(Scroll down for the walkies post)
Today's the first anniversary of my Gran's death. I bought some flowers for her a couple of weeks ago. Might get some more tomorrow if they're still in the shops.
Gran's influence on my life is hard to put into words. With some much upheaval and crap in my family over the years, the well-behaved members have been a bit overlooked. When I was a kid Gran and Granddad were a safe harbour in a frightening world. They didn't wail and weep and make mountains out of molehills, the very opposite in fact. They were always calm and thoughtful.
You weren't allowed to fart in front of Gran but then she didn't go ballistic if you did, not like my grandfather on the other side of the family who went right off if you walked in front of the telly while the races were on. He died when I was small but while he was alive he was very irritable and quite scary if you ventured into his shed. And Nana was a drama queen and wrung every tiny droplet of drama out of every single bloody situation, so Gran and Granddad were quite restful in comparison.
After my other grandfather died, Nana gave her histrionic tendencies free reign. She was a noisy griever, which is fair enough, but she never got any quieter and she's never been happy unless she's miserable. She was quite miserable sitting on her bum waiting for someone to entertain her so she sat on her bum waiting for someone to entertain her.
When Granddad died Gran was in a bad way. They'd not long celebrated their fiftieth wedding anniversary and they had a happy marriage. But a couple of months after he died Gran demanded the family typewriter and taught herself to type. When she'd exhausted the possibilities of typing she was given a computer and taught herself to use that. She wrote emails to my aunt in America and looked up recipes and amusing homilies. She printed things out and stuck them on her pinboard. She went for a walk every single day and enjoyed other people's gardens and she didn't brood over things.
When I was a kid I hardly knew my aunts and uncles and cousins. We didn't associate with them much. When I left Perth as an adult I had even less contact with them. Gran was the steady only contact I've with my family for ten years. We didn't talk much about my father and that suited me right down to the ground. I used to ring her every week or so and we'd talk about small things, lovely plants we'd seen in other people's gardens, nice outings I'd taken her and Granddad on, history docos we'd seen on the telly.
We rarely argued. She'd quizz me about my eating habits and guilt me about not getting enough veggies and exercise but she never harangued me. I'd ask her about her health and if she'd been feeling dizzy again and she'd tell me her health worries, things she couldn't say to anyone in person. I'd help her word a note to (her daughter) Jean about it so Jean would get the message but Gran didn't have to say it out loud. The notes went on the pinboard for Jean and that way Gran got to the doctor when she needed to without having to expose her fears.
She was always quiet and neat and never gossiped, a typical upper working class Scot of her generation. She had a dread of making a fuss but she knew when not to hide things. She was always rational and calm. She didn't ignore the world but she knew when to shut it out. In the last year or so she started to forget who'd been born and who'd died but she was still the rock she'd always been. All my life, whenever things have been shitty, she's always been there at the calm quiet centre of the world.