A sad day for Grandma’s Poetry Book

Cover of Grandma's Poetry Book by Di Castle

Grandma’s Poetry Book is collection of poems charting a nostalgic journey taken by a first time grandmother as she adapts to her new role and views her daughters becoming mothers and witnesses the changes in parenting styles when compared to the 1960s and 1970s.

The book begins in 2 years BG (before grandchild) with the author and her friend sharing shopping outings, meals, coffees and undisturbed chats as they disclose confidences such as their reluctance to have their lives changed in any way, particularly with regard to grandchildren. Tongue in cheek the first verses illustrate a time when we could not imagine how addictive the whole grandparenting experience would be.  The three illustrations for the first three poems reflect this reluctance which, of course, is soon set aside once the babies arrive. The third poem – All Change – was inspired by the day when my friend announced her daughter-in-law’s pregnancy.The poems refer to ‘my friend Mo’ and readers of Grandma’s Poetry Book will know the character. Mo was actually a real life friend but I will call her Mo here as she was and is such an important part of my life especially in the days before I became a grandmother myself. When I was seriously ill in 2013 she asked me to go to stay with her but I could not drive and would not have managed to pull my wheelie case on the train. So she came to me and we shared precious times over a few days. She asked about Grandma’s Poetry Book and she read the early drafts, giggling appropriately. ‘I remember that day’ she said. When the book was published last year, hers was the first complimentary copy I posted out. She was always smiling, laughing, feisty and witty. Her daughter-in-law described as ‘nuts’ which is probably why we got on so well.

At the time of publication (November 2014) my friend had been fighting ovarian cancer for well over a year, a struggle which she appeared to be winning. Hair loss did not bother her and did not temper her shopping habit as she accumulated several hats and wigs for the last two winters. Her positivity was unbounded, her humour untarnished, her love and affection for me unstinting. She was the friend everyone should have. We could pick up the phone and the intervening months or years would melt away. It was as if we had spoken only yesterday. Despite great distance we met up a few times a year and were in touch on email. After her diagnosis I telephoned more often. I sought out humorous emails I had stored on the computer and sent them to her. I posted the occasional bar of chocolate.

Over the last six months there was less contact and several hoped-for meetings did not happen as she spent more time in hospital. We did exchange emails and I would try to imagine her smiling at something silly I wrote that had happened. ‘You always make me laugh’ she answered not so long ago and she referred to the strong love she had for me. At the time I did not realise she was having ‘the conversation’ but I too began unwittingly to unwrap our friendship in my emails, praising her for her positivity and humour. I told her that, should I be struck down with something similar, I would be led by her example and buy hats and wigs. It was early summer, very warm and she answered that it was now too hot to wear them. ‘A scarf’ I suggested and without asking I sped down the road and browsed an array of lightweight scarves in a local shop.  I chose one I felt would go with most outfits, stuffed it in one of the padded envelopes I use for posting Grandma’s Poetry Book and headed back to the post office.  In my hurry I forgot to say who it was from but she remembered that I had mentioned it and texted me to ask if it had come from me. Whether she wore it or not I am not sure but I like to think that she did like my choice and wore it when out and about.

Mo lost her fight quite suddenly on 10th October this year. I was on holiday when she passed but knew that she was failing fast and not eating so I expected to hear the sad news on my return. I dreaded to hear that I had missed the funeral but I needn’t have worried. Ten days ago Other Half and I travelled up to say our final goodbyes. My body was racked with sobs punctuated with laughter as her son related humorous incidents from his mother’s life. I learnt things I had not known about her and a friend and I exchanged alarming looks when he mentioned some whacky photographs he had found in an album dating back to the late seventies and eighties.

Afterwards the son told me his mother ‘thought the world of you’ and my voice cracked when I said ‘I thought the world of her too’. There are photographs in the albums of our children playing when young he said. I promised to write at length to the two brothers but have only just felt I could put words on the page with this blog. I think of my friend every day and she will always be in my life. I picture her as she was

But, more than that, her memory lives on in the first three poems of Grandma’s Poetry Book. I have her to thank for those experiences.

 

Grandma’s Poetry Book is published by Matador and is available on http://www.dicastle.co.uk or direct from the author

Follow me on @dinahcas

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