My Nanna, official title for a Great Grandmother in our family, is always in my mind around my birthday, since her birthday was the day after mine and her age was always easy to know as a kid since she was always 70 years (minus 1 day) older than me. So I thought she was deserving of a blog post to celebrate her birth on this day 117 years ago 20th April 1899.
For fun I did a little Google and have now started a 14 day free trial at ancestry.co.uk in order to download the family record shown at the top of this post. Bloody technology is great isn’t it.
As a kid I always found it incredible she was born in the previous century so as we march onwards well into the 21st century this seems even more special. Born before the two world wars into a very different England there are dozens of questions the 47 year old me wished he had asked but never did, so all I can write about is my experience of her.
As kids we regularly visited Nanna in her flat in Salford, hindsight tells me the area was as rough as it gets but I guess they were different times. Things I remember from those visits would include being taken along to see Mrs Foley who was even older than Nanna, the lethally steep staircase in the flat up to the toilet and nicking sheets of the high quality tracing paper she kept next to the toilet.
Nanna joined us for Sunday dinner every other weekend and it was thinking of that regular contact with her generation that prompted me to suggest our monthly Sunday Dinner Club described in another blog post.
Fast forward to the early 1980’s and Nanna moved to Wyndham Avenue in Swinton which must have been a huge relief for her and the rest of the family. The flats in Salford were later demolished and I think the area is still undeveloped but will probably become a retail park like everywhere else these days. I remember the collective effort from us all to re-decorate the new flat before she moved in, a true family joint effort with everyone mucking in.
As the oldest of her 4 great grandchildren I was probably the lucky one over the mid-late 1980’s to spend time with her while she was relatively fit and well. Her new flat was on my paper round so I was delivering her newspaper and that of her neighbours most days and would have the chance to say hello. Once I was driving and studying at 6th form college I maintained regular visits by dropping round on Wednesday afternoon’s for a bite to eat which was never a chore and always entertaining. I remember trying to add up numbers as quick as she could when she was working out how much she owed my Gran to pay for her shopping, she was always quicker.
When I left for University in 1987 in my little mini it was unthinkable not to pop in and say goodbye to Nanna as the last thing I did in Swinton before getting on the motorway. She later joined my Grandparents following me up to Morecambe while studying at Lancaster so I continued to stay in touch as her health and general well being declined before she passed away aged 90, in Lancaster in 1989 while I was working in Bedford.
So Happy Birthday Nanna, you will forever be sandwiched between my birthday and that of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. Wishing the Queen a Happy 90th Birthday for tomorrow seems entirely appropriate.