006 Vera (aged 15)



















This is my Gran aged 15. On Tuesday night Mr Purple drove me to the Midlands to be with my Gran, within minutes of me arriving she died. After a long stint in hospital, aged 90 years old, my Gran is gone.

I want to write a tribute to her. To shout to the world about how amazing my Gran was. I mean, I know all Grans are pretty super, they’re kind and caring, they love us, they spoilt us rotten as kids. But my Gran, she was the most wonderful, wise, compassionate, open minded, intelligent, funny, beautiful woman in the whole world. Losing her is beyond hard, but I’m very glad that she’s at peace now, perhaps with my Granddad, having lived a long and happy life.

I want to tell you all about her but it’s hard to know where to start. My Mum had to work when I was tiny, and my Gran was retired, so she looked after me while my Mum worked. From then on I spent lots of time with her, going round for tea, off school sick days, weekend outings with my Mum and her. We were very close.

Gran loved going on holiday so she and my Granddad went on regular package holidays, including a couple of trips to Disneyland Orlando. She loved Disney, particularly Mickey Mouse. One of my treasured memories of our time together is me cuddling up to her on her sofa, with the photo albums of her adventures. She would tell me all about Disneyland, in the exacting detail that I wanted. She described the rides, the characters she met, the food she ate, the places she stayed. She was such a good story teller that it was truly almost as good as going there myself, listening to her excited tales. She stayed young, loving cartoons and cuddly toys. I often bought her the latest animated film for Christmas or Birthday presents.

She filled me to the brim with the confidence I needed as a child and teenager. She told me I was beautiful, clever and capable. As a young teenager, my curvy shape was in contrast to some of the other girls at school, she told me my body was curvy, that shape was a good thing. She said that I wouldn’t want skinny legs like the girls I admired. I believed her, I carried myself more proudly that day.

She was an independent woman, having worked as well as bringing up three children. I remember her asking Mr Purple, before we got married, how he imagined we would both be able to continue with our careers when we had children. She wanted to know I had his support to do what I wanted to do with my life. She told me about how she retrained to be a teacher, when her children were small. Having had her education cut short as a child, on account of being a girl, she wasn’t going to give up on a fulfilling career. She wanted marriage, kids, a career, equality in as much as it was possible at that time.

She was open minded, not afraid of new idea. No matter what I told her I never felt judgment, only compassion and understanding. She used a Mac to send email, use Facebook (playing FarmVille type games to pass the time), and browse eBay. A skill she learned in her early eighties. She read on a Kindle, and used an iPad. My Gran wasn’t left behind, she was sharp and not afraid to learn.

My Gran was funny. When she told a story she knew how to keep my interest. Recently she told me about how, on the first day teaching infant school age children, she had sent them to the toilet, expecting them to sort themselves out, only to find them all waiting for her lined up outside the stalls, trousers down, bums in the air, awaiting her wiping their bums. Apparently her first reaction was laughter, tears rolling down her cheeks she then got on with the task at hand. She was not constrained in her personality by her advancing years. She was not an old lady!

I could go on, I could fill a book with my Gran’s life, who she was, and what she gave to me growing up. I have always aspired to be like her. She filled my life with love, understanding and the knowledge that she was always thinking about me, and interested. I will miss her so very, very much. Goodbye Gran.

My Gran at her 90th birthday party.