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Today marks the 25th anniversary of my Grandma's death. Grandma Irene was my Mums mother. She was your typical British grandma. We used to bake cakes together (always butterfly cakes, you know, the fairy cakes with the tops cut off and cream on top and the top put back on to look like butterfly wings), she made coconut ice and fudge and chocolate covered mint crèmes. She loved Tetley tea, Ribena and always had mint humbugs in her handbag.

Grandma and Grandpa used to spend half of the year in England, where they were from and where their eldest daughter lived with her family, and the rest of the year was divided between Canada (where we used to live) and Florida (where my Uncle lives).For me, as a kid, this meant we got treats from both everywhere they went. From England, it was Ribena, banana milkshake, MacIntosh toffee, Starbursts and Smarties in a tube. From Florida, it was fresh citrus fruits.

I used to love sleeping over at Grandmas on a Saturday night. We used to always watch Hockey Night In Canada. I still hate hockey, but it meant I got to stay up really late to watch it! Grandma had a fold up cot bed that she used to put in her room for me to sleep on. That bed came to our house and was used for years after Grandma died. I loved it! I remember Grandpa used to make (BURN) a fry up for Sunday breakfast and we'd drink loads of sugary, milky tea and chat. Those were my favourite times as a child.

I never knew Grandma was ill. Mum never told us. It was cancer, I don't know where. I remember we went to her house for Sunday lunch and me thinking she didn't look right, but being 12, I assumed it was just a cold. I remember sitting with her, on the arm of her big comfy chair, like I always did. I remember coming home from school one day and my Mum telling us "Grandma died today" and not really realising what it meant or how devastated my Mum must have been. She and Grandma were always really close. And now, having lost MY Mum, around the same age she must have been, I wish I had hugged her more and told her I loved her. She must have been broken, like I was. I don't remember much else about the time between that day and the funeral. She was cremated and her ashes were placed in the cemetery right next to our house in Canada. I used to visit her there a lot. I spent hours talking to her there. We brought her ashes over here when we moved, so her she's with the family, as it should be.

Grandma was the first person I was close to that died. She was the heart of our family. She was kind, giving, sweet, cheeky, loving and just SO loveable. I miss her all the time, even 25 years later. I wonder if she'd be proud of me? I think of her and my Mum, sat up there on the biggest, fluffiest cloud you can see (that's what Mum used to tell me - Grandma is watching you from the biggest fluffiest cloud in the sky.) When Mum passed away, I told her to go sit with Grandma on the big fluffy cloud and watch over us.  When something good happens, I still want to phone her, like I used to. I can't remember her voice anymore, but whenever I hear a little old lady speak in a really Northern accent, I think of her. I can't remember how she used to smell, but radishes and butterfly cakes always remind me of her and make me smile. That's what she was like, smiley and Northern and lovely...


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