This is by far the hardest post I have had to write, mainly as I know that the words I tie together into sentences will do no justice to what I want to tell you about.
Regardless of this I have decided to tell you about Pamela James, my grandmother who died this week at the grand old age of 95. She was my greatest inspiration and I will be forever thankful for the path she put me on. Without question there is a lot of who I am which can be put fully down to granny. She was born and raised in India, she was the reason I chose to travel there for my gap year a decision that shaped who I am as an adult. All that India imparted upon me comes ultimately from her. She wrote everything down, I mean literally everything, without a doubt if blogging was accessible to the computer illiterate lady she was, she would have had a blog so prolific it would have been hourly. She was a food fanatic, a traveller, a mean tennis player, whip smart and the kindest of heart.
The story that I have been most fascinated with is how my grandparents met. During the Second World War they were both posted to Gibraltar, Granny with the WAAF and Grandpa with the RAF. One night the South African Air Force had arranged a dance and both of them went. As legend goes Grandpa was sat amongst his chums when he heard a lady’s footsteps coming up the stairs, he turned to them and said before laying eyes on her, “I am going to marry that woman”. The two of them danced the night away laughing and talking but at the end of the night went their separate ways. Granny thinking she would never hear from him again boarded a short flight to Morocco to enjoy two days leave from work. A little way into the flight the captain comes on the tannoy and announces that a Jimmy James has requested a Pamela Keelan to please look out to the right of the aircraft. Out of the window was my grandpa flying his Hurricane aeroplane wing to wing with the passenger plane she was on. The plane landed and in Granny’s words “I never looked back and loved that man for 55 years until he died.” It is a story so beautiful its enough to make a cold heart warm, isn’t it?
I decided to actually write about her rather than keeping my loss personal due to a show I saw at the Edinburgh Fringe this weekend. The show was called Grandpa, Hitler and Me and consisted of comedian Luke Toulson telling the story of his Grandfather and Grandmother’s relationship through the letters that they sent to each other during the war dispersed with wit-filled humour and heartfelt sentiment. I found the whole show very cathartic because I have letters sent from Grandpa to Granny and have been reading through some of them this week following her death. Their love, much like my grandparents seems far more epic than any today. Set against the backdrop of war and how the way they talked of love has faded into Hollywood fantasies only. He ended with asking if his grandkid would do a play at the Fringe about the texts he sends to his girlfriend, to which the reply was of course not. Too many swear words, lol’s and mundane mumblings about Tesco shopping lists.
So this is why I am writing through the grief, to encourage everyone to write your life down and to make stories that matter for as I have said before in the end all that remains is the memories we have made. I write because perhaps one day my grandkids will come across this blog and understand a bit of who they are from the random ramblings of their grandpa when he was in his twenties. Hopefully it will make them feel not so alone in who they are.
Finally readers I want to end with a little advice: Hold your family close, my friends, for one day all that will remain will be the void left in their wake and those are the darkest of days.