My earliest experience with writing was writing letters back and forth to my Great Grandmother - Doris Morris. I know that if she were alive to read my blog, she would not be too happy about me sharing her name - she had a marmite relationship with the rhythmic hilarity of its structure. Personally, it's a name that I think suited her - it brought a smile to your face, just like she did every time you spent time with her. Granny was one of the bestest friends I will ever have in my life. No one will fill her space. We laughed so hard that I cried with joy while curled up with stomach cramps due to vivacious laughter. Meanwhile, Granny would fill the air with her contagious, roaring laughter and throw her head back as she 'roared'. We were very close despite the enormous age difference. Like any friends, Granny and I liked to stay in touch. Back then, neither Granny or I had a mobile phone (thank goodness for that). We communicated via letters in the post - both equipped with sets of stationary - paper, envelopes and stamps at the ready. This was when I first began writing for a personal purpose and in a way, I haven't stopped since. Granny's words still resonate with me today, 'Never stop writing'. I promised I wouldn't and it's the most important promise I have ever made.
I still treasure some of Granny's letters, but I wasn't wise enough to keep them all at such a young age. I wish I had more of the letters to read and re-read - she wrote like she spoke and her writing was loud and colourful - just like her personality. In the picture above is one of the letters Granny sent me, (Charlie was my chocolate labrador dog - just in case you were snooping at the picture up close). Our letters included poems, snippets of what we did in our day and what we would talk about when we saw each other next. We wrote regularly, until Granny's health deteriorated and her sight meant that she found it tricky to both read and write - our letters suffered until they came to a final halt. I still visited Granny though, so although our communication wasn't on paper any longer, I still had my friend to talk and laugh with (for a few years more anyway).
What happens next is sad and tormenting to even recollect. Granny started to suffer from dementia and slowly but surely, my friend slipped away and so did many of her memories - including me. As far as Granny was aware, I was just a nice, unnamed visitor. I remember crying on my bedroom floor countless times after visits; I mourned her while she was still alive in body but not in spirit. Dementia really is a truly devastating disease. The person you love is still there to take photographs with, to hug and kiss but they are not the same. The most difficult part of this period of time was accepting the situation. I got angry with myself for not being able to be happy when I saw Granny anymore. I was angry that I was being selfish - all I wanted was for her to remember me. I'm sure that all Granny wanted to do was to remember me too. I don't want to focus this blog post on the final moments of Granny's existence. It's heartbreaking for me to remember her like that and I try desperately to focus on the important times that we had together. Dementia stole Granny and robbed her of her memories but it can't steal my memories that we had together.
Granny taught me a lot of lessons. Living past one hundred years of age, she taught me to enjoy every second of life and exactly how to do it - laughing. I also think my 'direct' and 'honest' tongue is inspired by her. However, my tongue isn't as free spirited as hers was as she sometimes got in trouble for speaking what was on her mind. Granny taught me the importance of enjoying food, filling my childhood with delicious homemade welsh cakes, pancakes and chips. I'm not sure how she'd take the news of my discovered intolerances years later! Most importantly, Granny began my love of writing. I fell in love with the process of documenting my day to her in our letters. I got excited at the prospect of each new letter arriving through the letterbox addressed to me. Our letters were special and we both treasured them dearly. Although I may have lost Granny as time stole her away a few years ago - her lessons, her words of wisdom and her laughter will always stay with me. I know that Granny would be proud of my blog and the fact that 'I never stopped writing' - just like she asked. As I continue writing on this blog, I will always subconsciously be writing in loving memory of my very special, Granny.