Dear Max and Rebecca
Yesterday morning our granny Elza passed away, and I got a beautiful condolence message, which read: “Hold onto your memories”.
It’s these memories that are making me cry as I type this, and since you never really knew your gran, it’s these memories that I’ll try to share here. I realise though that while it’s cathartic for me to pen my thoughts, trying to explain your incredible gran is much like describing a fantastic city that you’ll never experience – I can rave and rave about it, and you’ll get a mild sense, but you’ll never get to live the wonder of that city.
But let me try. And let me say from the onset that for the last few years I’ve been missing my gran and mourning her and what was. While she looked a bit like my gran, she had lost the essence or functionality of what made her so loved. Instead of the strong, smart and capable gran, time or just life had stolen that, and we were left with a beautiful shadow who was being looked after, following decades of her looking after us.
What are the memories I’m keeping close? Sleeping at her every second Saturday night when we were young, and looking forward to amazing cooking and nurturing. Sunday roasts. Her drinking a whisky most evenings. Her being an exceptional single parent – and gran – for many years. Her croquembuche, meatloaf, apple crumble, roast potatoes, melon basket (she used to carve an actual basket from a watermelon). Her taking on a motherly role in my life when my mom couldn’t always. Estee Lauder’s Beautiful, which I can never smell without thinking of her. Her writing all my Afrikaans speeches when I needed them for school. Her pride – things weren’t always easy, but you would never ever know; she protected us from everything.
She taught me how to make the best fudge in her world, and when I went to a three-week youth camp at age 10 (10!!!!), one of my best memories of my homesick-ridden three weeks was of all the fudge she sent with me. I wonder if she knew how much it would bind me to home? My fudge has never been as good as hers, and I doubt it ever will be, and it has nothing to do with the teacher she was. Rather, I’m probably not as patient as she was, nor am I putting in the sufficient love required.
I am so utterly sorry that you’ll never know her as I did, and I’m sorry that my attempt to share any memory or feeling won’t be as gigantic as she was. All I can do in future is go through pictures, tell stories, and try my best to emulate her good qualities, and be a better mom.
I will miss the sweetness of being someone’s grandchild, and I will miss how someone to cut lovingly out all my published stories from the papers and paste them in a scrapbook, just like granny used to do. I will long for her presence forever. Between her and my late gran Renee, I’ve been truly blessed.
Feature image: Shutterstock
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