July 6th 2016
This was my Gran’s house – A bungalow situated next to a public path in Bradley, West Yorkshire. A quiet little village with a pub, a village store and a church where Gran used to go line dancing back in the day!
I liked to visit Gran as often as I could, sometimes with the calvery in tow, other times just with little George – When he was tiny he’d fall asleep on the rug in her living room with the sound of her fire in the background, one of those sounds that instantly made you feel sleepy!
Gran’s symptoms with Alzheimer’s initially were very slow to show, growing old, being forgetful? at 80 odd years old isn’t really anything out of the ordinary.
She LOVED birds and especially owls, a keen bird watcher in days past I think everyone that knew her bought her some kind of owl ornament one way or another!
As soon as I arrived with either George or all three Gran would dash to the back bedroom for the toy box, the wee ones enjoyed playing a game of pairs (with the very same set of cards myself and my brothers played with!) – George liked the barrels and Grace and Archie the felt tips and colouring books (always had me on edge when they got them out!)
I remember taking this photograph and I’m SURE she’s looking through the ‘medical book’ – (everyone has one! Haha) – She was starting to show signs that were worrying but still very capable and as a very independent woman she certainly let you know when she wasn’t happy with something!
Gran was ‘Miss Organised’ in pretty much all aspects of her life, right until she couldn’t cope with it anymore – which wasn’t that long ago. She’d prepare the kitchen for the following morning – I remember staying over as a child and the porridge oats would be ready to cook the next morning, with a dollop of golden syrup!
Her chair – As with everything else the table next to her chair was kept for her things, all in their own place, the TV Times, her diary, comb etc…
She’s on the phone to Mum here… I was trying to be discreet with my camera and when I heard Gran say ‘Erin’s here and she’s taking photos’ I laughed my head off inside, as much as it was apparent Gran was starting to lose aspects of ‘Gran’ she still knew!! Boy did she still know!!!
‘Washing clothes days’ meant the contents of the sideboard were put on her settees – Otherwise they’d shake and fall down – She moved all her photos everytime she did the washing and I often wonder why she didn’t just move the sideboard away from the wall… Maybe the washer shook the whole wall!?
I used to love speaking with Gran about her past – In these three images she’s telling me about a pantomime she went to as a little girl in Sheffield – It was Christmas and her Grandad had got her tickets – She was telling me how she was sat near the very front and could see the orchestra playing underneath the stage.
September 17th 2016
Gran’s decline wasn’t helped (and perhaps sped to the point of acceleration) by the fact she developed cellulitis in her leg. I truly believe that because her leg affected her ability to move she became prisoner to the condition, no longer going on her Tuesday shopping trips, getting out and about and though I never heard her once complain, it was apparent it was getting her down.
She did manage an outing on September 17th when Mum and Dad remarried – A wonderful day in Skipton then to the Tennant Arms in Kilnsey, the beer garden flooded in sunlight and a enjoyable day / evening had by all – This was the last time I saw Gran walking unaided by herself, I could have a conversation with her and she responded just as she normally would.
October 26th 2016
40 days later.
I don’t really need to explain how quickly the disease took her – Photographs really do say it all… Gran became weak, confused, spoke in French some days, spoke nonsense other days, was comforted by soft material, teddies. Over the last couple of weeks she lost more and more weight – ‘Her arms aren’t thick anymore’ Grace told Archie after we’d been to visit her Thursday last week.
What she did have until the very end was a wonderful sense of humour, it took her fast but it also saved us from being witness to the terrible parts for too long. She always knew who I was when I went to visit, always greeted me with a smile and we always parted company with a kiss on the forehead and a stroke of her hair.
At 3.30am today I gave her the last kiss on her forehead I’ll give, she died at approx 2am, her skin still warm and her hair smelling of Elnett hairspray.
Gran, you were THE best Gran and Great Gran ever and you will be so very missed.
Goodnight, God Bless & ‘a bottom smack’