Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Sto lat!

On 29 November, 1909, my Granny was born in a small mining town in North Wales.
One hundred years ago and an entirely different universe, she was fourth in a family of six: four sisters and a brother. Their mother died while she was still a child and their father was injured in a mining accident and left unable to work. The two littlest girls were fostered by other families in the village while the others stayed behind and were looked after by the eldest daughter, a slight thirteen-year old.
Her childhood was spent in a culture wholly different to that of my own: milk was a precious commodity, English was a foreign language learnt at school and leeks were pinned to fronts on St David's Day*.
At the age of fifteen, after finishing school, my grandmother and one of her elder sisters moved to the foreign lands of darkest Tunbridge Wells to go into service at a maternity hospital.
(Several years ago, after I ran away - desperately unhappy - from an awful summer job working as a live-in barmaid at an Italian hotel, she looked at me knowingly: I knew you wouldn't like it, she said, it's hard, I know that. I was twenty-one though and it was only a summer job.)

It's hard to imagine one hundred years: as a young girl growing up in Wales, could she ever have dreamed up television, aeroplanes, the internet, whole symphony orchestras stored on a pen drive and instant communication with family living halfway across the globe? Of miraculous drugs that might have saved her mother, her husband? What if I live to be one hundred? What unimaginable wonders will humanity have produced by then? How fast will the time fly by?

Happy birthday Granny (for yesterday) - here's to the next one.

*Although I suspect that she may be having us on about this one.


inda said...

Wow!!! I also wish a Happy Birthday to her!

pinolona said...

Thanks on her behalf! She'll appreciate it :)

hotmamamia said...

Oh my yes...should I say blessings to her (even though I don't count them myself!)?? What the heck...Bless you Granny and I do hope you can enjoy the time you have on this great Earth! Here is to 101!

Michael Dembinski said...

You owe it to the future to capture as many of her memories as possible.

Blaunau Ffestiniog?

pinolona said...

Hotmamamia, thanks again, on Granny's behalf :)
Michael: we we used to record her when we were younger (usually for school 'aural history' projects) so Mum has tapes of her talking about her childhood somewhere at home. It's not really practical now because she's very deaf and - while she's still mentally fine - she tends to mix things up a bit.