I’ve been thinking about my gran a lot recently. More than normal perhaps. Weird how you can miss someone who’s been dead for almost 20 years.
My gran told me this story when I was growing up and, although I’ve told it before, she’s been on my mind, so indulge me. Besides it’s a good story.
My gran and grandfather were both Irish, and while neither were educated and booksmart, both were bright people. This story isn’t an ‘Irish’ joke before you get all ‘right on’ on me. This actually happened. And yes, they really were both called Molly and Paddy.
My gran bought some non-stick pans. Her first set of Teflon covered marvels. It was the 1960’s so they cost a fair amount of money, but she considered them a worthy and labour-saving purchase. No more scrubbing for her. These new pans would save her time when washing up, after doing the cooking, after a long day at work in kitchens where she was scrubbing pans the size of bathtubs.
The next morning she went off to work. My grandfather had a day off for some reason and was gonna be at home all day. Possibly he’d been gassed, again, and told to take some rest. My granddad was the man sent down to fix gas leaks, and with that came some hazards, like being gassed. He was, in some senses, a canary.
When my gran came home from work, my grandfather was sitting reading the newspaper, with a smile on his face.
“Good day Molly?”
“Yes Paddy. I’m off to make some dinner before Mary and Pat get home from school”
My grandfather folded up his newspaper and stood up. Proudly he said “By the way, I cleaned those new pans you bought.”
My gran went into the kitchen and saw her new pans on the draining board, shining and not a trace of Teflon anywhere to be seen.
“I tell you Molly. That black stuff on those pans was a fucker to get off.”
The last time she told me this story she stopped here and looked at me fiercely, angrily, this a week before she went to the nursing home.
“The place’ll smell like boiled cabbage and shepherds pie. These places always do. I’m going there to die Spencer. I’m told I’m depressed because I talk about death all the time, my death, but wouldn’t you be depressed if you’re being taken out of your home and carted off to one of those places?”
“I’m sorry I couldn’t do more to stop it. I’ll come and visit. I promise.”
“You’d better. Or I’ll come and haunt you.”
The anger dissipated. She was tired. She smiled and finished the story.
“Anyway, I’d spent a lot of money on those pans, a lot of money. It was about a week’s pay! And he’d gone and cleaned them so… Well, I can’t say they were no use. They were still pans. But what could I say? He’d done what he thought was right. He wasn’t thick your grandfather, he just got it wrong. But his heart was in the right place.”
“So. After seeing the pans on the draining board, I put the kettle on and went into the living room. “You did a grand job Paddy. Cup of tea?”
After my grandfather died, twenty-odd years later, my gran bought a new set of non-stick pans. She said, “if I’d bought another set when Paddy was alive he would’ve tried to clean those too. Bless him.”
Funny story huh? Got loads like that from my gran and, if you wanted, I’d sit you down and tell them. Retelling them, somehow, makes her feel alive to me. Something I need sometimes.
A friend’s mum once told me about missing her husband who’d died many years before. “There isn’t a time limit on grief. Those who tell you to buck up and get over it are talking shit.”
I guess what I mean by this post, the point of it, is that it’s okay to miss someone who was important to you. By writing this I’m forgiving myself for doing so and not beating myself by thinking “Oh god shouldn’t I be over this by now?” I’m allowing it.
After all, the fact you still miss people shows how important they were in the first place.
Thanks for reading.