Grace Clark

School: Monifieth High School, Angus

My granny


My granny was the best granny. She had salt and pepper hair, cut in a sort of messy bob, and she had glasses just like me that hung on a chain round her neck. Before I was born, she had been a teacher, so she was forever correcting my grammar. Her pet hate was my use of the word like; she said I used it too often. She walked on two sticks that sounded pock, pock, pock every time they touched the ground, so you always knew when she was coming. I would look in the window as I arrived at her house and I would see her struggling to get up from her chair to envelop me in a big hug. This was really special because Granny didn’t really like to hug other people, but she would always hug me.

My mum said she spoiled me, and she was right, but Granny always remarked that it was the grandparent’s job to undo all the hard work the parents had done. She would buy me Lego Advent calendars and she bought me hot chocolate capsules so that I could have hot chocolate from her fancy coffee machine. My favourite thing was to come home to Granny’s after school, especially when I’d had a bad day, or the weather was miserable, and then we would sit and have an interesting chat about school or books - just little random conversations that start up which lead into different discussions, until you wonder how you got to what you were speaking about. She would let me watch hours of tv with bread and butter, a slice of cherry cake and hot chocolate – none of which my parents would allow at home! She just made so much of a difference; I always came out happier than when I went in. I think she spoiled me because I was her only grandchild and, obviously, because she loved me.

Granny could make anything grow, within reason. She really loved her plants especially her willow trees, snow drops and daffodils. In her old house down in Fife, she lived in the middle of nowhere and she had an enormous labyrinth of a garden, one that you could get lost in. A river ran right beside her house and there was a part with no fence where daffodils just cascaded like a waterfall. For years, I thought there was a broken statue right up at the back of the garden, and I remember making up stories of what it could be. I eventually learned it was a sundial when my dad showed me how it worked. She also had a big apple tree, its fingers gnarled and reaching for the sun. Sometimes it would produce lots of apples and me and dad would climb into its branches and pick off the fruit. We would camp under it too and make a fire on Granny’s compost heap to toast marshmallows over or even sometimes the apples themselves. Her garden was mostly natural but there were three sheds that were falling to pieces, an aged greenhouse that I wasn’t allowed to go into and a play swing for me. I would spend hours on that swing.

Of all her flowers, Granny loved snowdrops the most and she was quite sad when she discovered that she had none in her new garden when they moved. Granny and Grumpa had to move because Grumpa was poorly and Granny was his carer. However, when she fell ill, there was nobody nearby to look after them both so they had to move. They moved into our village, which made Granny feel uncertain because she hadn’t lived in a village or town for a very, very long time. Her garden was tiny, but she grew to love the big open skies that she could see from her kitchen window.

Granny’s house was filled with strange things and I wondered about them. I didn’t see anything like them in other people’s houses. They really could have come from anywhere in the world, as Granny used to travel quite a bit through her job as a teacher. She went to Sweden, Africa, Italy and more, so she had a lot of mementoes from these places. At Christmas she would get out the angel chimes and the straw decorations from Sweden, but the house was filled all year round with the memories of Africa. Granny went to Africa to train teachers and she met my Grumpa in Uganda. They had three dates and then they got married, starting a family in the Mountains of the Moon. They had to leave Uganda because a dictator came into power called Idi Amin and he forced lots of people out, including my grandparents.  But they brought Africa home with them. My favourite was the small African drums. When I was little, I would run to the window where they were kept and start beating a tune out with my fingers.

The African drums are in my home now because Granny died suddenly at the end of last year. I feel like there’s a big bundle of emotions, all different colours, that won’t come up from inside me and won’t go away. I’m not sure if I want them to go away because I might lose the part of Granny that is still inside me. I write because we both loved words, and I know she would be proud of me, and that’s a part of her that I will never lose.

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