The Grandmother I never met was red-haired
and fiery. They say she was feminine and sexy,
yet could swear like a trooper when sufficiently roused.
It is rumoured she was a Witch
because her outhouses were filled with bunches
of drying medicinal herbs, and she often conversed
with the 'dead' (I suppose that's where I get it from!).
Her house was set into a Surrey hillside,
with a wilderness of a garden that must have been paradise
to the wildlife she called her familiars.
I believe she played up the 'Witch' thing
to discourage trespassers - she was, after all,
an increasingly private person in her twilight years.
She played whist with her brothers - and always beat them,
and drank stout from the bottle, and ran
a laundry for the idle rich who considered
such everyday chores beneath them.
During the Great War she held weekly seances
for those who had lost someone - her vocation,
she claimed, was to bring comfort wherever she could.
She knitted socks and blankets for the Tommies
at the Front, and cursed the "Mass-murdering World Leaders."
Tripe and onions (yuk) and jam roly-poly
were her favourite foods, and she always smelled
of vanilla and lavender water.
She was strict with her four children -
over strict compared to today's standards - she never
spared Grandfather's belt for the slightest misdemeanour.
Well, with a husband in France and the ever-present
possibility that he may never return,
I suppose she considered it her responsibility
to instill self-discipline and respect into her brood
in order to prevent them from roaming the streets like savages
as so many others did.
But still they idolised her - especially the youngest,
I know I would have too.
Oh if only she hadn't passed away before I was born.
She was such a brave and spirited woman,
one I could have learnt so much from.
And I am incredibly proud in the knowledge
that her genes live on in me...