Last week I heard via email, that my wonderful Gran passed away 1/10/2011, at San Sereno Frail Care Facility, in South Africa.
My Gran, Joyce McIntosh, wife, daughter, mother, aunt, but to me, Gran was always Gran. I remember growing up how exciting it was to spend a night at Granny's. She had a small stretcher that we would put up in her room. Gran would tell me stories about when she was a little girl. I had two favorite stories that I would ask her to repeat over and over again.
The one story I absolutely loved went something like this:
To go to school my gran and her sister, Phyllis and brother, Roy were taken to school in a horse and little cart. One morning they were being taken to school when the horse stopped in the middle of the road and refused to budge. No matter how many times the horse was pushed, and coaxed the horse would not go any further. As children they were all thrilled when the horse and cart was turned around. No school for that day! That night an enormous sinkhole opened up in the middle of the road. The horse must have felt it, and saved their lives.
Of course, Gran was much much better at telling this story. She described the horse and cart, and the joy they all felt about missing school.
The other story was even more exciting.It went something like this:
One night my gran was woken up by her mother. They were told to be very quiet, and not to make any noise. They put on their coats and had to quietly go out the back way. There was a mielie (corn) field behind their house, and they had to get down on their hands and knees and creep along in amongst the mielies (corn). It was pitch pitch dark. Suddenly they heard a man cry out, "Master, Master, don't shoot master!"
Eventually they made their way to the mine manager's house. All the time they had to keep their heads down, and be very, very quiet. They kept hearing "ping, ping" as shots were fired overhead. All the wives and children were kept in the mine manager's house, and men with guns guarded them. They all had to sleep under the billiard table in the billiard room. All the children (my gran included) thought that this was a wonderful adventure. Oddly enough, my gran did not report that they felt scared at all.
But most of the time, I loved staying over at Gran's, because we would have wonderful food - food that I would eat (for most of my childhood I had a power struggle going on with my poor mom - I refusted to eat!) And I did not have my pesky older brothers teasing me, or taking attention away from me.
Gran had a wonderful sense of humor, and great sense of the ridiculous. We could tease her, and she would laugh and laugh. I never ever heard her speaking ill of anyone. I wish I could be more like her.
Gran used to drive an ancient old blue mercedes which she called "Henrietta". She even had a special song she would sing when we would drive around in her. I think that the fact that Gran named her cars is something that I still do today. (We currently have a Lizzie, Arnie and a Crystal = all cars.)
I remember a wonderful trip down to Scottburgh that Mom, Gran and I went on. We went to stay at my Aunt Bess's cottage down in Scottburgh. It was close to the beach. I can't remember whether my brothers came with us, but we had such a wonderful time.
As I grew up, we continued to remain close. I would arrange lunch dates with Gran. And when it got too much for her to drive, I would fetch her and take her on outings. Gran loved her bowls, and her tennis. And of course she played bridge with her bridge ladies for money. (Only pennies, but I loved to tease Gran about her winnings.)
Gran also had an aviary in her back yard that she filled with canaries. When we sat in the garden having tea and chatting, the canaries would sing and sing and sing. To this day, when I see a canary, or hear a canary's song, I always think of my gran.
It broke my heart when I left South Africa in March 2001, and said good bye to her. Gran wrote me a note, telling me that she loved me, and that she understood that I had to make my own way. I still feel as if I had abandoned her.
In 2009 Kevin met her for the first time. I am glad that they had the chance to meet. If I had not left SA when I did, with the love and support of Gran, I would never have met Kevin. It is funny how things work out.
I wish for many things. But mostly, I wish that I could have been with her when she passed away.
So this is my monument (electronic in true 21st century fashion) to the passing of a wonderful woman. A woman who taught me about kindness, grace, and class. Who showed me that our actions speak to who we really are. A woman who taught me how precious laughter is, and who finally taught me to enjoy who I really am.
Be in peace.