I can’t remember how long I slept on the air bed at my Grandma’s house.
I didn’t see too much of my mam while I was there because she worked as much as she could to get some money together to support us. She did odd jobs for different people, from cleaning to styling their hair. All the while looking out for something permanent that would put a roof over our heads and food on the table. My story continues in the early sixties.
This photo is how I remember 1961. Hairstyles changed and girls looked glamorous. I remember my mam and my Aunty Jeannie going to some fancy ball in dresses similar to this. They looked gorgeous.
Back to the story though…..
My Grandma kept me amused during the long summer of 1961. We sat on her front step a lot, talking to the neighbors, who were all elderly because they were ‘old people’s bungalows’.They loved having a four-year old around and spoiled me a little.
Gran and I went for walks along the fell and in lower Butterknowle. She told me stories about her younger days and some of the trouble she got into. It was funny thinking that my Grandma ever got into trouble, or was ever young. It was during one of these walks that I felt like we had company.
The sun was getting low in the sky and the shadows were long. I kept looking over my shoulder to see if someone was there. There was no one. I started looking around to see if there was a dog or fox following us. Still nothing.
‘Grandma do you think someone is following us?’ I asked.
My Grandma looked at me with her blue eyes, the bluest eyes I have ever seen and said “Its your granddad. He comes to keep me company every time I walk along here. That is why I come.”
“But Gran, he is in heaven isn’t he?”
“Most of the time, apart from when he comes and walks with me”
“Gran, why can’t I see him?” I asked
Gran didn’t reply. Instead she stopped and sat down on a low broken stone wall. I sat next to her and started talking.
“Hush, don’t talk, sit quiet” she told me, and I did.
It wasn’t completely dark yet, but almost. We were close to home, and in the distance I could see the lights from my grandma’s back kitchen, so I wasn’t scared about getting lost in the dark. I was hungry though. I was about to tell my grandma I was getting hungry. I opened my mouth to speak, but nothing came out, instead my mouth hung open as I looked at the man who had joined us. I didn’t see or hear him arrive, but he was sitting on the broken stone wall next to my Grandma. He looked about fifteen years younger than her. I felt like I was looking at fuzzy image in an old black and white photo. I knew it was my Granddad!
He didn’t speak. No-one did. He was with us for less than a minute and then he was gone, he just seemed to fade away!
“Come on hinny, let’s get home and get a bite to eat” my grandma said as she took my hand. I still couldn’t speak. I kept looking over my shoulder to see if my granddad was still there, but he had gone.
When we got back to my Grandma’s house it was dark so the street light was a welcome sight. Gran looked down at me as we walked along her garden path.
“Did you enjoy your walk?” she asked with a mischievous smile on her face.
“Yes Grandma, I did”
We never walked that way again, and I never to got to see my granddad again, but I will always remember him.
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