Can you imagine being 90?
I have enough problems getting my head around being in my 40’s let alone reaching the ripe old age of 90. This week my grandmother celebrates her 90th birthday. When I look at her I don’t see any major changes in her from when I was a kid. Ok, she may have a few more grey hairs (but who doesn’t) and she may even be a little slower on her feet, apart from that, her strong spirit still shines through and she’s the matriarch figure of our family.
As I wrote her birthday card this afternoon, I began to wonder about all the things that she would have seen; experienced and what major changes there have been over her 90 years.
Nan was born at the tail end of 1922, in the East End of London and has always been an East End girl. King George V was on the throne and World War I had only ended 4 years previously; by the time she had reached the tender age of 10, we had talking pictures (1927) and Alexander Fleming had discovered penicillin (1928).
The 1930’s brought the invention of; Nylons (1931), Radar for aircraft (Robert Watson-Watt – 1935). Edward VIII came to the throne in January 1936 and had abdicated by December of that year, due to his relationship with Mrs Simpson. Edward’s younger brother (George VI) was then crowned King of England (1937)and by 1939 World War II had broken out; Nan had only reached 17. How she coped with the outbreak of war at the age of 17 I’ll never know! I was only just getting my head around the fact that I was going to have to leave school and get a job by the time I reached 17! Nan on the other hand had already been out in the big wide world of work since she was 14.
1942 saw Nan fall in love and marry the man of her dreams. The back garden to their home had been converted into what I can only imagine was a mini farm of chickens, ducks, rabbits and grow your own veg, all to help the family cope with the wartime rationing. Grandad had been sent off to war to fight for ‘king and country’ and due to a climbing accident while on exercise resulting in him being laid up in hospital with a broken back, he became the only serving member of his platoon; the rest were killed on their next mission (God was certainly looking out for our family that day). Nan was not just having to cope with the fierce blitzing of London; she was trained to use anti aircraft guns, should the enemy get too close to British soil.
By the time 1945 arrived, Nan was just 23, World War II had ended and she had a bouncing baby boy, heading into the 1950’s brought her a daughter and life tried to gain some sort of normality.
I know the Kray Twins were running the East End of London in the 1950’s / 1960’s but how much of a berring that would of had on the family I couldn’t say. 1952 brought the 4th monarch to the English throne, Queen Elizabeth II and as the years passed by Nan grew older and wiser and the family changed, she would find by the late 60’s and the 1970’s she was not only a Mother, but a Grandmother as well.
To me, Nan was always the ‘no nonsense’ grandmother and when she said no; no one stepped out of place, don’t get me wrong Nan was a very loving and caring Grandmother but you always knew there was a strong side to her and no one would want to get on her wrong side, but whatever Nan did, she did it for her family and they always came first.
1994 brought the first of her Great Grandchildren and to date she has 7 with one due just before Christmas. Life wasn’t without its heartache, in 1998 my Grandad died and in 2001 we also lost my Uncle. I’m not sure when Nan had time to grieve; to me she was rushing around looking after everyone else.
So here we are in 2012, the world has changed, there are many new inventions; Mobile Phones, Home Computers & the Internet, we’ve put a man on the moon, significant people in history have been assassinated; JFK and Martin Luther King. We’ve even seen the change of a millennium, a women prime minister and a black president (USA) The voting age dropped to 18 from 21 and My Nan’s been around to see it all. So really there is only one thing left for me to say……..
HAPPY BIRTHDAY NAN, YOUR ONE IN A MILLION 🙂 XXXXX