Saturday, 18 September 2010

Why Grandmothers?

Perhaps because I find myself  for the first time in my life without a grandmother anywhere in my domestic space. The loss of Mum has taken my daughter's grandmother from us. 

My grandmother, Ganna,  and me
My own grandmother looked after me after my father died when I was seven. She was a jewel and much loved. She told me tales of George Penny, who routinely fell out of a little girl's pocket, to roll n the street and find an adventure. Then later, the most wonderful made up games where we jointly narrated a story together as though we had heard all from a third person and were actually part of the world in which this was taking place. Of course in the tales a young girl was for ever getting up to mischief! She was also gentle but utterly firm in her discipline, never raising her voice, but somehow ensuring one knew what the right way to behave was. She died in my 21st year.

My Mum and Jen
And now we have lost Mum, who gave my daughter her own tales of the imagination. Old 'Arry with his awful cough, the fish and chip shop. She too was a special soul, with such a vivid blue gaze that you always felt that her delight in seeing you was absolute. A very special gift.
Nanya - Alice Rowe, nee Atkins

Then of course there was Nanya, the Irish artist, my great grandmother whom I never knew. She would come in from her garden querying why "none of you girls" had made supper. She had been communing with the garden fairies I guess. Her paintings hang in my house, her sister forever poised wistfully at a spinet, Courtown Woods ringing to the sound of three little girls playing on the bridge.

So, I am feeling the loss of these women. And am aware that now I am the repository of family myth and culture. A condensed trickle of tales, edited by time and made warm with love.


  1. Well, I think you will do a great job in carrying on with the strong, female, storytelling, picture making tradition! Love your blog - wonderful words, superb photos, great stories and a lovely atmosphere - I am impressed and will be following avidly! xxxDot

  2. Thank you Dot - hope I can live up to it!