I had to smile just now as I read Bad Christian Dave Tomlinson's memories of his mum. Especially when he mentioned the sweeties hidden away in her room. I bet it wasn't just the children who were the lucky recipients of those dairy milks and rollos; judging by my own experience, where Mums and Grandmums are concerned, their 'children' are never too old to be slipped an illicit treat. Even when her Great Grandchildren were around, my Granny loved to pass me over a little 'something,' usually a Creme Egg or some Rollos, a pretty card, often a little notebook, frequently parcelled up in either a plastic bag or some material, held together by a huge elastic band, homemade out of an old pair of rubber gloves. (Don't ask! My family were into recycling long before it became fashionable).
She extended this to Mr GP, too, albeit in the form of a glass of sherry. Or A Nice Cup of Tea, preferably served with a huge pile of marmite and cucumber sandwiches and slices of homemade cake before the older members of the family got down to the serious business of doing the newspaper crossword . Not marmite and cucumber, you understand; even Granny's attempts at haute cuisine weren't that exotic, though her home made soups were legendary, and nobody ever debunked the family legend that she'd been known to add marmalade to the mix!
Add to this a love of music, reading, gardening and just the beauty of the everyday, the ability to see the best in everyone and a kindliness that extended beyond immediate family and you can see why this remarkable lady was so well loved. Active until well into her seventies, we used to love to go and stay with her; for a good few years various of us grandchildren used to live there for quite long periods in turn. She wasn't perfect by any means, but who amongst us is! In a family which could be volatile, to put it mildly, she provided a stability and a steadiness that we badly needed. Neighbours, too would visit for her weekly musical afternoons, not forgetting that cup of tea! And although inevitably numbers and the musical element dropped as the years went by, I can remember the visits continuing until just a few days before Granny's death, at the grand old age of 102.
After visiting my aunt over Christmas (and yes, tea and cakes continue), I discovered she'd slipped a folder in amongst the presents - stuffed with letters from myself and drawings, cards and notes from my children to 'Big Granny,' mostly written when we were living overseas. A wealth of memorabilia. Not quite the same as a creme egg, but now that I'm the proud possessor of three dental crowns and a post menopausal spare tyre, far better for me. What a wonderful gift.