My Grandma's Legacy

My Grandma loved reading my blog. I still remember sitting in her kitchen, telling her about it for the first time because I couldn't believe a company was actually paying me to write a post (this post). Every time I visited, she'd ask how it was coming along and loved hearing about all the different opportunities I had. She always loved it when I wrote a post about her so it seems right that I pen this one now.

Grandma
On Sunday, my grandma passed away. She'd been very ill for a very long time so it didn't come as a shock. I last saw her a week before her death and was able to tell her all about my masters. Seeing her face brighten as I told her and managing to hear her say "How lovely!" was the most wonderful way I can imagine saying goodbye. Knowing I made her proud in the last days of her life makes me so happy.

It's this feeling of happiness and gratitude that I want to hold onto. Of course I feel sad but, having had several years to prepare for this time, I'm in a place where I can peacefully look back at everything I gained from having my grandma in my life. 

At her funeral, I'll be reading from her favourite book, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. She bought me a copy for Christmas when I was 15 and it instantly became my favourite book too. Over the past year, I'd been taking it with me every time I visited and reading a few chapters to her. As she found it difficult to communicate, and was unable to read for herself anymore, it was a nice way to spend the time- she passed this wonderful book on to me and now I could return the favour. I've chosen a passage from the book just after- spoiler alert- the protagonist's father dies:

If what granma said is true, then it must be that no one ever dies, really. Papa is gone, but he's still here in many ways. He's here in Neeley who looks just like him and in mama who knew him so long. He's here in his mother who began him and is still living. Maybe I will have a boy one day who looks like papa and has all of papa's good. And that boy will have a boy. And that boy will have a boy. It might be there is no real death.

This has got me thinking about how my grandma is here in me, how she has influenced me and shaped my life, and how that will, in turn, shape the lives of my own future children and grandchildren.

READING

Reading was my grandma's greatest passion in life. She read constantly right up until the point she was physically unable to hold books. When she finished with books, she would pass them on to me, some of which I shared in this video. As a three year old, she taught me to read using the Janet and Allen Ahlberg book Peepo! which I absolutely loved. From that moment on, I forever had a book in my hand. It was my grandparents who bought me my first Harry Potter books and sparked a love affair with the wizarding world. I genuinely believe my love of reading is the reason behind all of my success in life, and it's thanks to my grandma.

TEACHING

In the 60s, my grandma trained to become a teacher. By the time I started school- in her school, no less- she was a headteacher. Instead of using the official Mrs Lastname title in school, as I was supposed to, I insisted on calling her Grandma. In fact, one of my friends started calling her Grandma too! Oops! When I told her that I'd decided against becoming an interior designer and was in fact going to train as a teacher myself, she cried tears of joy. Throughout my studies, she was on hand with advice and guidance, and I even lived with her for a year towards the end of my degree. Once I'd started my own career, I turned to her for wise words and she had a solution for everything. You see, she was an exceptional teacher. Earlier in the week, I shared news of her death on Facebook since so many of my old school friends are on there, and reading people's memories of her has been a beautiful experience. One girl passed on a message from her mum and another has asked if she'll be welcome at the funeral. Knowing my grandma had such a positive influence on so many lives is inspiring and drives me forward every day.

ACADEMIA

My grandma was hands-down the most intelligent person I've ever known. She thrived on learning and her general knowledge was just something else. Whenever she and my grandad went on holiday (which was a lot), they would return with armfuls P&O-branded gifts that they'd won in the evening quizzes. Umbrellas, alarm clocks, wallets... You name it, they had it! Unfortunately I didn't inherit my grandma's genius with numbers but she certainly fostered an insatiable hunger for knowledge. 

LOVE OF TRAVEL

As I said, my grandparents were always travelling. They favoured cruises around Europe but also visited America (North and South), Asia, Africa... Basically everywhere except the North and South Poles! We'd often be watching TV together and suddenly one of them would say "We've been there!" Whether it was the Amazon rainforest or the Great Wall of China, you could guarantee they'll have visited at some point in their lives. Until I was 11, they'd take my brother and I on a yearly holiday to exciting places- Pompeii, Santorini, 
Barcelona... Now that I'm older and starting to focus on travel myself, I've felt the urge to follow in my grandparents' footsteps. Standing under the famous South Rose Window at Notre Dame and remembering watching The Hunchback of Notre Dame while hearing about their trip to the cathedral, or looking at the huge organ in Mondsee Church and suddenly hearing my grandad's voice saying "We've been there!", as if he was right beside me, is a hugely powerful experience for me. 

CLOTHES

No word of a lie- When my grandparents downsized into a flat, my grandma filled nine single wardrobes and 28 drawers. That was after downsizing! She adored clothes and always looked so stylish! Although she loved a bit of Stella McCartney and Chloe, she was also obsessed with Primark, never able to enter a branch without leaving with something. Now I don't quite have nine wardrobes but I do have a huge amount of clothes and I put this down to all the fun I had playing in my grandma's extensive closet. She was also a fan of high end make up and once proudly told me she would only wear one particular NARS blusher- I never had the guts to ask her which shade! 

LOVE & RESPECT

My Grandma was the most tolerant, respectful person I ever met. She always saw the best in everyone and refused to say anything nasty to- or about- a single person. In 2013, while talking about the legalisation of same-sex marriage, she said "I'm so happy that in my lifetime I've seen the day that people are free to marry whoever they love". Not only that, but she always had the best advice. No matter what happened, she knew exactly what to say to make me feel better and you know what? She was always right. She was a big proponent of the ol' "this too shall pass" school of thought, which is something I try to live my life by. Although I could never dream of being as strong, wise or understanding as my grandma, I certainly try to apply the lessons she taught me in life and strive to be more like her with every passing day. 

When her health started to deteriorate more rapidly, a carer would pop in to my grandma's flat and help out. For a while, the carer brought along a young student, who formed a strong bond with my grandma. As time passed, she began to feel more comfortable around her and would ask for advice with her family or boyfriend troubles. Of course, my grandma did what she did best and shared her words of wisdom. One day, she said "Jean, I wish you were my grandma". When my grandma relayed this tale to me, I felt like my heart would burst from pride (and a bit from smugness). 

She inspired so many people in her 80+ years. It would be impossible to count how many people had a positive impact on their lives because of her. People were wishing that she was related to them. And she was my grandma. She brought me up, she was always there for me, she was my biggest champion. I was her granddaughter, and there are no words to describe how proud I am to be able to say that 

PREVIOUS POSTS

My grandma was a regular feature on the blog and always attracted lovely comments. Here are some of the posts that included her:

Interview with my Grandma- Part One and Part Two
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn
A Visit from my Family
Visiting Grandma
7 Things I Learned from Home Videos
The Language of Love
My Grandma's Wedding Ring
My Memorable Christmas Moments
Scent Memories
Bloglovin' // Twitter // Instagram

16 comments:

  1. So Sorry for your loss. This was a wonderful post to read xx

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  2. I am so so sorry darling 😘 You must be devastated. I love my Nana very much- it's a very special bond and I'm sending big hugs and good thoughts. This is a beautiful post X

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  3. This is a beautiful post about your Grandma, I'm sorry to hear about your loss. She sounds like a truly remarkable human that left her kind touch on many people. I wish I could spend more time with my Grandparents, they're all on the other side of the world. <3

    Sally - DiagonSally

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  4. A really beautiful tribute. I'm sure she was just as proud to have you in her life. X

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  5. Becky, I'm so so sorry to read this. Your grandma sounds like an amazing lady and its brilliant that you have so many lovely memories with her. Thinking on you xx

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  6. This was a really beautiful post, Becky. I'm glad you can treasure all the special qualities in life that your Grandma gave you. I'm sorry for your loss, she sounds like an incredible woman xx

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  7. What a beautiful post. I'm so sorry for your loss- your Grandma sounds like an amazing woman! My Gran brought me up from birth and I truly believe having someone from an older generation influence your life so hugely is a blessing. Not many people have that kind of relationship with their grandparents. We are lucky! I bet your grandma would have loved reading this post too xxx

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  8. This bought a tear to my eye and shiver to my spine. I'm so sorry for your loss xx

    https://57-days.blogspot.co.uk/2016/07/22-reasons-to-thank-my-friends.html

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  9. Oh Becky, I'm really sorry to hear that. This is a lovely tribute to your grandma - she sounds like the most wonderful and brilliant woman. Thinking of you - hope you're doing OK.

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  10. Sorry to hear of your loss, this is a beautiful tribute to your Grandma Becky XX

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  11. So sorry for your loss. What a beautiful tribute to your grandmother, though. x www.aimeeraindropwrites.co.uk x

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  12. What a beautiful post. I'm so sorry for your loss but it sounds like your grandmother was a wonderful person and I'm sure she'll be proud x

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  13. I'm sorry for your loss, I actually shed a few tears reading this. You write about her so beautifully it's so wonderful to see, she seems like she's an amazing person <3 x

    - Eternalleigh.blogspot.com

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  14. Hi Becky, what a wonderful tribute to mummy, it made me cry. Perhaps we should read some of it at her funeral.

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  15. So sorry to hear of your Grandma's passing, however this was a really beautiful post to read, so lovely that your Grandma touched the hearts of so many people.

    Katee x
    www.katevoneff.blogspot.co.uk

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  16. Oh, this was so lovely to read. Just from what you've written, I would think that your Grandma would be looking down in pride. What a wonderful tribute to her life.

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