Sunday, October 14, 2012


Rene Chaplin - 'My Little Granny'

My lovely little Granny,
So it seems you finally got your wish - one that you expressed with regularity - "I just want to go to sleep and not wake up".  In death, as in life, your wishes were not easily ignored!
I didn't get to say 'goodbye'; not officially anyway, although maybe it could be said that we said our real farewells just over a year ago.  Do you remember?  I came to stay for the weekend before you moved into Abbeyfields; we had dinner with Mum and Dad and then you and I went back to the quiet of Kimberley Gardens.  We sat in the kitchen, just the two of us, the old grandfather clock ticking away the minutes and then the hours as we sat and talked.  We talked about family, those living and those dead; We laughed about the antics of your great-grandchildren but mostly we talked about your wishes for the future; the things you wanted and of course, the things you didn't.  It was our last 'real' conversation I guess, for although we talked afterwards, in person and less so on the phone, that really was our last intimate discussion,
My very first memory of you is watching you walk up the steps of Kimberly Gardens with Granda Sid.  I was clutching a doll and the steps seemed too big for a small girl of three or four.  When we moved back from Keyna you were the sun and moon around which I orbited.  You made me feel safe (unless you were wielding that wooden spoon of course - but I could run faster than you!)and you told me repeatedly, even as an adult, how much you loved me.  My memories of you are so many, where to begin, but let me remind you of my favourites:
 Food:  For you, feeding people, family, was the way you showed your love, and something I like to think I've inherited.  I remember the cakes you made for me every birthday, with their intricate and beautiful icing cages that usually contained something that Granda had found in the old pit heap down the road; the meringues that found their way into family folklore and to every birthday party I ever had and let's talk about the sunday dinners!  All the family together, we'd put the dining table diagonally across the room to make way for everyone, especially as more grandchildren began arriving.  I see you now, in the kitchen, making your own mushy peas and giving Granda Sid his own bowl before lunch began, and what about your infamous yorkshire puddings! We'd fight over those towering piles of batter. You bought each grandchild their own teasets that you brought out whenever we went for tea.  Each year you made a batch of Christmas cakes, even sending one to me when I was at university.  Even now the smell of bacon transports me back to your kitchen after I'd had a sleepover; there you'd be, bent over the frying pan, spatula in hand, directing me out on a walk with Granda. 
You loved shopping almost as much as you liked to cook.  We had many trips out together and Fenwicks tearooms was almost always on the agenda. 'Meet me by the clock' you'd say and then off we'd go and it was always tea with cheese scones. Always. When I was old enough it was a cheeky glass of wine somewhere, and when the Champagne Bar in M&S opened, well, we began a completely new tradition!  Then the shopping began - and you knew how to do it in style.  You knew how to put an outfit together and accessorise it perfectly - you were always simply elegant and as a child I loved to lie on your bed as you got ready, watching you at your dressing table applying your makeup and finally your rings - these were always the last thing you put on.
When I had Tom and Martha, you loved them fiercely, although I seem to remember you giving me a certain amount of grief that I was pregnant!  When Martha was born, you didn't particularly like her name to begin with (you let me know in your own inimitable style), but a few days later it was as if you'd invented the name yourself!  I loved to watch you with your great-grandchildren, your love, patience and obvious pleasure in them made me so happy.  One of my very favourite memories involves a family day out; we were off to the coast and you were in the front seat of my car, children in the back.  We were listening to a CD when an Andy Williams song came on "you're just too good to be true" and you and I began to sing along.  You sang so loudly and with such pleasure, turning to Tom to sing to him the line "I love you baby...". 
You were not afraid of death.  I know this from our conversations. I know that you will now be enjoying a rather large 'welcome home' party, wherever that may be.  As for me, there is a huge crater- like hole where you used to preside over my life; but, I take with me, the joy and love that I had for you, and you for me, and that is more love than I could ever have imagined...
“I am standing upon the seashore.
A ship at my side spreads her white
sails to the morning breeze and starts
for the blue ocean.

She is an object of beauty and strength.
I stand and watch her until at length
she hangs like a speck of white cloud
just where the sea and sky come
to mingle with each other.

Then, someone at my side says;
"There, she is gone!"

"Gone where?"
Gone from my sight. That is all.
She is just as large in mast and hull
and spar as she was when she left my side
and she is just as able to bear her
load of living freight to her destined port.
Her diminished size is in me, not in her.

And just at the moment when someone
at my side says, "There, she is gone!"
There are other eyes watching her coming,
and other voices ready to take up the glad
"Here she comes!"
And that is dying.
                                                               Henry Van Dyke
Rene Chaplin 1920-2012


  1. Lovely, Emotional and tearful ... May her spirit wander free and happy x

    1. Beautiful thoughts for an inspirational lady.

  2. Oh Sarah, What a beautiful personal send off. She knows how much you loved her... and she'll be still looking out for you and your children (just from above)..

    Much love. Tina x