Grandma's funeral was on Monday. I'd offered - well, asked - to do a reading; I felt that if someone else did it, I'd sit there chafing about how much better I would have done it.
I didn't think it would be that big a deal, as I used to enter Verse Speaking Competitions and take English Speaking Board exams at school. In fact I was terrified, and my heart has never beaten so fast as in the minutes leading up to My Bit. But it nicely kept my mind off the wider implications of the ceremony.
What I was dreading was meeting all the people who'd heard so much about me and what a great granddaughter I was, but they were all as nice as pie. It was a fitting testimony to my grandmother that all her friends and associates were so charming, and that so many of them attended.
Here are some of the things I have looted from Grandma's flat:
- Perfume bottle shaped like a cat I've coveted ever since I was little
- Letter rack shaped like a sausage dog, ditto
- Small silver artificial Christmas tree, purchased 1970s
- Icing syringe and nozzles
- Strawberry huller
- Fan steamer
- Motorcycle battery charger
- Tyre pressure gauge
- Hand-drill and assorted bits
- Set of jeweller's screwdrivers
- Misc. baking equipment
- Misc. tins of baked beans and packets of cereal
- Misc. cross stitch patterns and equipment
I do feel rather like a grave robber. But I can say with absolute certainty that 'she would have wanted me to have them', because she was always incredibly generous - especially where her only grandchild was concerned. When I was quite small she once said "I don't have any pretty things left in this house - I've given them all to you!" Although she was joking, I was utterly mortified and from then on I was careful never to admire anything too enthusiastically, in case she insisted on giving it to me.
It was the tiny stuffed lion that made me cry.
She bought him in the charity shop where she worked for a while. He had the sweetest expression and used to perch on one of the shelves in the kitchen. I can just imagine Grandma being amused by what a 'soppy thing' he was and taking him home. When he came out of the bag I spent a while sniffing his mane - it smelled of her flat, a smell I've known forever and will never forget.