So, here’s a thing; the dedication to my very own Nana at the beginning of Meet Me at Number Five:
Regulars to my blog will know I have spoken about Win before. She truly was an inspiration to me. To a young, impressionable granddaughter she was so glamorous. She always wore high heels, was never seen without make-up and, perhaps most importantly, always let me do what I wanted. Not in a brattish way. But if I wanted to do baking, that was fine; I knew where the kitchen was, just get on with it. She allowed my creativity to flow. I can see myself now, probably no more than 8, reading form her Dairy Diary recipe book, turning on the cooker and finding a stool so I could reach up for the flour in the cupboard. There were no boundaries like my parents put upon me. I was allowed to go on my own with my cousins to the park, given fifty pence and told to trot off around to the village shop for sweets on my own. She gave me the independence that, as a protected only child, I craved and I loved her for it. In hindsight I think it’s fair to say her way of grandparenting was possibly slightly liberal but it was character building and has stayed with me until this day. I see my own mother with my children now and watch the different relationship she has with them. Once the stern and shouty, authoritative mother has become the laidback, relaxed, laughing Nanny who my boys love so much and it is I who is left to be the busy, remonstrative dragon. At least I know that (hopefully) my time will come 🙂
Sadly, my nana was taken from us too soon. On 8th February 1995 she was hospitalised after two weeks of being bed ridden. I asked to see her that evening but she was having a blood transfusion and we were asked to go the next evening instead. The following morning a doctor needed to retrieve a bone marrow sample. She was in too much pain to be moved onto her side and have it taken from her hip so the doctor chose to take it from her breast bone instead. She went into cardiac arrest and another consultant chose to carry out acupuncture on her heart to try and revive her. At the inquest into her death – six months later on my 16th birthday – the judge delivered an open verdict. There were three holes in her heart, one from where the doctor tried to take bone marrow from her sternum and two from acupuncture needles, but it was indeterminable which hole had made her bleed to death. It was a lot to come to terms with. I was angry with my Grandad at the time for not fighting for justice but as I’ve grown older I’ve come to see his logic; unbeknownst to us, Win had multiple myeloma, bone cancer. She wouldn’t have lived more than six months and of those she would have been in great pain. In some perverse way that consultant did her a massive favour. He released her from her pain. Jim, my Grandad, died 15 months later of stomach cancer, although I rather suspect brought about by a broken heart. My biggest regret is never getting to say goodbye. Sometimes I search my brain, my memories but I cannot remember the last time I saw Win or said goodbye to her. Which was really where the inspiration for Meet Me at Number Five came from. I don’t want to spoil the plot for you but I can tell you I wanted to immortalise dear Winifred. She had a feistiness and vivacity that very few people I know can embody. Perhaps because I was young I look back with rose tinted glasses but either way, I hope you will enjoy reading Clara’s story.
Clara was in fact my Great-Grandmother’s (Win’s mum) name who died the same year I was born. I love the name and it was high on my list of baby names but, alas, I never produced a girl. Clara loves horse racing. She also loves fine dining, champagne drinking, smoking and socialising. She is most definitely the matriarch of the Cavendish family. She’s been widowed twice and divorced once and feels the poor job she did of bringing up her sons can be rectified in taking care of her granddaughters. She also loves interfering and hates it when there’s a problem that can’t be resolved and it’s this trait which is going to leave her with a major challenge…
What about you? Did or do you have a Nana? Why not leave me a comment and tell me all about her below? And tomorrow I’ll be back to discuss infertility so Meet Me same time, same place then!