It’s close to midnight and I am sitting in my childhood bedroom. With butterflies. Tomorrow I take my trip to the Isle of Wight. To write and reflect and find my Nana.
I lost her last year. In a haze of horrible scenes where she drifted in and out of some weird world she was inhabiting. She never stopped recognising me. Not even in the last few days when I held her hand in the home while people wandered in and out of her room looking for their garden or Gregory Peck or just someone to talk to. She probably couldn’t have told you my name, but the flicker of recognition that crossed her face when I entered the room was enough for me to believe she knew.
She was only there in that room for a few days. To die I suppose. All hope was left in the hospital and a haunting few days followed. She gripped my hand so tightly. Pulled on it as if she was trying to stay in the world. She was always so full of life before her stroke. I can imagine her putting up a fight when she saw the light. She probably tried to get the Grim Reaper to join in on an old music hall number. I doubt she would have ever been ready to go.
On Wednesday this week, my brother and his girlfriend had their first baby. You’d expect me to say it, but she really is beautiful. Perfectly soft skin, tiny little finger nails, that strangely addictive smell you’ll know if you’ve ever held a baby before it’s been washed for the very first time. Her name is Jasmine and her mere presence is exciting, uplifting and full of hope. It’s strange that Nana will never hold her or sing to her or play cards with her over a mug of milky coffee. Jasmine is the first baby in the family since Nana died. She will never meet her great grandmother, but she will hear all about her.
Yesterday, when I woke up and knew I’d be seeing my new niece later that evening, I picked out a skirt I’d never worn. I chose it because it reminded me of Nana and I wanted to take her with me. Calf-length, pleated, with a high waist, it was exactly the sort of skirt Nana would have owned. I bought it from a charity shop at Christmas for that very reason. A few times during the day, as I sat at my desk in that skirt, I thought about Nana and how much she would have loved to meet Jasmine. How she always made children the centre of attention and was never too busy to turn off the TV or put down her book and play with them instead. Jasmine would have loved her. Everybody did.
That night, when I sat on the floor with my tiny niece for the first time, I laid her across my skirt. And something inside me made believe that Jasmine and Nana were saying hello. Stupid really, it wasn’t even Nana’s skirt.
But it made me smile.
Find out more about my Making Tracks project – Finding Nana.