Sunday, November 23, 2008


Before I went to Japan I visited my Grandmother's house to say goodbye which I thought could be for the last time (it wasn't). We stood at the gate by the massive green hedge and talked...she said she had had a good life 'living vicariously through others' with a rye smile and a laugh.

It is so hard to describe her. there just aren't the right adjectives-regal? a matriach, intelligent definitely, amazing vocabulary, articulate, humorous with words but cutting at times-she could mow someone down with just a few words it was scary to watch and later she would say "Amy...I've been bad" meaning I mowed someone down with words this morning! I am sure she regretted it and half enjoyed it especially if it was a really good insult or mental one-up.

She recited poetry word for word and French and corrected our pronunciation and showed us around her garden describing the plants with such tenderness; the pansies with the little faces near the front steps, tea roses on the side fences, geraniums with vibrant colours, orchids near the front door near Sarah's hanging shells which we would jingle before I left to go home.. We would skip the overgrown bits "Don't look in there". She was powerful she loved words she was a lady.

I still cannot grasp the fact that she died- I never thought she would allow it!
The last few months in hospital were pretty amazing; everyone was over its was like she could allow herself to soften up a little. She looked really pretty and vulnerable and would allow more emotion than usual but if we cried she reminded us that "noone in this family cries" to which I laughed and said "what? we all cry all the time!". She worked really hard to answer everyone's questions though she must have been exhausted.

Recently I went to her house, I mean the space were her house used to be. It used to be a huge grande dame of a house with terracotta tiles and lots of rooms amazing. I watched the new owners pull it apart like scavengers on a whale carcass. The tiles went, the cast iron kookaburra stove pulled out, the beams exposed for weeks whilst it rained into Grandmother's rooms. I am determined to remember every detail of that house as it was- I can still walk through it if I'm up to it but its pretty raw.

It was Julie's beautiful post which prompted me to finally write this all down. Recently I went to Grandmother's and for the first time it was all gone. Everything except the oak tree she had planted 50 years ago, though they nearly had that taken down too weren't it not for people ringing the council. Every other single shrub, flower, tree pulled up and the hedges days would be numbered. I balled my eyes out.

The neighbours must see this trickle of people visiting her block walking around like ghosts dealing with it, fathoming it. I had this sudden urge to find some evidence of her life there for 60 years. I searched and searched for ages but nothing except crushed bits of terracotta roof tiles and then I blue cat's eye marble the colour of her eyes. Perfect.

The circle of life.
One blue marble.


humanbean said...

You have to keep that - that was a bit of a shock actually - I didn't really want to see the plot without the house so I had to skip really fast past that photograph - cause I can't bear to let that house not exist any more...and grandmother too

umbrellabella said...

Ok hon I took that photo off xox

Nanette said...

That's indeed a beautiful circle of life and what wonderful memories of your Grandmother and her home you have.

Anonymous said...

you write so beautifully Amy, it is so nice that you can share and keep this memory and story in pictures

humanbean said...

Dear Amy
That was a really generous gesture - thankyou...wasn't angry or anything - just took me off guard a bit and I averted my was beautifully written and gave me a bit of a cry...
Love ya...Susan xxx

Julie said...

Your grandmother's house sounds like it was an amazing place to visit and explore. Your writing is beautiful and has given me a sense of the richness of your grandmother and of your relationship with her x.


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