I was in the process of writing yet another post based on my boobs when I got a call that my cousin had succumbed to pneumonia this afternoon. She turned 89 a few weeks ago and she was a good friend of mine. I don’t buy the ‘she had a good innings’ line although it has an element of truth and I used it myself a few weeks ago when we nearly lost her the first time. She may have been old but she was still a girl inside, still capable of laughing at fart jokes and swearing at her doctor and having conversations that rambled everywhere because there are so many things of interest to talk about. She was a proper intellectual and the sort of botanist who would climb Snowdon in the rain to see a rare grass. She constantly surprised me, was endlessly good company and was never shy of dismissing something as rubbish if it patently was. I’m going to miss her a lot.
My Gran is 99 and hoping to make her 100th birthday in February and two days ago she fell and broke her hip. She’s recovering in hospital now but she’s in pain and I guess nothing is certain when you’re 99. She’s one wonderful woman, I get my picky fingers and love of textiles from her. She taught me to weave and when her shoulder finally gave out, gave me her loom on which I am a faltering learner. She also taught me how to play cards but didn’t pass one enough of her skill to make me rich at poker, unfortunately, however she did pass on her prodigious ability to absorb gin, not to mention her boobs which, when she saw them sprouting on my 15-year-old-frame she immediately recommended I reduce via surgery. It was she who taught me about structural architecture as it relates to the female form, not least by displaying some of the most unbelievable pieces of 1950s engineering nestled in her top drawer which I would give my eye-teeth to own these days. When she was 76 I stayed with her for a week and we stayed up late playing cards and drinking and skinny-dipping at midnight. I’d like to see her but for now I have to wait to see if she’s going to hold up.
I once had a vision of myself at 80, living happily somewhere wild and vaguely cut off. It’s stayed with me and maybe that’s why I get along so well with women who've got a few decades on me, I guess I’ve always assumed I’m going to be one, one day. I’m lucky, I know a few and I’ve known them well and I get to spend good time with them, if not always enough of it. I’ve picked up some pretty good tips and I’ve been able to introduce the spud to them all so that one day when the time comes he'll know enough to be nice to his own old lady.
Here’s to Liz, I’m glad I got to tell her I love her, I’m proud to have known her. She’s leaving a big hole. Here’s to all our elders and betters, let’s hope we can live up to them.