Nanny - with cold hands
Mum has just dropped by to tell me the good news of your results! I am so pleased for you - all that hard work and many cups of tea - (especially those at "no. 17") have paid off! If you will be raising a glass or two with your friends, have one on me and I will put the kettle on here!
With my love and congratulations,
(with cold hands)"
This letter was written to me eight years ago by my maternal grandmother, known to me as Nanny, after she'd found out I got a distinction in my MA and therefore could continue on to my doctoral studies. It's one of my favourite possessions and is in a frame on my chest of drawers. I read it twice a day, as I'm getting up in the mornings and going to bed.
My mum is an only child, so my brother and I were the only grandchildren and we were absolutely doted upon. When they died, and mum was reading through their diaries, they were full of things we had done - from little things to big things. We each had a day of the week where they would look after us. It started as a few hours when we were little, to then picking us up after school and giving us dinner before driving us home (always with a Jaffa cake for the 'long' drive back home). We never lived very far away, but when we were in junior school we moved to live in the same street (hence the reference to 'no.17'). Thursdays were 'my' day, I'd be picked up from primary school (or cycle back from secondary) and then go and have dinner with them. When I got a bit older, and my after-school commitments too great, I'd still go round there on many evenings - sometimes to just say hello, sometimes I'd take homework and spread all over their dining room table. They would supply me with plenty of tea and lots of thick slices of bread and butter and blackcurrant jam. Pretty much every exam I've sat has been revised for at their table.
When they died, my brother and I wandered round their house and it was the little objects we wanted to take. I've no idea why Nanny had a wind-up toy mouse (covering the letter's address) but I wanted it, and now it lives on my bookcase - I wind it up occasionally. I've kept this letter, and a beautiful handmade patchwork quilt among other things.
I'll forever be sad that my grandparents didn't quite live long enough to see me and my brother be awarded our doctorates, meet our current partners and embark on careers we love. But little things like this letter, which really are pretty big things, will forever remind me how loved we were, and how unbelievably proud they would be of our successes, both personal and professional.