No Tears

Stephanie, Jane, Nana & Charlotte Scarborough for 90th croppedfrom left to right – Stephanie, Jane, Nana and Charlotte at Scarborough for Nana’s 90th birthday

Stephanie (Granddaughter) and I (Jane, Daughter) left the hospital that night thinking of the words “No tears. I don’t want any tears. I love you, and you”. Nana pointed her finger at us each in turn. That day she tried to get out of her bed.

“Where are you going Nana?”

“I’m going shopping.”

“What do you need to buy?”

“Stephanie needs more clothes, I’m taking her shopping.”

“But the shops close in ten minutes.”

“Well I need strawberries”, she pointed to Jane saying “You can run to the shops, go on run and get me some strawberries.”

Stephanie and I both smiled at each other as the medication took over and Nana drifted off to sleep again and we left the hospital.

We both went to our own houses and got into bed, but our instincts kicked in and I was wide awake when the phone rang. Nana’s breathing had changed. We had to get back to the hospital.

“Stephanie it’s time. We have to go back now.”

“I’m awake Mum. I’ll pick you up, I had a feeling so I went to bed in my clothes to wait.”

“No tears. I don’t want tears” rang through my head as Stephanie held Nana’s hand and I held her other hand waiting, watching every breath Nana took, each breath was taking longer and longer but when the next one came, we both gave a sigh of relief, but then it happened, the next breath never came, Nana had gone. “No tears. I don’t want tears.”

There wasn’t time for tears. Doctor’s certificate to collect, coroner to sign it off, registration of death, funeral to arrange, wake to arrange, must let friends and family know, need to contact the vicar.

“I have no time for tears. She didn’t want tears.”

The funeral was over but still “No time for tears. Nana didn’t want tears.”.

Need to sort Nana’s personal things out at the bungalow, need to get the estate agent to value, need to contact solicitor, need to find Nana’s will.

“No time for tears.”

I go round to Nana’s everyday to draw the curtains or leave a light on. I see her sitting in her chair, I see Grandpa tending to his fuchsias in the garden, they are both still here but something isn’t right, it’s too quiet.

“No time for tears.”

I have to sort Nana’s clothes out. I have to go through her private things. We had never had secrets but it didn’t feel right, they were Nana’s personal things, it felt wrong, but “No tears. I don’t want tears.”.

So I began to sort through Nana’s clothes, I smell them. Nana’s smell is still on them, the sweet perfume she wore that Stephanie used to buy her still lingered. I check her pockets, there was a silver coin or two in every coat pocket so I put them all in a little pot at the side of Nana’s bed.

“No tears. I don’t want tears.” kept going through my head as I put the clothes into black bin liners ready to take to the charity shop. Hanging in the wardrobe were two of Grandpa’s suits still. Nana had never been able to get rid of all Grandpa’s things, she did her best but it was too painful for her. Stephanie and I couldn’t do it either, so the suits now hang in Stephanie’s wardrobe as they held so many memories for her.

The little knick-knacks were boxed up ready once again for the charity shop. We kept what had been so very precious to Nana and those items are now on display in our own homes, each one having some meaning or memory.

Seeing furniture being taken to the homeless, the bungalow was now looking empty and finally her bed went. I stand in the living room just looking around, I walk through the bungalow visiting each room in turn, all so empty and then it happens, I can’t hold back the tears any longer.

“I’m sorry Nana, I know you are still here and Grandpa too. I can feel your presence. Why have you left us? You should be here for us always, a mum should be here for her daughter always, and my girls need you. Oh Nana.”

The sold sign goes up and suddenly it all seems to be final, one last thing we have to do is say goodbye to the place we had once loved so very much.

The kettle is boiling, there are little sandwiches and cakes on plates and we sit on the floor of the now empty living room and say a final goodbye to what was once our loving home.

“If Nana and Grandpa are watching us, they would be laughing and smiling at us” I say to my girls.

Charlotte, Stephanie’s sister has travelled from Newcastle to join us in our little tea party farewell. We pack up our belongings, take one more look around, I put the key in the door and as I turn it in the lock, knowing we would never be going back again, the tears flowed freely down our faces as we walked away. We still pass Nana’s bungalow and as we do so, point to it and say “That’s where our Nana and Grandpa used to live.”

Stephanie & Charlotte run

 

 

 

 

Stephanie and Charlotte ready for the Great North Run raising money for Hayward House who looked after Nana

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Louise shares her memories of Grandad Roy

Notts pubsI don’t know why but quality time with me grandad always seemed to be in the pub. To this day I think about the Trip to Jerusalem in Nottingham and the Bell in the Old Market Square as our family fun locations. It wasn’t very often that the Wildish’ would get together, but when we did it was usually daytime drinks in these pubs.

 

So me Grandad, Roy, was hardcore. A really lovely great good morals kind of man. Like most grandads he fought in WWII and like most he refused to talk about it even when asked. He was the first non-medical personnel in the liberation of Belsen.  He drove a tank, and out of his whole battalion – Churchill’s Butchers, he was one of only a few to come back. That never left him, he had guilt and only now in adulthood having googled Belsen concentration camp, can I ever come remotely close to know how he got through the rest of his life being a father and a grandad and functioning normally, although I saw snippets of how he didn’t at times throughout his life… Anyway, Roy was amazing to me.

Liberation of BelsenThe liberation of Belsen

So this snippet, was the family get together on a few days before Xmas, I don’t even know what year… I think I was about 24ish and he was in his 70’s (sadly Roy is no longer with us). For some reason it ended up being me, me dad and me grandad (forgive the grammar, I’m speaking Nottingham!) It was usually more of us, but this time just us three.

For some reason I remember me dad had to go early after a few pints – we were all having a good old time drinking a couple of pints and chatting away. Me dad and grandad always covered Forest in conversation, that’s Notts Forest and their progress or lack of, and we always talked about who was doing what in the family and giving our opinions.

So me dad had about 3 pints as did we and then had to leave, thinking back now, I don’t know why, perhaps a hot date, but he left.

Normally I was only ever in the company of me grandad with me dad so there was this moment where we both thought: ah that’s it then I guess that’s the day over and we will say our goodbyes. So I think I just said, have you gotta go or do you fancy another?

Needless to say we both had about 8-10 pints each that afternoon/night. I remember thinking, how much can grandad drink, and then remembered some of his old stories, but what if he has a heart attack (again) and it’s my fault…

But do you know what… I had the best time. The best and not because of the 8 pints, although it played a part. You see, we talked and talked. He told me how great he thought me partner was (and glad he wasn’t anything like my dad or brother – that’s his own son btw) and he talked about his life, and most importantly he talked about the war and the times that were hard in his life. Man he had some amazing stories, some horrifying life and death stories, stuff I will hopefully never ever see, or situations I will never ever be in, for the first time he opened up about Belsen and how it affected him, not because of the drink, but probably because for the first time ever, he and I had hours together. He didn’t go into massive detail, but he told me enough to bring tears, build my respect for him tenfold, and get to know me grandad for the great, utterly great man that he was.

Some was emotional, others hilarious and I learnt about his jobs, his loves and his life.

We connected.

So he opened up, and I respect that, I really to this day respect that. And I’ve never forgot that day.

So 8-10 pints later, we were both drunk, we covered life, love, wars and hopes for the future.

I think around 8pm (we’d been out since 1) and when I realised I was at the chips and mushy peas stage, and of course the realisation that not only I was drunk but I was with my 86 year old grandad who was totally plastered too, albeit nowhere near as drunk as me, I thought I really had better get him home.

So we gave each other massive hugs, we were laughing loads and I put him on the bus (he was conscious) and off he went home, waving as he went, and so did I. I was sick. When I got home.

The next time I saw him, we laughed about our adventure, he kept saying how much he  enjoyed the day, and we both had a new found respect, me for just who he was, and he, I for downing 8 pints and keeping up with him! He was ok that night and said he felt a bit rough the next day, but I mean the man drove tanks… That day was nothing. He lived for a good few years after that. I’m proud to be his granddaughter.

So whilst this isn’t an amazing story about anything in particular. It was the afternoon that me and grandad really connected, the time I found out about him for the whole man he was, not just me grandad. I think I loved him more after that day, and I miss him still a lot. It really is my fondest memory, which is probably wrong on some levels… But I don’t care and neither will he.

For Roy x  Granddad Roy