On the 7th of September, I had to say goodbye to a truly wonderful lady. Gillian, or as I knew her, Great Granny. She passed away on the 19th of August 2018 at the amazing age of 97. Although I am utterly heartbroken, I have to keep reminding myself of how very privileged I feel to have been able to know such an inspirational person for 18 whole years. Many people don’t get to meet their great grandmother, so getting to spend time with her throughout my whole childhood and into adulthood feels like a blessing. I thought I would write a little about her and my memories of her.
She was such a special woman who really cared about every single person she knew. We were reminiscing about how she would always remember exactly what was going on in your life even if you hadn’t spoken to her in months. She was so genuinely interested in everyone’s passions. My mum’s writing, my cousin’s cricket matches, my photography. Everything. She never missed a birthday or an important date. I got my A-Level results back on the 16th of August, 3 days before she passed away, yet she still remembered and was eager to call me to hear how I got on. This is a quality that I really hope I have learned from her.
I still can’t quite believe we will never get to visit her flat, chat to her about our school lives, friendship dramas, achievements and everything in between as we sat around her living room drinking tea and eating biscuits. She truly was such a wise Great Granny, leaving a space in my (and I’m sure everyone’s) life that we will never be able to fill.
She was just 18 when the 2nd World War started, and quickly joined the WAAF as a RADAR operator. How insanely crazy is that? I’m 18 now and couldn’t imagine doing something like that. It just shows the kind of person she was. Apparently, she and her friends were given more responsibilities than ever before and got to dance with many handsome airmen!
In her eulogy, we also heard how everyone she knew told her, “Gillian, you are amazing”. And it was true, she was amazing. Only a few months before she passed away, she was walking with us around a lake, and only a little while before that she was getting coaches all the way to Bath on her own. In fact, she was told how amazing she was so much, she banned the phrase completely after her doctor said it shortly before she slipped over on the ice and broke her wrist!
I have so many memories with my Great Granny that I will treasure forever. For example, the time she made me pod a GIANT bowl of peas because apparently peas from a bag are not the same. It took me what felt like hours, but the meal she made for us at the end was completely worth it.
Many, many years ago, she took my cousin and I to the local fair near her house. Where she let us play the game where you throw all three balls into the bucket and win a fish. I’m not completely sure you’re still allowed to give gold fish out as prizes… Anyway, I got all three balls in the precariously angled bucket, and won a fish! Possibly my proudest achievement of my life. Unfortunately I wasn’t allowed to put it on my CV. I named the fish Terri after my cousin who was there at the time, and it lived for 6 years! Longest living gold fish I’ve ever had.
She knew I collected stamps (no, your hobbies are boring), so every letter she received she would cut out the stamps, package them all up and send them to me. Such a simple thing, but it really meant so much to me.
I will miss her so very much, but I am thankful to have had her in my life. I know after knowing her, I am a better person.