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EmilyGransnet (GNHQ) Wed 08-Oct-14 17:56:26

Tea and memories: One grandmother's importance

Tea and cake. Family secrets. Dating wisdom. Parental refereeing. Rachel Hore reminisces about all of the wonderful times she shared with her grandmother as a young girl and reflects on just how big of an impact she made on her life growing up.

Rachel Hore

Author of 'A Week in Paris' published by Simon & Schuster on 9 October.

Posted on: Wed 08-Oct-14 17:56:26


Lead photo

Rachel Hore

My novels are about suppressed memories and buried secrets within families, and as a writer I find it endlessly fascinating what people conceal from their nearest and dearest and why, and the effect silence can have on subsequent generations. In this realm grandparents have a useful role.

Although my grandma (my mother’s mother) died when I was in my early twenties, I mourn her still. I loved her for herself, but also as a source of stories about our family. Sometimes I would visit her on my way home from school and we would drink milky tea and eat fondant fancy cakes whilst she reminisced about bringing up my mother and her twin sister during the war or the chequered lives of her own brothers and sisters - mostly long gone, for she’d been the youngest. Through her I felt I came to know them, these elegant Edwardians with their unsuitable marriages and their exotic sojourns in the Colonies. I learned about the stillborn eldest boy and the consequently over-doted-on second, the conniving fiancée of a third, Grandma’s closeness to her childless sister.

During my teens I listened to advice from my grandma that I'd certainly never have accepted from my mother.

She also told me about family members I knew well – often with flavoursome commentary. She was very fond of my father, she told me, but had initially thought him too charming! And his mother, my other grandmother, had neglected him in favour of his brother. Sometimes I would have my own view on a matter and would argue back. All this enable me to regard my parents in the round. It helped somehow to know that my father had once been a very small, reserved boy, whose feelings had been crushed, that my mother had been a mischievous tomboy. They’d endured the deprivations of a World War, and had each carved out a career in circumstances of considerable difficulty. They weren’t just parents, and they certainly weren’t infallible! I came to understand them much better.

During my teens I listened to advice from my grandma that I’d certainly never have accepted from my mother. My grandparents’ house was my bolthole. They were always pleased to see me and always had time. I should learn not to lose my temper with my mother, Grandma told me, generously blaming it on my red hair. Our family was always good at maths, she said firmly once, which, perhaps irrationally, gave me confidence in the subject. Some advice I ignored, such as not to go out with a Catholic! I would spurn the jumble sale clothes she brought out with a victorious flourish, and declined to read ‘The Power of Positive Thinking’, which she gave me hoping to transform my teenage moodiness.

She did it all out of love, though - I knew that and loved her for it. One day I hope I’ll be a grandmother and that I’ll find a role my grandchildren value as she did.

By Rachel Hore

Twitter: @rachelhore

TheMillersTale Mon 13-Oct-14 19:50:26

All my good memories are from my grandparents. They gave my life rhythm and a dependable structure. I willingly accepted and acceded to their boundaries- in fact I welcomed them because it was so very obvious that they had my best interests at heart. Everything they did was from a place of love. I could not say the same for my parents. I have written about this here because a lot of those rhythms centred upon food and the kitchen.

tanith Mon 13-Oct-14 21:30:34

Sadly I lost all my grandparents before I was 9 I really only have fleeting memories of them as we didn't see them often when I was small..

I've tried to make an impact on all of my own grandchildren, be there for them whenever and wherever they have needed me. I hope they remember me with such love and affection.

jinglbellsfrocks Mon 13-Oct-14 21:53:17

Oh! That cake on that blog sounds gorgeous.

Sodding diet. hmm

jinglbellsfrocks Mon 13-Oct-14 21:53:56

(that's TheMillersTale blog)

Iam64 Tue 14-Oct-14 08:43:07

I was lucky tanith, and had all 4 grandparents until I was 13, when my maternal gran died. As children, we were secure in the knowledge that all 4 grandparents loved us, doted on us is probably nearer the truth. One gran bought new shoes, the other a coat, they shared the cost of our whitsunday frocks and always, always made sure we had a special gift at Christmas.
I've always loved my grandparents. I dot think I realised until relatively recently, quite how much they influenced me.

TheMillersTale Tue 14-Oct-14 08:55:18

Thank you Jingl. It is and lethal to diets sad

Iam- I imagine that realisation is rather a lovely one. I adored my grandfather especially and nursing him until his death (and beyond- I performed last offices too) was the greatest honour and privilege of my life.

hildajenniJ Tue 14-Oct-14 09:51:49

I was very luck to have all my grandparents until my teenage years. My Nana (mum's mum) died when I was 16, sadly she suffered from dementia during the last few years of her life, and my Grandad looked after her with the help of his daughters. He wouldn't hear of her going into care.
My Granny used to say that when a woman reaches a certain age, she needs a bit of weight about her, so Jingl have a slice of cake!