Towards the end of the 80’s my Mum and Dad separated, and in doing so, my Dad returned to live closer to his parents in Welwyn Garden City, Hertfordshire. My brother and I stayed living with our Mum in Leicestershire and would spend every other weekend with our Dad, more often in Welwyn.
Over the years my Nana has taught me how to Knit, how to sew, how to make a lemon meringue, how to play Uno, where to find Grandad’s hidden biscuits and how to make tea with tea leaves.
My weekends and holidays with my Dad would very often be spent with my Nana and Great Aunt Ruby in their sewing room pinning curtains and collecting the scraps of fabric. I loved helping my Nana and I loved how she would so patiently sit with me while I tried to knit a cardigan for my new baby cousin, Haydn.
I am the eldest of six grandchildren.
We unfortunately lost our Grandad in May 2009 and today my Nana joined my him.
My Nana has spent the last 6 years cruelly consumed by vascular dementia.
In 2006, my Nana ended up in hospital on a psychiatric ward. I walked into the hospital and was told by the ward nurse that my Nana was in the social room. I walked in and saw 10-15 people sitting in a semi circle, but I couldn’t see my Nana. I walked out, asked again and was assured she was in there. I came back and didn’t recognise her; she was a shadow of the person I knew. I walked her out of the social room and took her to her hospital bed. I told my Nana how much I loved her and how I needed her to do some knitting for me. This is when I told my Nana that I was pregnant and that I needed her to make a blanket for her third great grandchild. I decorated her hospital bed with photographs and called the hospital frequently prompting my Nana to have something positive to focus on and how much I needed her. She came out of hospital a few weeks later. This is when we found out Nana had vascular dementia, but had no idea of how it would impact her.
The last memory I have of her talking to me as my Nana, was not long after she had been admitted to a care home as her “episodes” were getting more frequent. She wouldn’t let me see her in the lounge with other residents; we sat together in the waiting area. She sat next to me, wouldn’t look at me or talk to me. I tried to make idle chit-chat with her, telling her about me having the girls in the car, what we had been up to and how I’d love her to see the girls. My Nana took my hand, turned and whispered, “I don’t want to be here, I just want to be dead”.
Dementia is a cruel disease and honestly, as much as I am sad that my Nana has passed, I am happy that she is finally at peace. She is now in the night sky with my Grandad, free to smell her roses, and free from dementia.
Thank you Nana for all that you have taught me, thank you for all that you have given me and thank you for the love that you shared with me. I am going to miss you so much ❤️