Memories Quietly Acknowledged.

By Alison November 11, 2005 4 Comments 3 Min Read


I couldn’t sleep last night. Half past one in the morning found me sitting in a chamomile salt bath (lots of coarse sea salt +10 drops chamomile oil + 5 drops lavender), drinking tea and wishing the night away. I felt twitchy. Nervous. Do you ever get that? A sudden drowning sense of nervousness for no apparent reason. Is it called loneliness? That peculiar "I am the only person in the world" feeling, you occasionally get, even when you are surrounded by love?

I rubbed lavender balm into my temples, then wandered back into the bedroom (Mark, bless him, could sleep through a marching band in the middle of the night.) and lay down and stared at the ceiling. While I was pregnant we had the ceiling and the walls of this room skimmed and painted in House White from Farrow and Ball, a thick creamy white with the consistency of icing sugar. Having the ceiling painted in the same colour was a decision I made in all the rooms upstairs and it really does make a huge difference to the sense of calm in the bedrooms. My bedside light is lacy and it throws beautifuly frilly shadows onto the smooth ceiling above my bed, and last night it felt to me like lying underwater.

I miss my Nana. Grandparents are a blessing I don’t think we really appreciate until we are older. Yesterday she would have been eighty one, but she died when I was eighteen and everyday I miss the possibility of her. The answers to all the questions I never thought to ask when I was growing up. She was little, my Nana. Really little. Diminutive and unreal. Don’t ask me what I mean by that, I only know that she wasn’t who I thought she was. And that is, I suppose the magic of Nana’s- they bless us by being only who we as children need them to be.

To me she was all Hollywood Glamour and 1950’s snakeskin platform shoes. Because that is who she wanted to be. And as a child I believed in her dreams as much as she did. I still do.

Does it matter that her life was hard? That her Mothering was dubious because of it? Not to me it doesn’t. As I grow older I learn the truth about who she was, but that truth doesn’t wrap itself around my childhood memories. To me she will always be the little lady who rushed Helen and I into church, half an hour late, every Sunday for as long as I can remember. The Nana we watched "The Major and the Minor" with, and the girl evacuated to Colwyn Bay…

I miss her. I miss who she was and who she could have been if life hadn’t got so mundanely, miserably in the way. I don’t think of her all the time. Not anymore.

But last night as I lay in my powder puff bedroom, watching the shadows dancing on the ceiling, I remembered her. The smell of her. Her square fingernails. The day I blow dryed her thinning black hair not long before she died…

It is enough you know. These quiet acknowledgments of somebody gone. Perhaps that sudden overwhelming sense of what I called loneliness, isn’t that at all, but the calling of  memories, quitely asking to be remembered…


  1. ms*robyn says:

    I miss my Nan dreadfully too.
    hugs to you, Alison. though we aren't the same age, we are similar in personality, me thinks xox

  2. Savannah says:

    Well, said, Sweetie. I have been constantly thinking of my grandmother since the moment I was born!!! She left this earth November 17, 1985!!! Can it be I have still remained breathing for 20 years without her? I loved the things you said and have printed it out for my mother and for a couple of other great grandmothers I know. I'll read it aloud tonight to my own with a candle resting on her kitchen table (legs still painted pink by her) which graces my bedroom window. Was she vintage clever or what?

  3. Savannah says:

    Also, Alison, if that is a picture of your Nana, you look a lot like her!

  4. Helen May says:

    I miss her too. And the older I get, strangely, the more I miss her.
    She'd be proud of you, babe.

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