Today I will say goodbye to my nan. It’s also the day the new little life that’s been growing in my tummy for the past 40 weeks is estimated by the medical profession (albeit very roughly) to enter the world. A funeral and a due date wrapped into one. To say it’s a day of confusing emotions is an understatement. Yes, there will be grief but also celebration of my nan’s life, and mixed in with this I also have the overwhelming feeling of love and irrepressible excitement about meeting the new little baby Mr J and I have created – a brother or sister for our lovely little girl.
My sister and I will be reading a short eulogy at nan’s funeral today. Writing this was something we both put off initially. It seemed too difficult. But as is often the case for me, writing it gave me clarity and a sense of perspective that I’ve found not just comforting but inspiring. It helped me remember with a smile what my nan has given me, how she has influenced me and understand how her legacy can (and will) continue through my family. So today my sister and I will say these words in honour of our nan. To say thank you and to celebrate her. Nan, I hope you’re listening.
Saturdays were always our day with Nanny and Grandad Halford when we were little. And we loved it. While mum and dad did some very boring shopping and other tiresome chores, we were dropped off at their house for the afternoon. We would dance around to their old records – Shakin Stevens, Nat King Cole and some classics from the war years – we played dress up in nan’s clothes (even her wedding dress), ate nan’s culinary speciality – cheesy beans on toast, watched the Sound of Music, Dirty Dancing and Pretty Woman on repeat, picked up a few card tricks and learnt the art of patience and generally got away with complete murder. Nan and Grandad would embrace the inevitable chaos and mess we bought and we would soak up their giggles and attention as they laughed at us dancing and acting like complete fools.
As children, Saturdays were fun. As adults, and parents now ourselves, memories of these times mean so much more. All of our grandparents have been such an important part of our upbringing, each having their own impact on the adults and parents we have become. For Nanny Halford, we’ll always remember the warmth, fondness and cheeky giggles with which she recounted stories of her early courtship with granddad and stories of the mischief dad would get into as a youngster – it shows the love, generosity and pride she showed for her family. Then there was the closeness she always had with her sisters and her knack for turning acquaintances into long-term friends. The way she so whole-heartedly made our husbands feel part of the family, loyally watching out for Mike’s name on the closing credits of his shows and proudly creating scrapbooks of Si’s rugby achievements.
Then there was her ability to embrace opportunities and instinctive tendency to say ‘yes’ to any invitations that came her way. She was an expert at seeking out the fun in life, whether it was through her foreign travels, finding and organising the best five day break deals for her coach loads of friends or seeking her fortune in the bingo halls of Dudley. And finally, the strength, courage, determination and dignity with which she conquered serious illness, old age and last year’s accident. It’s these virtues that inspire us and we will now pass on to her great grandchildren.
Thank you for everything you have given us nan. We love you.