Wednesday, July 30, 2014
There were lots of tourists at the Botanics yesterday and I was intrigued to see that this new feature appeared to be attracting far more attention than any of the rare plants or even the beautiful herbaceous border, which my ghost plans to haunt (benignly) when I'm deceased. It's a wildflower - not really meadow, just a very large, oval flowerbed. Earlier in the summer, there were more poppies - it's been created to mark the centenary of the start of World War 1 - but now it's mainly blue cornflowers and what I think might be corn marigolds and chamomile. It's very pretty, anyway and was much-photographed by many visitors.
I've been typing out my aunt's memories, as dictated to me on our recent Norfolk holiday, and it's been making me think about my grandmother, whom I never really knew. I knew my other grandmother well but as I've previously mentioned, this one left Edinburgh, with my aunt, in 1955 (I think) when I was five. They lived in Cheltenham and then Cambridge and we saw them only every few years. I asked my aunt what Granny was interested in and she didn't know. Just her family, she thought.
Which seems most unlikely to me, but clearly my aunt hadn't ever really thought about it and neither had I up till that point. I looked at the family tree that my father spent his retirement compiling, and noticed that Granny's mother had died when Granny was 18. There had been 11 children in the family, though 2 had died in infancy. Another died in 1915, presumably in the war (and I'd never even heard of him). Granny was the third youngest, so things must have been hard when her mother died.
She and my grandfather were married for 10 years before they had children and then they had three within five years (which is odd) so that they were quite old parents - 35 and 45. My father, their eldest child, was in the army for 6 years during the war, which must - now I come to think of it - have been terrible for her. My grandfather died in 1950. And then in the early 1950s, one of her daughters suddenly married someone she hardly knew and went off to be a missionary doctor in Pakistan - home only every 5 years - and the other decided to go down south. So Granny had the choice of living alone near her son and two grandchildren (my brother and me - our house was too small to have her living with us and I don't think my parents would have wanted this anyway) but being parted from her other (unmarried) daughter, or going down south with this daughter. She chose the latter but very soon developed dementia, in her early 70s.
And really it's taken me 64 years to think what it all must have been like for her. Fairly traumatic from time to time, I suppose. Poor Granny.