This decluttering isn’t going too well. Ida and I spent the day with my G’ma today which was, as usual, very lovely but I came away with bags of stuff. One of the things was an old national trust calendar that she found while clearing out a cupboard. It’s one year older than me and has a very sinister cormorant on July’s page.
I try to recycle it but am prevented by Zeph. He thinks it’s an antique. With a completely straight face he points out it’s a year older than me. There is a pregnant pause while I eye him suspiciously. Recently it’s been harder to see when he’s teasing me. I spy a smirk at the corner of his mouth. Gah.
We also have a bag of bulbs that she and Ida had a lovely muddy time ransacking from her garden. The lawn is awash with the most delicate fairy snowdrops you can imagine. She’s the kind of gardener who knows the latin names…and the common ones. She doesn’t do veg though, “Oh darling I had enough of that in the war..”
I usually manage to pillage a bit of something when we visit. She also has lots of birds visiting various tables and feeders. When we left today I had to get a cloth to wipe the snotty patch Ida had left as she pressed up against the window watching her favourites.
I love all my family but my G’ma is definitely very special to me. I find her endlessly admirable. She is highly opinionated but I could never predict which way she’ll swing. Always refreshingly open-minded she has her own prejudices – mostly against interference of any kind. Woe betide you busybody do gooder. I was privileged to witness the dressing down a poor pompous GP received when he told her not to start smoking.
I’m constantly torn between irritation and amusement at her immense bloody minded selfish streak. She freely and airily admits to selfishness – and I love it. Personally I identify it as a really clear sense of self. She was the oldest girl and did a lot of bringing up of her younger sister and brother. When my Nannie, her mum, tried to put paid to the scholarship she won to art school because she wanted her to stay home and help she went out the next day and joined up.
She had a busy and fulfilling war with its own privations and sorrows and when she was demobbed took up her place at the Royal Academy of Art in London but couldn’t settle and eventually married my Grandpa who she’d met in Egypt in murky circumstances during the war. Recently I’ve found out he’d divorced a previous wife in this hiatus. He was quite a lot older than her and she nursed him through Alzheimer’s, ten years at home before his last couple in a care home. She displayed immense compassion and fortitude and is adamant she will not leave the home they designed and built together and I believe every damn word she says.
Her appreciation of beauty runs through her like a stripe through seaside rock. My mum remembers with a shudder visiting when I was a toddler and having to watch me from over the table eating from precious china and swigging wine and water from an antique crystal wineglass – “beautiful things are made to be used dear..”
And she’s brilliantly snobby in her own way as well. I clearly remember her correcting my pronunciation as a child, “you sound as though you’re from Gloucester darling” ” I am from Gloucester G’ma” “Yes but nobody needs to know that daaaarling”
My main BT’s today are all bound up in watching her interact with Ida. They are absolute soul mates. Over coffee she says it’s because Ida has not yet learnt all the ridiculous, polite, denying your true self behavior you have to do to co-exist with other people and she is too old to be bothered with it.
I eat the last scone. Because I want it. “Are you practising selfishness or greed dear?” I think it’s both.