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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