My Great Grandmother is a woman who has seen it all; the passing of war time and peace time, the loss of life taken unexpectedly and the joy of new life, all while observing the changing of the seasons from glorious summer through red and orange fall to the freezing of the water and the falling of the snow flakes, for the past 100 years.
My Great Grandmother has the spirit of a true Midlands working girl; the sharp tongue that you never want to get on the wrong side of and the quick wit that has quietened the brashest of men. Age has diminished her in stature but not in voice and even at the age of 100 her big personality still sparkles through the tiny little body that once stood so tall. Her body might be lessening but her mind still stays fiery and defies the onslaught of time as it takes her friends, one by one.
Born in 1913, she has survived two World Wars, one as a baby and the second as she watched her husband go off to fight, unsure on his return. We have her ration books; a solid artefact from a period of austerity where everything was a luxury thanks to enemy ships preventing deliveries. Eggs, butter, bacon and fruit were rationed, and for years they lived in fear of bombings or news that loved ones had died.
My Great Grandmother has seen joy and heartache and everything in between in her century of life. Her youngest son was killed in a car accident on his 21st birthday, and her daughter taken by cancer just a few years ago. She has risen through like a phoenix, dedicating herself to helping others and supporting the church that she loves so much.
My Great Grandmother is as old fashioned as they come; a woman who believes that men are more important than women and the church is the pillar of the home. Every week she would make fantastic cakes for bake sales to improve the lives of the community, and yet she never used scales. She could shake a bag of flower and judge the size of an egg in her hand, and they never went wrong. She used to feed us Sunday dinners and we would all look on in jealously as my Dad got double the roast potatoes of the rest of us, while we filled up on broccoli. As a child this seemed like a major injustice. Time has taken the ability to look after people from her, but she hasn’t lost the spirit that made this possible; the ability to love and not need love in return, and to offer kindness to anyone who needs it.
My Great Grandmother died this week, just shy of her 101st birthday. She will forever be an inspiration to her family and a memory as full of life as she was.