The eldest grandchild’s speech, written for her grandmother’s funeral in June 2016
When Mum asked me if I would like to speak today, it sparked the most wonderful exchange between the four eldest grandchildren (me, Jenny, Andy and Toby) as we recalled lots of lovely things about Grandma.
So, I offer you a multi-sensory experience, as my sister, cousins and I attempt to evoke some of our very happy memories.
I am certainly going to ‘spill the beans’ on some of our adventures, but I have to tell you that a lot of what I’m going to say revolves around food! And it’s there that I will begin.
We all appreciated Grandma’s brilliant cooking and Andy recalls helping to do the washing up afterwards, standing on the kitchen stool.
Grandma once the told the story of answering the door to a man conducting some sort of survey. When asked if she had a dishwasher, she replied that she did.
“What sort?” said the man.
“Human!” replied Grandma.
Jenny remembers going shopping with Grandma in Grimsby, when they visited the coffee bean shop. We all remember the smell of Cleethorpes coffee so well. Do you remember the coffee percolator? Oh….and if you weren’t there at 11 you missed coffee altogether!
There were other lovely smells, too:
· Murray mints from the glovebox, or blackcurrant licorice sweeties from the pantry
· Estee Lauder’s Youth Dew (given her longevity, it obviously worked, didn’t it?)
· Imperial Leather Soap
· The smell of fresh bread from Smith’s the baker (brought home still warm, in a white string bag)
· “Whale” and chips! Wrapped (we like to think) in the previous day’s copy of The Daily Telegraph.
Not forgetting: ready salted crisps at tea time, followed by sherry trifle (she liked sherry!)
You see, I told you this was going to be about food!
Andy remembers Grandma taking Toby for a McDonald’s when Paul and Miranda (his parents) were vegetarian! Classic Grandma: the boss.
This sparked a number of memories in Toby, apart from the clearly excellent McDonald’s trip:
She was determined to keep doing her own cooking even after her eyesight perhaps wasn’t up to it.
In the same vein, she was stoical and insistent on self-sufficiency. In her mid-nineties, we all recall her climbing up the stepladder in Howlett Road to reach something from the top cupboard.
And she went on foot (or on the bus) to the hairdressers – every Thursday morning – for several decades.
Toby says, when he and Max were small, they would go to visit on Tuesdays and there would always be a token platter of small sandwiches followed by the main event – a vast tray of cakes and jellies, possibly washed down with some of Grandpa’s wine gums.
I remember going to pick Toby up from primary school one day. Grandma handed me the car keys and said, “You drive!”. When I asked if I was insured, she just shrugged her shoulders and said, “I don’t know!” I drove anyway…
Even in her later years, Grandma was always up for a walk to the boating lake or the sea front in any weather. Jen says that she was most happy to take her shoes off and walk along the beach with she, Lauren, Zac and. She kept a good pace too!
I also recall Grandma grabbing a skipping rope at the age of 87 to show Amy how to skip.
The wall between Grandma’s and next door is also worth a mention – it was the place to chat to next-door-neighbour, Gladys, and there was often the exchange of a magazine, left there for the other person, beneath a carefully placed block.
(We all enjoyed hearing Gladys’ laughter when she’d been on the sherry!)
Always sunny, the 3 older cousins played horsey with a blanket on the wall for a saddle, and rope for the bridle and stirrups. We also hid in between the back door and the sliding ‘storm door’ when it came to hide and seek. Under the stairs was a good hiding place, too!
Do you remember the time when it must have been Grandma and Grandpa’s Ruby wedding when we all went to Cleethorpes beach during the day?
I remember doing backflips on the sand, assisted by Uncle Barry, then we all returned to Howlett Road later (a bit sunburnt) before a meal at the Kingsway. I think that might have been the occasion when – during the meal – we also got a front row seat for the Cleethorpes Carnival, as it trundled past the window.
There were sounds of Cleethorpes, too:
· The opening of the front porch door (which always stuck) and the sliding to and fro of the storm door at the back
· The doves cooing in the early morning
· And the answering of the telephone with a cheery, “Boncey, Howlett Road!”
Then, finally, some of the visual images that our recollections brought to mind:
· Grandma leaning over the back of the settee to see how Grandpa was getting on with the crossword
· The pale green bathroom suite – very retro!
· Yellow hand-knitted jumpers with horses on the front and Grandma’s beautiful, delicately embroidered pictures
So, to sum up, I hope that these multi-sensory memories from the elder Granchildren will spark some of your own. Indeed, there are so many things we could have said about Grandma – how can anyone even begin to capture a life lived for so long and so well?
Many of the roles she played in her life were supporting roles, as she looked after all of us. But she was, of course, our own “leading lady” who made it all happen and we are all the better for having known her.