contention after the funeral, though I had stood and sort of mimed the songs, my brother an Atheist by this point, did not stand or sing but simply sat and bowed his head. My Uncles were furious and took their anger out on my parents, they had no understanding of teenagers as none of them had any children and blamed my father for bringing up such insolent offspring who showed no respect.
It has only been in the past ten years really that I have begun to understood Ellie and I wish that she had been around longer as I feel that we would have gotten along much better when I was older, when I had become interested in embroidery, needlework, baking and all the crafts she was obviously good at. Though her demeanour was less than warm, I can but hope she wasn’t always this way.