Nonfiction: Channelling Her Sparkle

I was blessed with the most incredible grandmother. Born in 1916, in the middle of World War I England, she grew up in an era of war and progress, transformation and rationing. And she lived in a world where working class people left school at the age of 14 to go out and work, regardless of their gender.

Throughout her life, she found employment in a variety of occupations and locations. She was a factory worker, a companion to an elderly woman, a shop steward, an office worker, a sales clerk, a nanny, and a beekeeper. She was also a mother and a wife, but even that was something she approached in an unconventional manner. When my grandfather proposed the first time, she turned him down. She didn’t feel that she had seen and done enough with her life and she wasn’t ready to settle down. At the age of 26 – a positive spinster in the early 1940s! – she finally agreed to marry him.

When I took the photograph at the top of this page she was 92 years old. I had a new camera and she was humouring me as I took pictures while we sat at the dinner table. In the picture preceding this one, she looks very regal and solemn – the kind of portrait I was going for. But then she said something funny under her breath, breaking my concentration. I laughed and fired back a witty retort, snapping this picture as we both dissolved into giggles. I loved when my grandmother laughed – her whole face came alive and the sparkle in her eyes made me wish I could have known her as a young woman. It’s no wonder my grandfather waited for her so patiently.

Mary GreenwoodShe passed away a year and a half ago, at the age of 96. I miss her every single day. This is how I remember her best. Full of life and laughter. Finding adventure in everything, whether it was on the other side of the globe or in the books on her bookshelf. We didn’t always see eye to eye, but I never questioned how much she loved me – and I hope she knew just how much I loved her.

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This is my submission for the WordPress Weekly Writing Challenge. This week the challenge asks us for a photo of someone (preferably ourselves or a loved one) looking truly happy – and then they want to know why: What’s going on in the photo? What are you (or they) thinking about at the exact moment?

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