Big Nan

Big Nan

My grandmother passed away at the beginning of this year leaving us all heartbroken. She meant such a lot to me and I am very sad that she’s gone.

I was asked to say a few words at her funeral, which I would like to share with you here.

Big Nan

We called her Big Nan. Not because she was especially large, but because she was taller than our other Nan. We call her Little Nan. Growing up, I got the impression that Nan wasn’t overly keen on being “the big one”, but she accepted the name – without too much complaint – until our own children were born… when she then affectionately became known as Great Big Nan.

And, she was great. She was the greatest.

When we were young girls, my sister and I used to love having sleepovers with Nan and Grandad. Of course, this had absolutely nothing to do with the enormous ice-cream portions that Grandad allowed us to have, the hot buttered toast on thick white bread for breakfast, crinkle cut chips for our tea or Big Nan’s wardrobe that doubled up as our personal dressing-up box.

There were different rules at Nan and Grandad’s house. Actually, there were NO rules at Nan and Grandad’s house! Nan would let us play in her wedding dress, paint our toes with her favourite nail polish, and sip pretend pink champagne from her special babycham glasses. She was fun, caring, patient, and always looked pleased to see us. She would open the door with her arms outstretched and a smile that was just as wide.

Above all, she was kind. She was always kind.

Like many grandmothers, she was at her happiest when she was feeding us, and as we grew older this didn’t change. Even as an adult, she was always offering us biscuits, sandwiches or vegetables from her garden, but as much as we appreciated her carefully tended vegetable patch, it did not produce the prettiest of vegetables! My brother, Jack, has very fond memories growing up of being made to eat Nan’s ‘ugly’ carrots!

She also loved to make jam – way too much for her and Grandad to ever get through – so every time she visited us she would bring a big stash of homemade jam with her and if there’s one thing I love more than jam it’s… well, most things actually but, I never had the heart to tell her and so I just kept on taking the jars and stacking them in the cupboard until I met my husband, and he loved it!

I have so many happy memories of my Nan and Grandad and feel incredibly lucky to have had them both in my life for so long; to have been able to sit with them on my wedding day, and introduce them to their first great-grandson is a privilege I will be eternally thankful for.

To say they spoiled us rotten would be an understatement. They adored us and I think I speak for all of Nan’s grandchildren when I say that the love we received from them both will live on in our hearts and minds forever.

Towards the end, when I suspected Nan no longer remembered the enormous ice-cream portions or the sleepovers that had formed such a huge part of my childhood, I like to believe the bond was still there. She still always looked so happy to see us!

The last time I saw Nan was in the hospital just a week or so before she passed away. Angie and I sat by her bed and held her hand. We gave her a couple of Christmas presents – just some soaps and biscuits – and she mimicked eating the biscuits in the same way you do when you are invited to a child’s teddy bear picnic. To her, we were still the little girls she used to have endless imaginary tea parties with, and to us she was simply being who she had always been; our wonderful, playful, great, Big Nan.

Poem by Henry Van Dyke 

Time is too slow for those who wait,
Too swift for those who fear,
Too long for those who grieve,
Too short for those who rejoice,
But for those who love, time is


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