You put up a pretty good fight. You fought till the end, proving that if dementia hadn’t got you you could quite possibly be still fit and healthy.
I’m glad I came to say goodbye. I was adamant I wasn’t.
Dementia took my Nan away from me a few years ago. That’s what’s kept me going, I’ve asked about you but couldn’t really master the courage to come see you waste away in a home.
Hospital is different that’s where people die and I think that’s what made me come,
not sure what changed my mind but something did and that’s when there was no turning back I knew that then was going to be the last time. I wouldn’t come back again, you weren’t my Nan laying there either. Maybe if I was a braver person and come to see you all the time it would have been different.
All those memories came flooding back. Ok, you didn’t look like my Nan but laying there you was still my Nan.
The memories of going walking on a Saturday, you’d take us miles all with a handful of mints in your pocket, and start our journey on a bar of chocolate! Never a drink in sight!
Down the Taff Trail, some days as far as Aberfan, now that’s a fair trek! Remember running down the path past the farmhouse and down to the rubble of the old Rhyd Y Car cottages.
Some days we’d take our bikes or go on skates.
We’d go over to the ‘bumpy’ hill with my little red bmx bike. Feed the horses on the left on the way.
Some days we’d walk up to cyfarthyr park, that always felt longer than walking to Aberfan.
We’d go shopping on a Saturday afternoon that’s how I started collecting trolls, you asked as what we wanted and I wanted that troll with the red hair!
Remember when the market opened and we’d buy sherbet, you hated it, you told us it brought the ants to your kitchen. You made us put it on a plate!
We’d play you up, yes we were naughty and you’d never tell our parents.
You were visiting your friend the one day, well most probably going to give her her diner, you looked after all the old people I bet they weren’t actually that much older than you were they?! Anyways, July, you came back to Christmas music and your decorations up, told us take them down and if we didn’t you would chuck them all in the fire. We all loved that coal fire, ‘Nan, this is rubbish can we burn it?’, how often did we say that !
Remember when H swang those potatoes all the way up the tip, you told her all the way stop swinging them, when we hit the top the bag broke and were chasing potatoes down the hill laughing. You weren’t impressed told us we couldn’t have as many chips for tea! Or when G wouldn’t listen as he ran across the pitch, you shouted no there’s a puddle and next thing he’s up to his waist in mud. Or when K was walking the dog the day before she was to be bridesmaid and she fell and cut all her lip. You were terrified of telling my Mam and your soon to be daughter in law!
We’d walked miles, we were always out walking, you fell a few times and we laughed. When you were taking to some guy and his dog knocked you over I couldn’t help you up as I was laughing so much! The guy was mortified but in all fairness you took it well and laughed!
The night we were all going to sleep I the garden, you said no but we did you told us you were locking the back door, you didn’t! You woke up to all four of us on the living room floor! You knew we wouldn’t stay there and I’m guessing you didn’t actually go to sleep until we were all in.
One of my last clear memories of just you and I was walking down the road the day or two before the cars were allowed on it. Just you and I we didn’t see anyone all the way, we didn’t half think we were the kiddies, walking on a freshly tar marked road, again with just a handful of mints out of your cardigan pockets. That Friday evening walk, before home for toast and brookside!
You’d chase us with your wooden spoon when we misbehaved, we knew you wouldn’t chase us that far up the street, so we’d leg it out the front door laughing.
We’d ask to help polish all your brass. I’m sure you went back over it after we had gone! We used to play sword fighting with your rhubarb you’d tell us off! We’d collect the black currants off the little bush in your garden and you’d make pie, you’d take us collecting blackberries and nuts and we’d eat the nuts and you’d make blackberry pie and we’d eat it with either ice cream or custard.
We went on lots of adventures, you’d never tell us what was at the top of the hill and I’ve never found out. I don’t think I’d even know how to get there, as I’m older I’m guessing the other side is Aberdare. We collected tadpoles that the birds went for and we made you kept them for a week by the time we came back they were near enough frogs!
Toast, you made the best toast, no one can make toast like you could.
I could go on and on! The more I’m sitting thinking about the more I can remember.
All those hours spent playing with the puppy in my pockets, using the brass iron as a boat! The pegs being put in the holes we’d spend hours making patterns, now Z plays with those!
When you’d come up to babysit at ours and it was still light out you’d take us to the park well we’d go on a little walk but always end up in the park!
I’m glad that before dementia took you away from us completely that you were able to be at my wedding, at that point you were struggling with your memory, but you made it. I’m also glad you met Z, you knew I was having him, well some days you told me loose weight! That’s fine. You met Z he ran around your house. You remembered you knew him. You may not have remembered me but you knew you knew Z. I don’t think you ever really knew his name but you knew that little boy with the smile.
As time went on it was harder to come see you, you were disappearing right before our eyes, and at the early stages we would laugh, because if we didn’t laugh we’d leave your house crying. You would ask us if we wanted tea or coffee, you’d put the kettle on to boil and forget and turn it off, we’d have cold water in our coffee.
Christmas would become too much for you, all of us at yours Christmas morning you couldn’t work out why and you were putting your gifts away or trying to give them away! With the ‘well I don’t need another cup!’. I can’t say this is the first Christmas we won’t see you as I didn’t come last year, that was the first year I hadn’t seen you on Christmas Day.
You’d sit and look at the garden whilst we were sitting in the kitchen telling me if grampa were here that would be an allotment and a lawn. Around this time is the only time I’ve ever managed to get anything out of you about grampa, about how you used to meet on the bridge over the river Usk. Memories that I know that maybe not even your children do. That you’d walk half way each time until the one day grampa walked to your side.
Talking one day about your own parents you never spoke of them, this day you were saying about walking around Lord Bucklands grounds with you dad about catching poachers who were after the pheasants. All these stories you wouldn’t tell us when we were younger, but you would happily tell us before dementia wiped your memory completely. How you moved to here, if I remember correctly you followed your brother, and it was to do with jobs, how grampa had a job here so you moved too, along with your parents. Stories I’ll never get you to tell me again. Stories now I wish I could remember correctly.
Those days when you were willing to talk about your family were the days I could listen to you for hours but they were just snippets of your past, you would jump from meeting Grampa on the bridge to your son not going to school and that’s why he has bad knees from mitching! Back to how the garden would be a lawn and what Z’s name is. Those stories that I wish I could remember now that if you had told is growing up we’d remember them clearly.
Don’t forget your promise to me either!
R.I.P Nan x