Catherine and Grandma
Well my object is a fan that I inherited from my Grandma, my Grandma Kay and it’s really, yeah, it’s very delicate and very like, thin and beautifully made, really hand crafted.
There was a couple of them in my Nan’s house and I remember always being really like, "My God, they’re so beautiful. Like so pretty." when I was younger.
It’s kind of two sides of the same coin; I break things a lot, so I broke it, which is a bit awful. And it kind of reminds me a bit of like you know - I don’t know where it’s from, I sort of assume where it’s from, but that always makes me quite stressed. Because my grandma travelled all over the world, and so did my Mum and all my Mum’s siblings and my grandfather, and I never know where they were at any particular time and sometimes they tell stories. And I love the stories and I love what they say, but you never know how old they were or where they were. And then I just feel like there’s quite a disconnect with my Grandpa and Grandma and their generation. Because I can’t quite pin down where they were at any particular time, so I don’t really know . . . in a way I don’t know much about them as people. And it annoys me that I don’t know where the fan is from because I feel like maybe if I could pinpoint that, then that’s maybe like a starting place. Where I could like work backwards or like forwards or do something.
It’s quite like my Grandma cos she was very, very thin. Always very thin, always very frail and you know, she got more so the older she got.
Just like the fan.
I remember specifically her hands and I see my Mum’s hands now and they look like them. The skin is quite loose and very beautiful, like with all the veins and stuff that stand out, but just like a constant reminder of how old she was and and how frail she was, and the fan kind of reminds me of that aspect of her. She was very like sassy and funny as well, but very like thin and wistful in a way. She’s lovely.
And yeah, the older she got the worse the dementia got. I cut my hair very short and there was a few times, when I visited, that she didn’t know who I was. She didn’t know who my Mum was and that must have been really hard for my Mum. But I remember specifically one day going out into the the garden with her, me and my sister and my mum, and she sort of looked at me and smiled and asked who this young man was. And I was just there like, oh God . . . you know? She doesn’t even know, like honestly has no idea who I am. She thinks I’m a boy. And most of the time when I was younger you know, like that didn’t really bother me from other people. But this was someone that I loved and I knew very well. And she didn’t know even that I was a girl, let alone that I was her granddaughter. And that was . . . I just found it really hard to sort of keep being like, ”Ah Nan, Nan it’s me" and Mum would sort of go, "Oh it’s Catherine" Yeah, I remember very specifically driving with my mum away from the home after we went to visit, and I think that must have been like the second to last time I went to see her before she died, and my Mum being like, "Are you okay?" and me sort of being like, "Yeah, yeah I’m fine." but actually being quite . . . even angry with my grandma cos she didn’t know who I was. I know it’s not really her fault but at the same time I was sort of like, you know, she should know who I am in a weird way.
I’ve always been a little bit of an outsider, and like a bit different. And even within my own family I think I felt quite isolated, like I always felt that my cousins liked my sister best. That she was their favourite.
And I used to get up super, super early just cos I like the early mornings, not so much now but when I was younger, and my gran always used to be up really early as well. And we used to sit. She had a little kitchen table and we used to sit either side of the table. We used to have cornflakes in the morning and she always had sugar on her cornflakes and that’s something I picked up from her. And for the life of me I can’t remember anything that we talked about, but I just remember very specifically.
Mum and Dad raised me not believing in any sort of God. And then Gran died and it threw me into this thing of like, "Is there a God?" You know? I feel like when I say that, people go, "Ohh, ah you know you’re just scared. You don’t wanna think that someone’s just gone, you want to believe that they’re in heaven or whatever." But for me it was like completely earth shattering, because you know as I said, my Granddad was a missionary and I’m like, his faith in God was so strong that he’d travel across the world to spread that message to tiny little islands in the south pacific. To you know, places up in the mountains in India. And you know my Grandma went with him. And I’m just there like, I need to understand that faith to understand them. And yeah, it shook me a lot and I sort of went, actually no, I’m not an atheist anymore and I can’t identify that and I can’t you know, sit with my friends and joke about people being silly for believing in God, because actually half of my family believe in God and that’s not the way that I want to look at the world. Like really closed.
So now I identify as being agnostic cos I don’t want to assume anything. But that’s something that really changed my perspective on the world when Gran died . . . like maybe I’ve got to try and figure stuff out and understand why her belief in God was so strong.
I’ve got to understand, on some level, how this happened and how she felt. And why she thought that God existed and how she felt that presence in her life.