She was a tough woman, a survivor. I’ve heard one of her sons saying once that she was « the man of the family when there was none ». There was some truth in that. She was a provider. She had mothered three children. One of them was born prematurely and spent most of his life in prison. The youngest one, who nearly killed her at birth because he stubbornly wouldn’t come out, turned out to be a very successful self-made man. And her first born daughter, who nearly died from addiction to alcohol was my Mum.
Don’t ask me why, she had named both her sons Robert. That doesn’t make much sense, does it ? Consequently, the youngest Bob has always been named : the little one. Although she’s always loved my Mum dearly, she never really payed attention to me. She had other grandchildren to look after and we always failed to make THE connection.
First time she gifted me with something, I fucked up. She offered me some toileteries bag for children with plastic bottles looking just like real ones. I took it very seriously and poured some nail polish remover into one of them. Guess what happened ? It dissolved, destroyed the toiletries bag and caused a major incident in the house. I heard my Mum and Grandmother arguing loudly. My Mum was saying : « she’s just a kid, she didn’t do it on purpose ». Hey, why would I do that anyway ? But her eyes were like two loaded guns as she left the house.
Hadden’t heard much of her in years when suddenly she decided to take me on a seaside holiday with her. I must have been around six and I was seriously swimming in the national championship. That tells you how much I loved the company of water. Initially, I thought it was a cool idea to go with her. And so we went to the seaside for a few days starting with a long, so very long train journey. My impatience was building up to feel and breathe the sea. She, on her side was longing for a good cup of coffee and a pancake.
When we finally arrived I was nagging her to have a look at the beach but she lured me into some coffee place. I must have done her head in really badly as she accepted to let me go have a look providing I would be back immediately. I promised her to do so and started to walk up. And suddenly, it all appeared before my eyes : this wonderful beach on a hot summer day with this lovely sea. It simply drove me mad not to be able to go and play in the waves. So I went…
Five minutes, I thought to myself. initially, I just walked in the water but soon the appeal got too strong. I removed my clothes like children do, I put it up safely on some wooden brakewater and I just dove in the sea. Now, it was great fun and time stood still. At some stage though, I felt guilty and started to walk back. But I was only six years old and I had never heard of… tides. Tides indeed ! Going up and making you drift away ! Not just that but wiping your clothes away too.
I looked at the beach and everything had changed. I got terribly scared and ran in different directions. I finally got stopped by the beach rescue and they put a warm towel around me. The crazy thing was that they couldn’t locate my Grandmother. She must have been so scared she probably looked everywhere for me. The day went by, other children got picked up but still no sign of her. I heard them say they were shutting down soon and got worried again.
What they did was pretty cool though, they drove me to the police station and I ended up in the very office of the chief constable. The room was huge and overlooking the sea. Under other circumstances, I would have loved that. Plus the poor guy was doing his best to reassure me and play with me. But I was totally freaked out… Suddenly, after the longest of the longest wait, the door was slammed opened. All I could see was two firy eyes and a huge hand ready to hit me. I closed my eyes, waiting for the storm-like punishment. But instead I got the biggest hug I’ve ever had from a crying relieved Grandmother.
She never forgave me this though. The next day, she bought children plastic handcuffs. I spent the next few days tied up to my old woman. I don’t know what was worse : not being able to swim or walk freely or hearing her constant warnings. Needless to say, we never really hooked up together after this. She’s had a tough life, I’ve been living mine. She passed away a few years ago, we kinda made peace before she went. But I made myself the promise I would grow a different relationship with my future grand-children.
Warning : any resemblance to reality will be the result of pure chance or the product of your imagination