Tuesday, 20 April 2010

buttons and fury

Having got through the funeral of my nan this week, I have been pondering exactly what she taught me over and above all the tiny , everyday things she taught me. I am sat counting the buttons from my inherited nan button box, and thinking. These buttons were money in "shops", treasure for pirates, and something to use for barter. I am so happy to have them.

Most of all, I think Nan taught me that you have to consider other people's feelings, and a sense of duty. Well do I remember one Saturday morning when my cousin Rachel and I had been taken erranding with Nan. This involved doing the shopping, not just for Nan and Grandad and More Nans (my great gran. I couldn't get my lips round Great Gran, so settled for More Nans), but for various elderly ladies situated nearby. It was Rachels and I's great chore to go into their house and give them their shopping and endure a half hours conversation with the ladies. One time, Rachel and I created an awful fuss about the way the house smelt, which was, basically, of elderly unattended lady with a continency problem. We were, what, 7 ish? Nan made her excuses from the antimacassared confines of the lady in questions lounge,and royally rounded on us on the green outside. How dare we? Did we not consider the feelings of the lady? I do not remember the exact words, but I do remember how utterly ashamed I felt. Consequently, I don't think Rachel or I ever complained again about going on those missions with my Nan. And every time I see a neighbour who is elderly now, I speak to them, and build a relationship. I even have a relationship of sorts with the flourescent hatted Special Brew drinking pensioner who sits by the Police Station every morning as I pass to go to playgroup. The kids say hi to her, although I wouldn't let her breathe on them. I can only think, now, how those women must have treasured my nan's visits, and the chatter of us younger ones, in lieu of their own, more neglectful relatives. And how generous of my Nan, her whole life, to do this. Even in her 80's she worked in a Toq-H charity shop. Her thought for others makes me astounded.

All of the grandchildren probably have a Nan-Fury to remember. I bet my Cousin Tim remembers the one that he got for trapping my thumb in the sunbed.

The other thing she taught me is that every generation has its' own angers. What made my mum furious with me (nose rings, pink hair) really didn't bother my nan at all. "She'll calm down" Nan would say, and then tell me about the time mum bunked off school. As an adult now, I can see how cleverly Nan was a median between Mum and me, how she negotiated the pitfalls, and how she encouraged us all to meet halfway. Even if Mum and I were not talking, Nan would phone and pretend not to know what was going on, and somehow sooth everything.

I would like a legacy for Nan. I want a physical one, something in the garden for me to remember, but the best one would be if our family stuck together more, the way Nan would like us to.

1 comment:

The List Writer said...

Grandmothers are such good buffers between mothers and daughters - and I think it was ever thus. Mine operated in a very similar way.