02/06/2017

I often wonder, would you be proud of me?

It's a question I often ask myself when I achieve something in life - "I wonder if my grandma would be proud of me?"

Growing up, my grandma was my absolute idol. I spent so much of my time with her and she taught me so many things - from nursery rhymes to how to be a good person.

When she died, in 2003, I was absolutely heartbroken. It was my first real experience of losing someone, and it was so hard.

I'd not long since started at high school, so was still learning to adapt to that big change, when suddenly I had another life-changing event to get my head around. I was only 11, I didn't really know how to handle loss.

The only thing I'd ever lost before then were pets, and I'd usually forgotten they even existed - only learning of their passing months after they'd been buried in the garden.

At 25, I've now had more years on this earth without my grandma than I had with. It's weird to think of that, because so many key memories in my life she is a part of.

Every single Christmas she used to come to our house. We used to only be allowed to open the presents in our stockings until dad had picked grandma up. Then we opened all our presents from Father Christmas, family and friends before having dinner.

I remember, every year, comparing her to the Queen when she wore the paper hat out of her cracker.

Days at her house were always fun, too, even though she struggled to be mobile. Whether it was insisting on emptying her kitchen cupboards onto the sofa so we could play shop, or writing her lunch order on a scrap piece of paper and fetching it from the kitchen during my 'wannabe waitress' stage. I remember, so vividly, us walking to the butchers in Brayton to get lunch, getting fresh fish from town and covering it in breadcrumbs to make fish and chips, and always finishing off any trip to her house with an egg custard.

I still eat my egg custards in the way she taught me, and think of her every time.

I remember, too, promising never to eat Aunt Bessie's Yorkshire puddings again after she made them to go with my tea one night and they were burnt to a crisp. I was at her house when my nana rang her while she was cooking tea. My nana could talk for England and kept her on the phone for so long that the Yorkshire puddings were like bits of charcoal. They weren't like mum's homemade ones, and I just always associated Aunt Bessie's with burnt from then on. To this day, I don't think I've had an Aunt Bessie's Yorkshire pud since!

Any concerts we did at school, or with choir, grandma was always there. She bought CDs and kept every single programme from every performance we were ever in. She also kept all the newspaper clippings from whenever we appeared in the paper. She was always so, so proud.

Since I was 11, I've obviously achieved lots in my life.

GCSEs, A-Levels, my degree, passing my driving test, landing a job in my dream career, buying a house, getting married...

I think the biggest life event, which I wished my grandma could have been at, was obviously my wedding. I so wish Tom could have met her, I know she'd have loved him as much as I do.

As we were getting ready, on the morning of the wedding, I had a little moment where I imagined what she'd be like if she was still here. I could picture her, proud as punch, smiling and enjoying the whole day. Of course, all while modelling a whopping great big hat.

I feel silly, sometimes, basing decisions I make in my life on the opinions of someone who is no longer here, and hasn't been for over a decade. I always wonder what she'd make of things I do - what she'd say to me, how she'd advise, and how she'd judge. Because, ooh, she loved to pass judgement on everything! It was brilliant.

I remember every time I used to say "oh my God" she used to give me a sideways glance, telling me off for saying "God" in that way.

Or if I said I was "knackered" - not that I truly knew what that was at 10-years-old - I'd get the same look. The look that you knew meant you weren't to say that in her presence again.

Now, looking back, I probably realise it was more a look of "how on earth can you say you're knackered when you're a child?!"

I do things now that my grandma used to do - I can definitely see her in me.

Whenever she used to come for Sunday dinner she used to sit at the head of the table, facing the window. The window looked out onto our street, and grandma was forever leaning from side to side, trying to see past my dad, to get a look at what was going on.

I, too, do exactly the same. I'll be sat in our lounge, and someone will walk past on the street, and I'll straight away turn to see who it is and what's going on.

As soon as I've done it, I smile to myself, realising my nosey streak has definitely been inherited from my grandma.

Similarly, when someone is eating something straight from the oven/microwave and gasps, saying it's too hot. I always say "because it's come from a hot place!" She used to say that to me every single time, and it so annoyed me. Now I annoy others.

Ooh, grandma would've hated me for referring to her as 'she' there. It was always "who's she? The cat's mother?!"

She hated anything other than 'grandma' too. Granny/gran was a straight up no.

My love of weddings definitely came from my grandma, too. When I was little, and she used to look after me for the day, we used to nip into the back of Brayton church if we saw there was a wedding on. I remember sitting there, in the pew on the back row, with my grandma and auntie Vera watching some randoms get married. I was as obsessed as she was.

It's so weird that my grandma was Dorothy, and Tom's grandmas shared the same name. Grandma Dot reminds me soooo much of my grandma, I would've loved to have seen the two of them together - they'd have been a hoot!

I would have loved to have had more years with my grandma. For her to share in all the exciting things that we have all achieved in our lives and to continue passing on her pearls of wisdom. But, I know, she'll be looking down bursting with pride - and occasionally wanting to berate me for my potty mouth.

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