77 years old, 1 year gone.

Dearest Grandma,

It's your birthday today, and at just gone midnight it will have been a year since you left us – I always say 'left us', because for some reason saying 'passed away' seems flimsy and ugly. It doesn't fit you right. 
You seem like an angelic being, full of faith and sunshine, that flew in some time in the late 50s, directly into the De La Warr Pavillion and onto the dance floor opposite this unsuspecting man, my Grandad.
You flew away in 2015, after almost 55 years of marriage; over 52 years of being a parent and almost 22 being a grandparent. 

We take care of Grandad, don't worry. He's saying 'yes' to anything and everything these days, going here and there, keeping busy and letting us be there for him. He's honest about his feelings, too. He tells us when he's having a bad day, when it's all a bit much, when he doesn't fancy doing something...which we so appreciate. He's sharing.
He says he won't be much sadder today, on the anniversary – he says every day is an anniversary.

Grandad often says he feels you around him – I do too, at times. A day will seem especially shiny, people will pass me and smile, sometimes a scent travels through the air and I catch it. We've celebrated all our birthdays in the past year, and you've been present at every lunch or dinner. We always consider you, take a moment to acknowledge you, and I'm pretty sure we all agree that you're nearby.

I have mixed feelings when I see sweet, small older women. Sometimes they are marching along with their partner, or with a group of girl friends. Sometimes they're alone. I hear their voices, their light chattering; I see their bright hair and padded jackets, loose drawstring trousers and sensible shoes; I can smell their perfume and feel their sturdy stubborn temperament beneath the gentle loving warmth.
Sometimes I get upset. I went through a phase of bursting into tears, full-on gulping sobbing tears, each time an old lady crossed my path or sat near me on a train. I'd cry because they are so lovely, so precious, and I don't have one any more. I don't have that in my life. I'm missing it. It's missing from me.
Sometimes I smile. I can't stop myself smiling. I talk to them whenever possible. The other day when I was choosing my lunch in M&S, they all flocked to me asking what was in the meal deal, where they could find this or that...I happily conversed with each of them, so grateful they'd felt they could talk to me – then one exclaimed 'oh, I can't make sense of all this!' and tutted before laughing, and I swear I heard you. It was adorable. I had to pay for my lunch and run around the corner to indulge in a good cry. 

I hope you're alright wherever you are. I'd say 'up there' but that doesn't seem like the right thing to say, either.
On the day of your funeral – wow, that's a horrible word too – as we left the building the service was in I sought out our lovely friend Clare, she hugged me while we both cried and she told me you were with her dad. I then immediately pictured you and Hughie walking along the seafront together – this seafront that exists Somewhere Else, somewhere we can't go just yet – laughing, swapping stories from your families and gossiping about your peers in the little home town. That made me feel everything, but mostly better.
Recently I read a lovely little post online saying that Prince has gone up to some pearly gates to meet Bowie, who simply says 'let's jam'. So they play a gig and raise the roof off the heavens.
I read this aloud to my parents, and they both said 'Grandma could watch'. I like that idea. I bet you'd chatter with Bowie – and get his autograph for dad, even though you have no way of passing it on to him, you'd just want to do that for your son.
You've always been a giver. Mum gave a speech at your funeral about how amazing you were to her when she moved across the world from her family and needed a mum – how you helped her endlessly when she had her two kids, you'd take them off her hands and entertain for hours. I remember that.
I remember you making me peanut butter sandwiches and sitting with me on the carpet putting the Mary Poppins video on; I remember the giggling happening during sleepovers in each of your various bungalows; I remember showing you university prospectuses and hearing your 'ooh's; I remember your excitement the night before my graduation and our jokes about the handsome waiter serving us all dinner.

We still call out 'look at that one, Mervyn!' when a plane flies overhead. Dad is constantly hearing the words 'just like your mum' from everyone. And yes, we are still chuckling at your accidental cheekiness when you told us which kind of apple was your favourite...

We all remember you, we all miss you, we always will.

Hope all is well with you, and that you're having a splendid time every day. 
Especially today, as it is your birthday. 

G (+ J, D, F & M).



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