Monday, 16 September 2013

Ascending Light

My Grandma has been unconscious for a few days. She passed away at about 4pm this afternoon. She used to be a spritely, elegant lady when I knew her best - my favourite memories are sitting in cafes with her, me drinking strawberry juice and her drinking coffee and sketching people. She always used to put her lipstick on at the table after lunch, and we would both mimic her and make fun of her. She always wore a dainty gold chain and pearl clip on earrings. Red Door by Elizabeth Arden was her favourite perfume. She used to bake poppy seed cake for us and a wonderful baked cheese cake. She played piano, but never in front of other people. I remember always going to the National Gallery and to a matinee at the theatre when she came to visit, and she would always stay in a hotel in Russell Square (until she got a flat in London).  She used to go for a walk every day and get a coffee in the cafe Atara on Aza Street. When she moved to her retirement home, she used to walk down to the theatre for her coffee.

The last few years have been hard on her - she hated doing her morning exercises that the carer made her do. She stopped setting her hair, she gradually wore her housecoat more and more. She stopped coming into the living room for coffee and eventually just stayed in bed. The last two or three years she has not gotten out of bed when I came to visit. I would sit by her bed and hold her hand and talk to her. The talking became less and less as time went on. She has been one of my greatest inspirations in life, and I'm delighted when I say that I am slowly turning into her over the years. I'm sad to have lost her, but her influence lives on in my painting, knitting, sewing and baking. I hope she is in a better place now.

Things my Grandma told me:

* 'Always say thank you. Even when you're crossing the road and the drivers can't hear you, they can still tell.'

* 'You drink coffee? Good quality coffee. I have my coffee once a day, it's a treat, a special occasion.'

* 'Don't save all your money. Have enough, but spend a little from time to time. Enjoy it.'

* 'You have a belief? That's very important. I never thought about those things when I was young, I didn't think I needed to, and now I'm an old woman and I see things differently. Having a belief, a faith makes life easier, I see that in you.'

* 'As long as you are a human being, a decent human being, that is the best thing. See that you treat people well, that you think about people.'

* 'When I was young, the clothes lasted for years. I used to get so bored, always the same clothes. Now you have all these new things all the time. So what if they don't last that long, isn't it fun to be able to change your clothes every year?'

* 'We went to all these different countries, your grandfather and I. I loved it! Even though I couldn't speak the language, you point they point, you smile at people they smile back. It was lovely. Lovely! If you have the opportunity to travel, take it.'

* 'My mother told me that good women don't wear purple. They brought out those ready to wear clothes in the shops, as soon as I saw that they do trousers in purple, I bought them. And how!'

* 'All these new art movements now, I don't know, where they put out a chair with some cake on it and call it art, when I was younger I didn't like them. Middle aged people are so judgmental. But now that I'm old, I look at it and say 'oh, well, that's interesting.' I think sometimes you really have to look at something, to learn not to mind things that are so different from your tastes. Then the things around you become interesting.'

* 'What are you doing with your life? Oh well, it's not so important. As long as you're satisfied with your life, that's the most important thing.'

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