This is a life related post – so if you wish to skip over it please feel free! I wasn’t sure about posting this but I felt the need to write it so why not click publish.
27th September 1939, Joanna Christine Shaw was born, she survived the blitz just outside Birmingham, did teacher training in Devon where she met and fell in love with Roy Hunt, had 3 children during the 1960s, including my mum, and then in 1987, just a few days after she turned 48 I was born, her very first grandchild.
Growing up I absolutely adored my grandmother, she was a relatively young when I was born so she had plenty of energy to run about after me, and my younger brother when he came along. She lived 10 minutes away so we spent a lot of time with her doing all sorts of fun things and exploring nature, be it a trip to the park round the corner, where she always had to take a turn on the swings, an exploration of the local Common, or a picnic at our special place at the river with some paddling after.
She was an inspiration to me, she encouraged my love of reading, my mum and my aunt told me they often used to wake up to the smell of burnt toast because she would have started breakfast and then picked up a book and gotten distracted, apparently she once had a egg explode all over the kitchen because she’d put it on to boil and then started reading and it ended up boiling dry.
There are so many stories I could tell you about her love of milkshakes, or her ridiculous antics, things that I’ve witness or been told about, the way it took twice as long to walk into town as it should have done because she seemed to know everyone and had to stop to chat. The way she borrowed Harry Potter from me to see what all the fuss was about and ended up hooked, or how she devoured my copy of Northern Lights on a coach trip to Cardiff. She was the shining light in my life.
Then nine and a half years ago she had a massive heart attack in the middle of the night, without at prior warning and just like that she was gone, she hadn’t been ill beforehand, she wasn’t even 70 yet and she was gone.
Her death created such a whirl of emotion within me I can’t even begin to describe it, sadness obviously, shock, when I had a missed call from my mum at 2am I knew something was wrong, and then when my dad called I was expecting him to tell me my granddad had passed, he was 14 years older than my grandma so as bad as it sounds we always expected he would pass first, so when he told me my grandma had I just couldn’t believe it. Then came the guilt, both at feeling slightly like I wished my granddad dead but also about the fact I missed our regular dinner date to go and visit friends in London, I was going to call her to have a chat and tell her the train I’d been on had been named after one of her favourite poets, John Betjeman, I figured I’d just see her the next week and tell her then, instead I missed what would have been our last dinner together and never got to tell her about the train.
Even now I still get moments where the grief completely overwhelms me and I can’t believe that she’s gone and the guilt gnaws away at me, which is why today tears me in two, I’ve never forgotten her and I never will, but on her birthday I think about her more, how much I loved her, spending time with her and sharing things, and then I remember she’s not on the end of the phone anymore, I can’t tell her about that great book I just finished, she won’t be here on my wedding day or meet any children I might have, and then I get angry and wonder why she had to die, why she couldn’t live into her 90s and grow properly old. Perhaps she would have preferred it, she was so active, I don’t think she would have liked to get old and frail, maybe going suddenly in the middle of the night was the best thing for her, as difficult as it was for all of us left behind.
It’s my birthday on Sunday and I still miss the joint cakes we used to have, I’m turning 30 I should be excited, and I am, but as every year now it’s tinged with sadness that I won’t see her handwriting in a card, or have her singing down the phone to me.
Some years it hurts more than others, and this was one of the bad years, maybe because it’s such a milestone birthday coming up. I hope going forward it becomes easier to remember the good bits without feeling the guilt. My dad’s brother and his wife had a baby today, so maybe in the future all the positive things about today will outweigh any negative emotions that try and force themselves to the front of my mind.
If you’ve made it this far through my rambles thank you for reading! Normal service will be resumed shortly!