Last week was very happy/sad and emotional for me but uplifting at the same time. The sorrow I felt at losing one of my grandmothers was also countered by the happiness I felt to have had the chance to know and spend so much time with my Nana, who was such an amazing person and who lived such an amazing and full life. However close or far away I lived she was always there in my life, and always had something funny to say or do that would make me laugh until I cried. She had so many stories and anecdotes from days gone by, and I hope to be able to live such a full life as she did.
The service itself was simple and beautiful and I felt honoured to read a piece I had written for her during the service. Here is the piece I read, in honour of my wonderful Nana.
For Nana, the one and only little old crock
I talk to my father every day. I don't know where he is exactly but I know that he's around somewhere, listening to me, gently guiding me in certain directions. He has watched me make mistakes, fall down, pick myself up and carry on. He's also watched me succeed and make the right decisions. It's been 23 years since he left us, but there isn't a day that goes by that I don't miss him. Now Nana has gone to join him, and to join all of her husbands and boyfriends and sisters and friends who left us before she did. Whatever you may believe in, you know she is already sitting on a little throne-type chair somewhere, directing everyone and making everyone roll over with laughter at one of her jokes.
I'll always remember the time when I was a little child and wanted to send Nana a letter (even though she lived just a few doors down the street in Manton). If I remember correctly the postman thought it was funny that I had addressed the envelope "Nana Nicholls", that being because he knew her real name was Brenda, because he knew she lived down the street or because he just thought the name "Nana" was funny I will never know. But it's always been Nana. It did become "little old crock" at some point too, although I don't know if Louise or I started that one. Louise of course being the middle crock and me being the young crock. Although I'm not THAT young anymore.
I'm lucky. We are ALL lucky. Nana lived until she was 92 and we were all lucky enough to be part of her life and spend as much time with her when she was alive as we could. She was born in 1920! Lived through WW2, through the post war, past several husbands and still remained herself: funny, stubborn and classy. I have never known anyone (apart from my sister that is) who would make such a fuss about making sure her outfits were always matching. Even when we finally got her to wear trousers, she would only wear the posher type (unlike me, her granddaughter, who tended to run around in ripped jeans and holey jumpers). Even the orthopaedic shoes she had to wear after her operations had to be of the prettier kind! Nana wouldn't leave the house unless she felt good about the way she looked, and she always used to tell me that she didn't want to end up in hospital wearing holey underwear! She wore heels until she really couldn't anymore, and even then she kept them, you know, just in case she would be able to wear them again!
Nana never gave up, until she just couldn't fight anymore. I spent literally every summer and more at Nana and Auntie Louise's until I moved to NYC. At 80 she was getting on the bus to Stamford and Oakham, doing some shopping and going to the library. She loved to be surrounded by the people she cared about, and she had a heart big enough to still care about the people who didn't act as if they cared anymore. There were times when I would turn my back and she would climb up on chairs to clean the tops of the kitchen cupboards, just because she couldn't sit still. There was another time that she didn't want someone to see she was at home, so we both hid behind the couch when this person knocked on the door and were giggling like children. I tell you, never a boring day when you were around my Nana.
I’m sad because I know I will never see her again. I’m sad because I know I will never talk to her again. I’m sad because I will never be able to laugh at how she would take her hearing aid out when she didn’t want to listen to people talk anymore, and how, with her hearing aid, she would still have selective hearing. I’m sad because I will never see her beautiful little old lady face again, and I’m sad because I’ll never see that amazing person who was behind that little old lady face again. But I know that she wouldn’t want me to be sad. She wouldn’t want anyone to be sad. We should celebrate her life by remembering all of the wonderful times we had with her, by laughing out loud at inappropriate jokes and by remembering how fabulous Brenda May Ellis/Hughes/Nicholls/Beeby etc was. I know where I get my mischievous side from and I hope, just like Nana, that I never lose it.
Always tell those you love how much you love them, and always live your life in a way that you will never regret you didn’t do something because you were too scared to. And last of all, because all of you here today loved my Nana in some way or another, I love you too.
(To finish off, a phrase that she would say to me every so often when we watched Eastenders together):
"Oh yeah… You know the woman who played Pat in Eastenders? She’s a lesbian you know!"