A few weeks ago I dedicated a blog to my paternal grandfather. Sadly, just two weeks short of his 104th birthday, he had decided it was time to leave us and join my grandmother who had been waiting very patiently for over 30 years!
The wonderful response I received from readers was so heart warming that I feel that I simply must say thank you. Your words of comfort, your tweets, your messages of support – they made a real difference.
Now I need your help again!
Through Lion Hearts, Maree and I recently became involved with the Healthy Living Club – a Lambeth (London) based charity that works with those suffering dementia. Over the weeks that have followed I have been reminded of my brush with this condition and the impact it has on so many lives.
Last year I lost my maternal grandmother to Alzheimer’s and I would like now to dedicate this blog to her. To do this I am taking a chapter from my book, Me, My world and I, the lines of which were written for her.
Groups like the Healthy Living Club do so very much to help improve the quality of life for those who have dementia as well offer relief and hope to their loved ones. If you live in or around London, please, please, please come along to the concert – it’s important and your support would mean so very much! (Details at the bottom of the blog)!
In Grandmother’s Arms
Cry not for me,
For I have lived.
And with age came wisdom,
And this wisdom a gift.
A life well-acted,
Is not without sorrow.
But reach out beyond,
And seek joy to borrow.
For now is certain,
Tomorrow, less so.
Give all to the moment,
And let the rest go.
Fear not to dream,
And follow your heart.
Live life to the full,
And from love never part.
Give with sincerity,
And know what is true.
Be good to others,
And they will love you.
Work hard for a living,
To avoid a hard life.
For life without money,
Has plenty of strife.
I am here,
And always will be.
Just close your eyes,
And there you will see.
Cry not for me,
Don’t shed a tear,
These words now spoken,
You had to hear.
I recall my parents telling me that the days of my youth would be the best of my life.
Of course, at the time, I thought that I knew better. I strongly disliked school, and I dreamed of the supposed freedom that age would bring. What I didn’t realise was that I actually knew nothing, and pride always comes before a fall.
This is all very cliché, but with time, I have come to realise that foolish thoughts are often the result of ignorance. With experience grows wisdom, and the wise always listen.
With that in mind, I expect that this poem will be totally ignored by most youth as they venture forth, guns blazing and ready to make their fortune. But the poem is not meant as a self-righteous lecture to be forced upon a young and mostly unreceptive audience. Most of the lines reflect advice I myself so readily ignored, so I have no expectations that the young will receive it well.
I have, with time, found these words to be wise. They are a tribute to the experiences of those who spoke them. And now I, in turn, pass them on to the next generation.
One of those wise enough to see that I knew less than I understood (and bear in mind that I actually understood very little) was my maternal grandmother.
Sadly, she now suffers from Alzheimer’s, a disease that has robbed us of the benefits of her wisdom. For this reason, it seems only fitting that her words are now immortalised here.
I am very fortunate to have grown up knowing both my mother’s and father’s parents. And at the age of forty-two, I still have two surviving grandparents.
My grandmother was both strong and outgoing, and she was an uncompromising business woman who helped make a success of the family’s market gardening business. She wasn’t afraid of hard work, but she loved to travel, dance, and have fun.
I have many fond memories of spending time with my grandparents on their farm and helping out with their market stalls in King’s Lynn, Long Sutton, and Peterborough. I would sell flowers to their older patrons who seemed to find me quite adorable. Of course, I was very young, but I took it all in and loved every moment.
When I wasn’t accidentally helping the pigs escape or pilfering oranges from the store sheds, I would accompany my grandparents to the local auctions or assist in loading the lorries for market. I was just a child, and it was a truly marvellous experience – one I would not swap for anything.
As I have now reached my forties, I have started to see those heady days of carefree childish abandon as something akin to a lost treasure. Until now, I guess I saw myself as somewhat immortal: life goes on and you tread its path exploring whatever it brings your way. Then odd aches and pains start to appear, you find yourself out of breath walking up the stairs, and the family around you (people you also viewed as immortal) suddenly appear to have aged.
Seeing my grandmother again after being away a few months was a real wake-up call. She is a sad shadow of the woman I once knew, crippled by a disease that is surely straight from hell. She is still my grandmother – and I still love her – but in some ways, it’s almost as if she’s already gone.
I have to confess that, when reading this poem through for the first time, it provoked a genuine emotional reaction. I have never been particularly moved by anything I have written in the past. Consequently, I found myself feeling a little surprised. I am glad, though, because (to me) the poem catches the essence of exactly what I wanted to portray.
Even though the poem is dedicated to my grandmother, I feel sure that many who read it will find familiarity in the sentiments being portrayed.
I believe that, even after my grandmother has gone, in many ways her presence will remain. As long as a single heart beats that has been touched by the memory of another, that memory will live on.
The Lambeth Concert in aid of those with Dementia
October 31st – Adults £5.00 Concession £2.00 Tickets here: http://www.lionhearts-tour.com/?page_id=14 or DM me on Twitter please
Concert Venue: Cressingham Gdns, Rotunda Hall, Tulse Hill, SW2 2QN
Flamenco from a top dancer, a wonderful singer, poetry, literature and fun!
Details: http://www.lionhearts-tour.com Video Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4aHZp0SOQNI&feature=youtu.be
The Charity: http://healthylivingclub.org.uk/
Please come along, you really will make a difference!