Douglas West

My Wee Granny


I can still picture her, my wee Granny, who was born, lived and died, in the lowlands of Scotland. Small in stature, barely five feet, but large of heart, she was one of three, a triplet, born into an already large family. My wee granny's maiden name was Jean Clark and I was named after her. I was very pleased because she became a rich part of my life.
Granny had a large family of her own, ten in number, and she lived to be 90.

In the fullest sense of the word she was a typical housewife, spending all her time raising her family and keeping house. Nevertheless she was a deeply contented person.
Sometimes I wonder what she would have thought of the Woman's Liberation Movement. Granny never felt trapped; therefore she had no need to be liberated.
When her children married they stayed in the same village, Douglas West, and raised their own families. With the passage of time she became a grandmother to 30 children.

Granny's place was the hub around which her children and grandchildren revolved. She was the gentle but strong force at the centre. Her special touch on my life enabled me to touch my own children. Bossiness was alien to her nature; she was gentle in word and deed. Granny was one of the humble people of the earth and a fine sense of her own worth. I was proud of her. She treated all her children with respect never placing one above the other.
I recall one of Granny's many habits which manifested itself on Fridays. Friday was Penny day, at various times of the day all her grandchildren put in their appearances to receive their pennies. I was taught not to ask for my penny but to wait until granny thought of it. I'd sit on a chair inside the door and try not to look to impatient, hoping she wouldn't take to long to remember. She'd go about her kitchen chores, stirring the fire, putting the kettle on to boil. Suddenly it dawned "Oh dearie me, I almost forgot your penny" My smile matched hers as she fumbled in her apron pocket for her purse. She glowed with the satisfaction of giving as she placed the coin into my waiting hand.
"Thanks, Granny" I almost yelled and ran out the house, heading for the sweetie shop.

When my parents left Scotland to come to America I was both glad and sad. I will never forget the morning we left. Granny was fussing around the breakfast table, serving the eggs she had bought specially. I tried to catch her eyes but she avoided my gaze.
The moment had come, we put on our coats and hats....granny's lips trembled and she started to cry... She was so brave. We knew we would never see her and grandfather again and they knew it too.

After an absence of 44 years, I went back to Scotland, we walked up the hills from Douglas to Douglas West, I knew every turn in the road. We arrived at the top and the village came into view. I was shocked! My heart sank. The village was empty. So empty!
Two elderly men said "I knew your father" "he was The Hostler"... I walked slowly from house to house seeking out familiar spots. I peopled the empty houses with people I had known...I knew where everyone of them had lived. The house I had lived in was shuttered, the door locked. I had come 3000 miles and the door was locked!
I felt ancient that day, like a part of history fading into the background. Sadness returned but this time, gladness was its partner. Now I felt glad that I had known such a happy time here and my wee granny had been such a part of it.

Jean C Schmidt

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Original story© Jean C Schmidt 2004
Layout, editing and additional material © Dave Sloan 2005, 2012, 2016
'tachras' and 'Winding Yarn' © Dave Sloan 2005, 2012, 2016

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