©2017 by James Hewlett.

  • James Hewlett

Ninety Five


Today is my grandmas ninety fifth birthday! That is old as fuck. Thats three years older than the queen. Thats a year younger than Betty White.

My grandma has been alive since Warren G. Harding was US President and there have been sixteen different presidents since then.

Bonar Law was Prime Minister when my grandma was born and since then there have been twenty two since.

My grandma is one of the very few people who has not only had a queen ruling her country but three separate kings before that!

She was sixteen at the onset of World War Two and met and married my grandad during that war. In her time, our country has been involved with over twenty different wars or conflicts. For her entire life, 1961 has been the only year that the UK has not been involved with some military action of some sort.

After almost one hundred years of constant conflict, you wouldn’t blame someone for being a little bitter or jaded after all that time. Thats not my grandma though, sure she has her blue days, but that mostly comes from first losing my dad, her only child, when he was just forty nine and then my grandad only a couple of years later. It sounds selfish to say but it can be really challenging to see her when she’s like that and its one of the reasons my brother pretty much doesn’t at all anymore. I disagree with that course of action though. I’m not going to lie and say I’m some kind of saint who sees or speaks to her nearly as much as I should but when I do I can see the difference it makes.

She has had a long and mostly good life, when Sara and I visit her and it’s just us, not lots of other people and distractions around, she has some amazing stories. Things like her and my grandads secret codes they would use to communicate his location during the war. I didn’t know until just last year that he was part of the naval blockade in Japan and the south pacific when Hiroshima and Nagasaki were bombed.

In the thirty years I’ve been alive my grandma has never been the kind of person to sit and watch a movie for fun, sure my grand parents might take me to the cinema when I was a kid and my grandad enjoys films but my grandma never really had the attention span for them or much fiction at all really. The only TV she watches are game shows and sports, she isn’t a big reader preferring puzzle books and jigsaws and she doesn’t really pay too much attention to the news other than the

weather. Maybe she once did and at this point doesn’t really care because of how little it effects her life. I can kind of appreciate that. I’m really glad she doesn’t go out to vote any more for instance. Completely off topic but if people under eighteen can’t vote I don’t think anyone over seventy should be able to either, leave it for the people it actually effects.

Health wise my grandma is kind of a mystery, one day she can seem quite fit and healthy, able enough to potter through her house and get her self cups of tea and onto and off of her stairlift. She really fought against having that installed but her staircase is so steep that it often feels more like a ladder even for me.

Other days she seems very decrepit and I come away wondering if thats the last time I’ll see her. She’s had a number of falls in the past ten years and each once seems to have longer lingering problems attached to it. But again, when I see her in a smaller group in a quieter setting, without people shouting at her so she can hear, you can actually get a really good conversation out of her. She is still very much switched on and isn’t ignorant to things around her, bringing up Jon for instance, she’s not stupid, she knows he avoids her as much as possible and its really heart breaking to hear it sometimes. I hope that I see her enough that she doesn’t think I feel it is a chore.

We could only stop by for a short visit today as Sara had to get to work but it was nice to see her. My mum and Paul were there, they’re are both brilliant to my grandma by the way, especially considering they have no obligation to be, my mum and dad divorced six years before he died and Paul only came into the picture about a year before, since my dads death though and especially since my grandads they have really taken care of my grandma and it is really nice. My sister and niece came before we had to split too, Joey, my nephew was at some kids birthday party but Lucy bought Sienna along, ninety years between them! It’s really sweet, my grandma got to be a great-grandma twice over, I doubt Sara and I will have kids before she pops her clogs but you never know, could be three times over.

#health #memories #selfreflection #family #history