David Moseley

Grannies are great

2014-07-30 09:36

David Moseley

I was having dinner with my Gran last week when she told me about some charitable work she'd been up to.

Along with "the girls" (women I might also refer to as grans, but who my gran sees as youthful sprites) she'd knitted some socks, gloves and beanies to donate to a frail-care centre in Cape Town.

As my Gran tells it, the home is well run with pleasant staff, but the people who live there rarely receive visitors. Their families, she says, are too busy to visit regularly. "You should see the faces of the old people when we arrive; they just light up."

Two things occurred to me after hearing my gran's story. One, I hope when I'm my Gran's age, an energetic 79, I still have the cheek to call other people old; and two, I hope that I'm never too busy to spend time with my Gran. In fact, I can't imagine a life without her.

When I returned to Cape Town after finishing university in Grahamstown I moved in with my gran and back into the old "grandchildren's bedroom" that my brother and I had shared with our cousins over the years.

As a young, aspiring sports journalist, trying to prove myself in a macho environment of entrenched beer boeps, it wasn't quite my idea of a hip, manly digs. After amusing impressionable young ladies with my wit and charm I could hardly bring them back to the 'burbs and into my home that had a Spider-Man duvet on the bed and a granny snoozing in the lounge.

On the few occasions that I did try sneaking in a guest, quietly sliding a key into the security gate before slowly opening the squeaky front door which for some reason was never oiled, Granny was always "just getting up for a glass of water" or "just walking to her bedroom after watching a movie".

No matter the time of night (or more commonly, early morning), Granny was always "just up to something at a conveniently odd hour".

Having spent three years freewheeling around Grahamstown it was something of an adjustment having to tell my Gran my every move (if I didn't, I would get phone calls at midnight asking what time I was coming home).

At breakfast I was asked what I wanted for dinner. "Granny, let me have my toast first," I would plead.

At dinner, almost always served five minutes after I'd walked in the front door at 5pm, we’d catch up on the day’s happenings. Eventually I would realise that all the chitchat was coming from me and that Granny had dozed off in the middle of our conversation. "Granny!" I would shout, just to see if she was still alive; and also to give her a fright. I'm that kind of grandson.

Later, Granny Cordiner, my great gran and Granny's mom (or as they say in their Scottish tongue, mum) moved in. A recipe for a sitcom if ever there was one; Two Old Bats and a Struggling, Sexually Frustrated Journalist could be massive on SABC 1.

Granny Cordiner, being a mother, enjoyed telling Granny, now a lowly daughter again, how bland her cooking was. “Needs some salt, Merry,” she’d mutter while pouring the equivalent of a dry Dead Sea over her mash.

We often had to prize the salt shaker from Granny Cordiner's hands, so convinced was she that granny's cooking needed "just a bit more salt".

When tasting homemade mince pies one morning (the Christmas kind), Granny Cordiner chewed suspiciously for some time before declaring (again, in her thick Scottish accent, also why Mary comes out as “Merry”), "they're no as good as m'a mince pies, Merry."

Now every Christmas, when Granny's brave enough to make mince pies, I just have to tell her (in my dear, departed great gran's accent, "that your pies are no as good as Granny Cordiner's mince pies."

I may have spent 21 years with my Gran before moving in with her, but that was just as a grandson treating her as a run-of-the-mill granny.

After living with her for two years she’s now Granny - drinking buddy, host of knock-out tequila parties, fan of Rocket, family historian and, most importantly, friend I couldn’t do without.

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