Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Birthday Tribute

Today is my Granny's birthday. Even though she is no longer alive, I always send a "Happy Birthday" greeting heavenward on February 18th.

When I mentioned the date this morning as I awoke in bed, even Mike perked up and said, "Oh it is? Are we going to celebrate it?" He knows Granny is/was one of my favorite people in the whole world. As evidenced by a handful of recent experiences too sacred to share, I believe Granny is one of my biggest cheerleaders as I plow through life.

I'm still debating whether or not I'll actually make her trademark chocolate cake with walnuts on top to celebrate the day, but I do know as we sit around the dinner table tonight I will share with my family some of my favorite memories of her. It'll go something like this...

I love that Granny always had time for us grandchildren. Whenever I wanted to sleep over at her house, she rarely hesitated, I spent many, many Friday nights sleeping over with her. Our evenings often included cheese and crackers, and sometimes ice cream and wafers. Before bed, I'd wait patiently in the kitchen watching her kettle come to a boil, while she seemed to take forever getting ready for bed in the bathroom. She would then come out, pour her hot water into a mug to take upstairs to bed. We'd share her small double bed, and she would lay there doing a crossword puzzle (I NEVER inherited that love from her), and I would read a book.

Saturday mornings always found her up and early already downstairs with the mornings paper. After breakfast of usually toast and jam, I would accompany on her Saturday morning shops for a neighbor. And there were one or two occasions I spent a Saturday with her while she volunteered at one of her favorite charity shops.

Tonight as I celebrate Granny's birthday, I'll tell my children that Granny didn't shower us with a lot of things, unless it was Christmas or birthdays, but she showered us with love and attention. When Granny was around she rarely turned us down to either do a puzzle or play a game. I'll tell them the stories they have heard over and over about games of Consequence and Scrabble.

(Christmas morning 1983, Granny, me and my new bike)

I'll tell my children about Granny's back garden, her greenhouse, and her old shed that I can still smell in my mind. I'll tell them that I never liked the apples she bought, about the bag full of rolls of tape she had in her cabinet, and I'll impersonate the way she answered the telephone. I'll tell them about the umbrellas that filled the hooks by her front door, her little spin washer, the clothes line in the back garden that I always asked to hang clothes on, the always full biscuit tin, and the spoons we always mixed our orange squash with. I'll tell them about the way Granny always waved goodbye to us from her front porch, and the sweets she carried in her purse for the drive home from church. I'll them about her tendency to be nosy, and at times, a little bit ditzy.

I'll tell them about my last stay with Granny in 1996 and talking to her about Mike. I'll tell them how thrilled I was that she came to Utah for my wedding 7 months later, and how sad I am I didn't spend more time with her then. I'll tell them about our trip to England in October 2000 to introduce Megan to Granny. Only to have Megan only able to visit with Granny in her home for a couple of hours one Sunday evening--long enough for Megan to break a glass bottle of ketchup on her kitchen floor. I'll tell them how I felt when I said goodbye to her at the end of that trip, knowing it was the last time I'd see her in this life.
(Granny--Violet Eliza, me and Megan Eliza, October 2000)

One of my favorite possessions is my Granny's journal/diary. As an avid journal writer myself, I am drawn to her recordings of the everyday. Granny's journal is much more of a diary describing the days events and much less of deep thoughts and feelings. Yet, there are a handful of days, that though her words are brief, her sentiments are felt. I often think about my Granny on March 29, 1988 waving goodbye to my family, her only child and grandchildren as we drove away to the airport, leaving for a new life in the United States. She doesn't say much about it in her diary that day except, "Chris and Peter and children flew from Gatwick at 3pm for America. Spent the evening at Betty's (her best friend) as I miss them so."

Maybe I won't make chocolate cake with walnuts, and I probably can't find a bouquet of daffodils to set on my kitchen table (one of her favorite flowers), but I will spend plenty of time today remembering one of my favorite people and sharing some of my most personal memories.
(Granny in 1996 next to grave of her mother and husband.)

"What you leave behind is not what is engraved in stone monuments, but what is woven into the lives of others."
~Pericles



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