Saturday, 13 June 2015
The chamber pot and the truncheon
For the last part of her life, Granny lived alone. Under her bed, there were two items: a truncheon and a chamber pot. The truncheon was for fighting off intruders, and the chamber pot was...a chamber pot (though while she used it I will never know, since the loo was a mere couple of yards from her bedroom).
At the time, I found this quite endearing; even amusing. Now, I think: how sad. Here was this overweight 87-year-old, lonely, quite incapable of wielding a truncheon, but having it there anyway to "protect" her; a triumph of optimisim over reality. She had never lived on her own before widowhood struck, and now she lived for the letters of which her busy, thoughtless family didn't send nearly enough. And our visits.
She used to take me for walks along the sea front to get "sea air", clutching me in one hand and holding onto her hat with the other, while winds lashed the hotel fronts and sensible people stayed indoors. She always burnt toast (to this day, the smell of burnt toast still reminds me of Granny). She read me old-fashioned moral tales; The cuckoo Clock, a Peep Behind the Scenes. Later on, I read her the novels of Jane Austen.
She died a few months after being knocked over by a car, having walked the mile to the shops in the pouring rain. She had never been in hospital in her life, and she was terrified.
I did what I could, but I wish I had understood then what I do now. But sadly, it's too late.