February 1st, 2006 at 10:15 pm by james

It was the Christmas that Peter got a set of rubber molds for making animals out of plaster of paris. We were in house number five and I remember mixing plaster with him at the shed halfway down the garden and lining up molds to dry in the hot Christmas sun; I remember pots of yellow and green and black paint and it being very difficult to make a plaster cast look at all lifelike; I remember Grandpa sitting on the veranda near the stag’s horn cracking wallnuts with his bare hands; I remember being instructed, shortly before Christmas, that Joy & Ted were henceforth and without exception to be known as Grandma & Grandpa. I remember asking why. I don’t remember what I got for Christmas.

That is, of course, the earliest memory I have of Grandma & Grandpa. I don’t think I have any of Joy & Ted. I certainly remember driving in convoy behind the machine gunner in our Volkswagen to visit them in Bulawayo; I remember the stacks of Coke bottles in crates in preparation for Barbi’s wedding and I remember finding bullfrogs in and around the pool (and dropping my new cowboy hat into the water) at the school where Grandpa taught; I remember them being around but can’t picture them before that Christmas.

I remember Grandma telling me stories about the War and the WAAF; I remember her love of occasion, especially New Year, and that she never once in thirty-four years missed a birthday of mine, always showing stubborn generosity that refused to be limited by her means; I remember her implicit insistence on proper etiquette – I remember feeling compelled to say, “Pardon me” when a girlfriend (who shall remain nameless) belched loudly near enough for her to hear; I remember taking a call from her in the gardens of Hatfield House for an animated chat while she was visiting her sister in Newcastle; I remember her pride in the accomplishments of her children and grandchildren and I remember her eyes lighting up talking about her husband and what a wonderful man he was … I’ve wondered what it must be like to have nobody you care about call you by your right name for such a very long time.

Grandma passed away peacefully this evening in Cape Town. She’ll always be Grandma to me, but I hope this evening that someone she loves is calling her by name.


4 Responses to “Joy”

  1. gerry adlard Says:

    You are a darling, James! Love Dad

  2. Ben Says:

    What a wonderful memoriam. Thanks for writing that James. I just found out, thanks to the blog, as apparently I am the worlds worst message checker (long story) 🙁

  3. james Says:

    Sorry Ben – didn’t mean for you to find out that way!
    I’ll skype later and get the long story 🙂

  4. Ben Says:

    Oh no problem – worked out fine.

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