I was listening to Smooth FM on the radio yesterday (I know, cool right?)
Anyway, a song came on that immediately reminded me of my Dad and the urge to call him was so strong, that I did. The conversation went something like this –
Dad “Hello. To what do I owe this pleasure?”
Me “Well, I was just listening to ‘Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Old Oak Tree’ on the radio and it reminded me of you, so I thought I’d call to say hello.”
Dad “Why on earth did that remind you of me? I’m not out in Afghanistan at war, or in prison somewhere. I’m in Borehamwood….”
Me “I remember you playing it when I was little”
Anyway, we had a nice conversation and when I hung up I got to thinking. What makes certain things remind you of people? I know it’s our memories – but I have lots of lovely memories of things I did with my Dad and I often hear or see things that remind me of those things. They don’t normally cause me to need to speak to him like this song did though.
So I took to thinking about relatives who are no longer with us and the things that reminds me of them. My nan on my mothers side I have lots of lovely memories of. Making cakes, being at the seaside, lots and lots of things. But the one thing that reminds me of her the most is the smell of household bleach. Why? Well, when I was little my nan smoked Woodbines. Now people who smoked then will know that these were cigarettes without a filter tip, so as my nan was smoking the nicotine gradually turned her fingertips orange. To combat this she would sit with her fingers in little pots of Domestos. Of all the things that could remind me of my nan, this is the one that does it for me. I’m not sure why. It certainly isn’t the nicest memory I have of her, and she died of lung cancer so smoking should be the last thing I want to remember about her. Or maybe that’s exactly why the smell of bleach does it……
My nan on my fathers side died when I was much younger, so my memories are more faint and distant. Sometimes when I remember her it’s upsetting. She had senile dementia and we shared a bedroom and when I let my mind wander I can often find myself back in the bedroom at night, with my nan crying and calling my name for help to get to the toilet. Young carers weren’t recognised then. It was just a case of families doing their best to cope with relatives who were unwell. Anyway, the thing that most reminds me of my nan is the queens image on a stamp. With emails, texts etc., I don’t use them often, but my nan was the spitting image of the queen in that picture. She was the same build as the Queen, had her hair in the same style, wore twin sets or a dress and cardi, court shoes, and was never without a handbag on her arm. Even when she got sick she always carried her handbag.
My dads dad died when he was young, so I only remember my grandfather on my mums side. He was welsh and a very direct man. He was always smartly dressed. I adored my grandad. I teased him, he teased me. I remember chanting ‘Maggie, Maggie, Maggie, out, out, out.’ when he was adamant the Conservatives should get in again. As I got older I would join him and my nan at the pub, me not drinking so I could drop them home. One evening when my nan was a little worse for wear on one too many G&Ts, she fell into the bath when we got back to their little bungalow. She was hollering for help and when we got through to her I was astonished that she hadn’t killed herself. Her head was wedged between the wall and the tap and it was a hilarious sight, with her bum in the bath and her legs over the side. I couldn’t help her for laughing, she was still shouting like a fishwife for help, when my grandad said “Be quiet! Remember the neighbours!” to which my nan said “Fuck the neighbours! Help me out!!!” I eventually stopped laughing enough to get her out and into bed, but my grandad was furious with her for making such a fuss. He didn’t like fuss. I’m wandering now. The thing that brings back memories of my grandad is the song Perfect by Fairground Attraction. It was on the jukebox of their local pub and I always put it on when I went there with them.
I wonder what will remind my children and grandchildren of me? Will it be cake making, holidays, cuddles? Or will it be something silly, like my Domestos bleach memory?
What do you think will remind your children and grandchildren of you?