I recently visited Grandma. After a long and arduous life she is currently resting in an overgrown corner of a cemetery on the outskirts of Coventry. In life she was small and frail, looking as though a puff of wind would blow her over; yet she could silence her giant of a husband with just a look from those pale blue eyes. Always hidden away in an oversized pinafore, she smelled of fresh bread and was constantly wiping down surfaces with a damp cloth.
Conversations with Grandma involved following her around the kitchen and garden as she was always on the move. In addition to the needs of a large extended family, she washed and ironed for housebound neighbours: 'those poor dears'. She was more elderly than they were.
A favourite tale was how her grandparents moved from Cropredy to Coventry, pushing all belongings before them on a dog cart. Along the road they met and travelled most of the way with a family who later proved to be the grandparents of Grandpa; they were also moving to Coventry but from Lower Boddington. A surprising coincidence; discovered during those awkward family introductions when Grandpa 'stated his intentions'.
With a far-away look in her eye she described those formal meetings in a Coventry park on Sunday afternoons, when grandpa in his regimental uniform and pillbox cap would escort her three times around the boating pool. Surrounded by many other couples engaged in the same activity.
This is a sepia photograph taken early last century. She stands before a painted garden scene, and is dressed in a full length dress covered with a pure white smock, and wears laced boots. She is holding a small white veil across her hair in which are small flowers. The photograph has been extensively repaired with computer software to remove the ravages of having been carried throughout the horrors of Mons and Ypres.
I like to look into her eyes and wonder what she now thinks of us all, and of the world that she left behind.