Tuesday, 8 January 2013


Grandma & Me 1974

Before Christmas my Grandma died.  She was 101 and 3/4. It was a simple end to a simple life. Not an easy life, not an uneventful life. A life that was grounded in simplicity.  She lived in her home for 72 years from the day that she married. She raised five children and went on to have many grandchildren and great grandchildren. Faith and family formed the focus of her life. She grew her own vegetables and kept chickens. She listened to the world. It amazed me how Grandma could live through two world wars, and so much change, and yet remain relentlessly positive and understanding. Her hands were riddled with arthritis but so expressive. Her smile was joyful.

At her funeral I was given a bag of all the cards and letters I have ever sent her. From my first attempts at writing, through to descriptions of teenage routines and on to university. There were letters prior to my wedding and letters when I was expecting my first child and descriptions of learning how to have my own family. In books and boxes and drawers, I have all her responses to these letters. Her letters always full of humour and encouragement. She believed in me.

Last summer, the last time I saw her,  I sat with her whilst she crocheted. She told me of the orphanage in Zambia that received the blankets that she made. She lived her life like she crocheted, one stitch at a time. One block tacked to another. Full of colour. Time and love given freely.

It has been a reflective time, as winter can be. I have been so fortunate to have a Grandma all the way to thirty nine. I have resolved to write letters to keep her memory alive and to strive to lead my life with faith and hope, to take the simple path and to believe in the journey.

Sketchbook page 2009

My Grandma is the smallest girl in the photo.  Her Grandma is in the middle of the photo.  The others are my Grandma's cousins.

Rebecca Mary Dean, nee Brittain


Margaret said...

that is so lovely.

Julie said...

Your grandmother has a wonderful happy face. My grandmother died in 1980 at the age of 79 when I was 30 and I still miss her. Like you I attribute a lot of who I am to her and I miss her every day.

Anonymous said...

A very touching story. Thank you for sharing! K. xxx

Introverted Art said...

wow, I hope to live and depart like your sweet grandma.

sue bulmer said...

Helen this is a lovely post, it brought a tear to my eye! How lovely to have all of those memories x

Ann said...

A touching post - keep your memories of your grandmother for the future and most importantly write them down. What a comfort all those letters must be.

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