Pennies for the ferrymen

Yesterday we lost one of the greatest people in my life, my grandmother Liz-Anne Bawden. She was so strong and loving and wise, words can’t express the feeling of complete loss and desolation that losing her has brought on for me.

She played such a huge part in both my own and my sister’s upbringings and it’s awful to think I won’t hear her voice again. Not only was she a huge part in our family she was a well respected member of our community in Lyme Regis and she was so involved in so many projects that have shaped Lyme to be the way it is today. I could list them, but most of them happened before I was born and I don’t want to make any mistakes or underplay her achievements.

I’m  glad that she passed away peacefully and with dignity surrounded by her favourite members of the care home staff it just upsets me and I feel so guilty that I hadn’t been to visit her for a while before she left us, if I could go back I would go and do one last crossword with her.I think she wanted to go with a minimum of fuss, comfortably and in a dignified manner. She had all those things and I look forward to joining her somewhere better one day.

I had a secret desire to produce a baby before she left so that she could meet her first great-grandchild (I also wanted to be the first to have one of her great-grandchildren, I don’t want Tess to get there first), but I knew it wasn’t to be! I’m sure, although she would have been glad to meet her great-grandson or daughter, she might not have thought too much of my choice of life path. She always said “If you don’t go to Oxford University, I shall turn in my grave!” and I always intended to go exactly there. I hope she was and will be proud of me, she always made me feel like such a star and she supported me with school work as much as she could, especially when I was younger, and I don’t think I let her know how much I appreciated this.

If you find yourself reading this Granny, when I was little I asked what happens when people die. You told me that you go somewhere else, and I asked you to send me a letter when you got there (although I always thought you were pretty much invincible and that there wouldn’t be anything that could best you anyway). Don’t worry too much about it, I’m sure that you’re happy where you are and that’s enough for me. I’ll miss you, say hello to everyone for me and I’ll see you all again one day. You could not have been a more perfect Grandmother, teacher or friend to me or Tessa. I love you so much, and thank you for everything.

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3 comments

  1. Ceci – this is so beautiful, thank you so much. I love you very much and am hugely proud of you and so was granny. You were her rock in the past few months and I know she has gone content in the knowledge that she has supported, guided, influenced and loved two remarkable young women who will prove to be as intelligent, determined, funny and, I hope, as caring as she was. You’re such a star, Ceci, I will never forget how brilliant you have been since mum had a stroke last November, not only with her but with Astro, Tessa and me. We are all going to miss her but we will all still feel her guiding strength, her fierce intellect and her enduring commitment to convince people to be the best that they can be, for the rest of our lives. I am so proud that her spirit shines so brightly in you!

  2. Dearest Mimi, Ceci and Tess, what beautiful words about Lizanne – she was a very important part of my childhood too – perhaps coming from a single parent family, my mum’s closest friends were in many ways like second parents to me and I very much felt this way about her, she was so wise and her incredible laser-like intelligence was awe inspiring to me as I grew up. I remember that on the sunny August day in 1995 when I picked up my GCSE results in Dulwich, mum and I got straight on the train to head to Lyme to stay with Liz-anne for a few days holiday. She was thrilled I had done well, in spite of having been poorly with M.E during that period, and was brimming with excitement when she met us from the station; she took me straight off to have cake and meet John Fowles, which she felt was a fitting reward for having done so well in my English exams! I’ll remember that very happy afternoon and how proud she made me feel that day, always.
    Other memories that have come to me as I sit and think of her tonight…her snoopy holding a french baguette bag that she had for years and years…doing the crosswords together with my mum exclaiming every few minutes that it was totally pointless Liz-anne reading the clues out to us as we weren’t ever going to be able to get one if it had foxed her, her getting cross with me that I had pulled grapes straight from the bunch and eaten them rather than snipped a frond off with scissors, her asking me, with absolute faith that I would have an opinion, even as an 11 year old, about what I thought of important authors and artists’s work, Truffle and his bad tempers, Astro and his chirpiness, her inadvertently wearing achingly trendy New Balance trainers because they weren’t heavily branded, and my disbelief that even she had cooler trainers than I did because mum would only buy me supermarket ones, being taught how to whittle in the garden on one visit, the navy fisherman’s jumper she wore all the time in the 80s, how she made me try a swordfish steak once as a child when I was being wimpy and refusing, mum becoming helpless and weak with mirth even years later when remembering how Liz-anne pitched forward violently shrieking ‘JEEEEEESUS’ as she flew horizontally threw the air like a javelin in a prissily twee antiques shop that she and Mum went in when on holiday together once, us all eating watermelon in a heatwave on a glorious walk along the coast when I was 11 or 12.
    We will miss her very much, she was a wonderful wonderful person who we love
    Gracie
    xxxx

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