The Gallery: Grandparents

This week's theme for The Gallery is Grandparents.

The theme is a little emotive for me as none of my grandparents are alive anymore, and I have very mixed feelings about the four very different people. They range from being heartbroken to actually not bothered, and I know that sounds horrendous and cold but it's true.

I have one memory of my Bampi (maternal grandad) and that is from when I was two. I know it seems improbable at that age to have developed a memory but all the evidence points to it. I was sat on his bedroom floor playing with the dolls' house that nan kept in there. He called me over to the bed for a cuddle and I remember looking up from the dolls and smiling at him. Six months later he died of pancreatic cancer and I wasn't even three. He has been described by everyone who knew him as the gentle giant, I love hearing stories from my mum about him but don't push her as she misses him daily still. He is the one that I am most nostalgic about because I never had the chance to know him more and develop other memories.

Next in my affections is my Nan. Oh she was a right one. Nan caused my mum terrible grief over the years and was never the most maternal of women, but as a young girl and a teenager I was fairly oblivious to all of this. I have many, many happy memories of visiting nan every Saturday afternoon for tea with one or two of my three siblings. After Bampi died, she went to live in a flat in one of the converted Victorian houses that populate my home-town. It was a magical house, reminiscent of Tom's Midnight Garden because of the dark wood staircase, dustmotes floating in the hazy summer sunlight streaming through the stained glass windows and the musty smell that accompanies the elderly. Nan always, always provided battenburg cake for tea along with cheese sandwiches thick with butter. After tea, I would play in the overgrown gardens that flourished with the original fruit trees and pathways. I adored spending time there. I was heartbroken when she died when I was sixteen, my first real death to deal with, and I took it hard. I cried and cried for weeks if not month. Mainly in secret because I didn't want to upset my mum, who was more upset that I'd been struggling on my own.

My paternal grandparents are a very different kettle of fish. They were very austere people and quite cold at times. There are reasons why I will speak about them with less affection than Nan and Bampi, mainly because of the harsh way that they treated my father when he turned seventeen. Nonetheless, I remain far more fond of Grandad than I do of Grandma, who I query if I ever actually liked. Grandad was full of war stories and body odour. Grandad played the organ and sang while he did so. Grandad grew bonsai trees which he nurtured for decades. Grandma succeeded in killing off all of them after he had died. I remember him with affection but am fully aware of what an absolute tyrant he also was. He passed away when I was a young adult, in my early twenties.

Now for last part of this quadrilogy: the grandmother. It is hard to speak affectionately about her, she was a narrow-minded, self-centred and biased woman who told me that if I did not invite my uncle to my wedding then she herself would not attend. She looked like she could have launched across the room and scratched my eyes out. Transpires that she did attend and I did not need to back down. Apparently as a child, I refused to go anywhere near her. Probably because I knew what she was like even then hey? I am not sure that she was ever interested in my life; she was far more proud of the grandchildren who completely cocked up their lives. I can't tell you when she died, mainly because I can't remember. I think it was about five years ago. There are times when I dared to think about swapping her for five more minutes with Nan or Bampi.

I resent putting this photograph up of her, but do you like my Lego bridge?

So there you have it. Four grandparents, four stories and four different emotions centred around them.

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Comments

  1. says

    I love this post, I was really drawn in whilst reading it. Gorgeous descriptions of the grandparents and your feelings towards them. And pictures of you (I've not seen any before) hey, hey!

    My paternal grandparents I never really knew. They were lousy to my dad.
    My maternal grandfather was tragically killed before I was born but my lovely nan is still here and battling at nearly 90 although she looks really young, dyes her hair blonde, wears jeans and quite likes Peter Andre. Brilliant!

    I have v early memories too of being sat in a buggy going to playgroup & noticing the differences in the pavement on different roads- smooth, rough. It's so clear that I do believe memories as early as 2 are possible.

    Sam x

  2. Jenny Paulin says

    Your Lego bridge is ace lol
    Ts is a very personal and touching post and it's amazes me how different some grandparents can be from others. I am lucky as all of mine have been wonderful and lovely. You a rev very cutetoddler btw xx

  3. says

    What a brilliant honest post. I didn't know any of my grandparents but from the photos I think I had one that I could miss out in such a post!

  4. Livi says

    Fabulous post, it's sad that 2 of them weren't so nice but it takes all sorts to make a world, eh!

  5. says

    A really interesting and thought-provoking post. Your description of your grandmother's house with the cheese sandwiches and battenburg cake makes me all nostalgic for my own Nana's Lancashire Lemon fingers! Wonderful photographs – and yes, your lego bridge is fabulous!

    • TheBoyAndMe says

      Describing it, I really felt transported back there! I could even envisage the kitchen which I thought I'd forgotten.

  6. says

    We can't pick our family…but you had two wonderful grandparents to remember. Stories have come out about my grandad but like you I was oblivious to the negative aspects of his personality and just remember loving him. Your bridge was awesome! x

  7. says

    Is this the first glimpse of you? actually a photo of you?!! I love the way you have written a paragraph devoted to both. You look like you have your maternal grandfathers eyes, the setting of your eyes are the same x

    • TheBoyAndMe says

      No there's a few other toddler photos under a Flashback Friday. There's also one taken a few months ago in the 365.

  8. says

    Love this post so much – the emotion shines through. I HAD to leave a comment to say how much your lovely boy looks like you! Beautiful pictures – I am very impressed by the lego bridge! All the best :)

  9. says

    Yes, impressive bridge I must say. I find it interesting how we can all have different feelings about the same person. ie you loving your nan whilst your mum probably didn't as she made her life hell.
    I really enjoyed your post, very honest, very blunt. I like that in a person

  10. says

    People are people whether they become grandparents or not. They don't all fall into some neat stereotype regrettably in many ways. You look so like your grandad in the first picture, very much so.

  11. says

    Hehe yes your Lego bridge looks fantastic. Love the description of your grandparents and so many memories. Sadly I only knew one set of grandparents properly and both have passed away now so same as you I am grandparent-less. The Boy looks so much like you in all your childhood pics!

  12. says

    Gosh but she looks and sounds just like my Grandma! I think it is brave to be so honest about your feelings, but it probably says more about you than it does about her: you obviously feel confident enough in yourself to know who is good and bad for you, and that is an important life-skill a lot of us could do with learning.

  13. says

    A beautifully honest post and I an see why it is so emotive to you. I love the name Bampi! I think having people of all characters in you life helps you define who you you want to be and how! I can tell that is all the good parts. x

  14. says

    I only knew 3 of my grandparents and my grandfather was very distant to us as kids. I really couldn't have said that much about him other than some of the things my mother told me he did. It's totally fine to be ambivalent about relatives – you can't choose them so you're stuck with them to some extent and every family has their difficulties. It's not wrong or heartless to have bad feelings about a relative. You obviously felt strongly about your maternal grandparents and you can't like or love everyone. It's not a requirement to love everyone. And I swear some people don't want to be loved.

  15. HonieBuk (HonieMummy) says

    Wow, as ever a fabulously written and interesting post (I really mean that).
    You are lucky to have known all 4 of your grandparents, even if 2 weren't perhaps too fondly remembered – there are the 2 that were! (I've heard that a lot, wonder if it's to do with how they took to your Mum, you know the 'my son is better with me not you thing').
    Anyway, it's also great that you have photos of all of them – you were a cutie missus! And I love your Lego bridge :o

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