I've written about my Granny before. She died two years ago, riddled with Alzheimers, her old self long since gone.
Every time I think of her, I cry. I miss her. This is, quite frankly, a ridiculous thing to say, as I only saw her two or three times a year. She lived 200 miles away, and I didn't see her as often as I should. I somehow thought she'd always be there.
She had five children. Her four boys survived, but the girl that she had (who I was named after) died soon after birth. This triggered her manic depression, or bipolar, and from there on she was given lithium for the rest of her life. (And in fact, was almost killed by the drug when her GP mistakenly over-prescribed it for months.) She also had bouts of electric shock therapy, which she said helped her enormously (but 'stung a bit').
She was such a good person. A farmer's daughter who had struggled, she could seemingly see inside you, understand your emotions before you could yourself. Her empathy was astounding. As was her honesty. She would tell you how she felt about things, if she was cross with you, if she didn't like a present you'd sent. She would brazenly cut people out of photos if she didn't like the look of them and frame what was left on her mantelpiece.
But you would forgive her anything. A staunch Christian, she was the secretary to Christian Aid. She would collect door-to-door in the roughest areas of the city. She much preferred the poor to the rich, feeling that any display of unnecessary spending was a ridiculous waste of money.
I think of her often, usually guiltily, as I wonder what she would have made of my current situation. But my sister-in-law phoned last night to tell me that her old house, bought eventually by a builder, was back on the market. I stalked it on Rightmove and immediately wished I hadn't. The dark wood furniture, the ticking clocks, the green carpet, the ramshackle kitchen with her knickers hanging from the rafters - all gone. Replaced by swish wooden floors, knocked through kitchen-diner, glossy white kitchen cupboards. The random toilet in the middle of the room upstairs replaced by a wet room.
Her bed, the highest bed I had ever seen, gone.
It seems like desecration to me, but of course it isn't. People die, houses are done up and sold on. It happens all the time, and so it should. Houses can't be kept as monuments to those whom we miss.
I still have her eiderdown that she half finished, on my bed. One day I'll finish what she started. I also have a copy of the book that she wrote about her childhood, and a couple of samplers from her wall.
And somewhere, I think, I have the postcard that she wrote to me when I was at University, and I hadn't contacted her for a while. It simply said,
"Have you died? Love Granny xxx"