A letter to my gran

Dear Nanny,

A lot’s gone on since you died so I thought I’d let you know some of it. It’s been a while since we had a chat.

So. 16 years. What’s gone on eh? Well, I’m pretty much the same. I have two children now, and one ex-wife. I’m sorry things didn’t work out but we’re good parents to your great-grandchildren. They’re happy kids, and you’d like them. Not because they’re your great-grandchildren. Just because of who they are.

Funny, smart and brilliant they are. Must be something in the genes.

The week you died was bizarre. You and I talked about Princess Diana dying when I saw you on the Sunday, and you said that was sad. Sad  because she went before you. But then you went on the Monday night and, well. My life fell apart a bit. The nation seemed to be mourning for someone who they’d never met while I was walking around in a shocked state of daze as the only person who had ever shown me unconditional love had gone. Never to be seen again. The whole world seemed to be talking about mourning by proxy, while I felt grief with every cell.

That Tuesday morning you lay on your bed and I kissed your forehead and said goodbye. You told me days before you’d had enough and were taking up room. You were not taking up room. The space you left when you died was immense.

I was walking through Clapham the other day. That route we always did. Seems weird, so many years on not to be with you. Some people are indispensible.

But as you once said, so many indispensible people are in the graveyard.

So. You died and you got your wish to go home. Your daughters took your ashes back to Ireland and scattered them on the beach in Dungarvan. Apparently the wind turned so you got into Mary’s shoe, and mum got some of you in her face. I think you’d find that funny. You called Dungarvan home, even after 60 years of not being there, so home you went. Hope that’s okay with you. If not, then I’m not sure what I can do about that.

Now I know you’re giving me that other look. Tell me what’s going on Spencer. What’s really going on?

It’s been hard at times nanny, but the same stuff that was before still exists. We can’t change people can we? Well, not those who don’t want to change anyhow. I know if I said this to you you’d look down at your knitting and say this.

Doesn’t matter Spencer. Be you. Anyone gives you trouble then tell them I’ll come and give them trouble.

Oh, and that thing. The thing you called ‘that thing’ and never judged me for. It’s okay. We have our battles from time to time but it’s okay. And now you’re giving me that look again but it IS okay. I’m in charge now. Not it. So. I won’t let it defeat me.

Now I’m crying. Communicating with the dead. Because you are dead, and yet so so SO alive. Here. Now. Anyone who knows me knows about you. I tell them about you. I can never put into words just how important you were to me. Are to me. You still guide me in so many ways. Your thoughts, your words, your outlook. Whenever I feel crap I feel your hand on my shoulder and I know things will be okay.

I’m writing this and I can see you in your chair. I can see you not saying anything but taking it all in and then giving a big sigh, giving me  that other look which is kinda disapproving but also caring at the same time, and in my heart I know that every bloody thing that’s crap ever will always be okay. You once told me we’re fighters. We don’t let on we are but we get on because we won’t let others see we’re beaten. We’re stubborn and proud and funny and smart. Because we were born in August. And all the best people are born in August.

I gave the eulogy at your funeral by the way. I didn’t want anyone who didn’t know you saying stuff about you. Would be weird. I told people about your strength, and some things you went through that not many people know. I spoke about you. What you meant to me and I spoke from my heart.

I didn’t cry. I knew you wouldn’t want me to.

I don’t know why I’m doing this actually. I write bits and pieces, dump my thoughts out onto some small portion of the internet and yet this feels different. I feel about 8 writing this. But I’m not 8. I’m 41 now. But I just want to… I dunno. Talk to you. Is that weird?

It is weird. Okay. I’ll weesht now.

But I just want to say this. And then I’ll let you get on with whatever you’re doing.

You always said when you saw me ‘My god Spencer, I’m sure you get taller each time I see you’ and maybe that was true. Maybe each time I saw you I stood taller. Certainly, time spent in your company always made me grow.

I miss you. I think of you every day. And I thank you for all you ever did. Through your words, support, encouragement, humour and love, you made the best bits of me.

Take care Nanny. All my love.



11 responses to “A letter to my gran

  1. OMG SPENCER, IM IN FLOODS OF TEARS. in chronic back pain at the moment so that doesn’t help. DEATH, DEATH, DEATH, hate it, I’ve lost people who I thought I wouldn’t be able to carry on without AND I’M SO SCARED OF LOSING HUBBY AND KIDS.
    I was 28 when my Dad….my world died, he had brain tumours and lung cancer and never mentioned any headaches cause he didn’t want any fuss at the Drs. I was married with 2 children at that time, not quite 3 & 1. He was told he would have a quality of life for 6 months but was dead in his own bed at home within 6 weeks. I stayed on his bed all that night, mum was in the spare room, the noisy were horrid, I was so so cold but didn’t want to get in beside him incase he had wet himself, I told him to stop fighting it and he was allowed to go……and he did. 20 years ago 10days ago, aged 57.
    Mum continue her life for several years and then on MY BIRTHDAY 2009 she spoke to me on the phone 1st in the morning….I said see you later as she was coming to tea. She never arrived….we went to her house to find the house locked & we couldn’t get in but could see her lying motionless on the kitchen floor. It was like a TV drama, police smashing doors in & paramedics working on her…..it was no good, she was warm but dead….OMG…..awful.
    In between dad & mum dying we had a lovely son called William after his grandad Bill.
    2 parents gone and I still feel bereft…..they were my history, nobody to answer any question on my childhood…..
    Had so much councelling and treatment for PTS after the way mum was found….
    I now live or maybe survive but I live in fear of the next person hubby or children being taken from me.
    Sorry as this as been about me…..and it’s your blog but I don’t know how you feel but I can only imagine.
    Love Sheerie xxxxx

  2. Beautiful. My lovely Grandad died at the weekend, I wish I had the strength to do his eulogy, I can’t even think about it without crying, bless you for doing your Gran proud. Xx

  3. Spencer, that is such a beautiful letter. Your Nanny sounds like such a wise women and a lovely women too. I’m sure you miss her very much and it’s not weird – not one bit.
    p.s my eldest was born in August and he is pretty epic too (and stubborn!) x

  4. Am also in tears after reading this my nan died 10 years ago and I miss her every day she played a huge part in making me the person I am. Loved the bit about you and the ex being good parents that what I try to be as well hope nan approves;-)
    Another lovely piece spencer.

  5. This is a beautiful piece and very much reminds me of the relationship I had with my Gran. Your nanny sounds like a fantastic person and this makes me realise how true the saying is that someone is never dead as long as you remember them and their influence.

  6. Rarely does the written word move me to tears, but this did. The images reminded me of my own gran as did the sense of your relationship. Eerily, I read my gran’s eulogy and my one determined aim was to read it without crying, knowing that she would neither want me to and that she would want my words heard.
    A beautiful letter and one I feel now compelled to copy.

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