Nan and Mum
Spotlight Writing

A poem for Nan

And at home there were flowers in vases – with always a flower for mum...

My nan passed away this year in March. She was awesome so I wrote a poem about her, which was included in the service booklet. My brother and I also made a short doc about her amazing life (trapeze artist, surviving Hamburg fire bombs, falling in love and moving to Scotland) which you can watch here.

Nan was proud of her red-gold hair – and though we knew her as white, the fire was always there.
Her blue-grey eyes were sometimes defiant, mostly kind: all-seeing windows to a curious mind.

As a Midship Girl she seemed a shooting star, while admiring the fine-plumed horses from afar.

Ida Mays Midship Girls

Uncomplaining, she was strong – a fighter never bested. Unwavering in spirit, though she’d often been tested.
And of spirits she was fond, it’s true: whiskey, Irish Meadow, sherry, Amaretto – a sip of ice wine with a cigarette or two…

Sometimes she came home on the milk float she said; told us that she’d danced a winning Charleston with Ted.
She remembered gallivanting with Lena and Ron, and had many tales from Scotland, of which she was fond.

Nan and Ted

But I remember cucumber sandwiches and cocoa on the candlelit balcony. Afternoon naps and playing gin rummy.
She taught me how to swim and how to make marble cake, and in fluffy socks around her kitchen I’d skate.
She’d put the biscuit tin just out of reach – but would be the first with her fingers in it and chocolate ‘round her face.
At Christmas she’d make stollen and chew on chicken wings. And would turn off her hearing aid if there was too much of a din.
She’d walk us through the meadows or up St Catherine’s Hill, or sit on a bench by the river, but – she was never really still.

The walking stick I bought her looked like Fred Astaire’s cane – and she’d wave it like a glamorous conductor, draped in necklaces of amber or jade.
In her carefully pressed trousers, cashmere and red coat she cut a fine figure about town; was always ready with a wave or a smile, never letting the world get her down.

Felicitas Riley

And at home there were flowers in vases – with always a flower for mum. And in the afternoon she’d turn all the pictures around to save them from the sun.

You’re my favourite granddaughter and he’s my favourite grandson,” Nan would reply when tested.

But we were lucky to have had all these years with her and, really, it was she who was best.