family feminism Wales

Nana Ruth is my hero

July 1, 2019

This is my nana Ruth. She’ll be 100 in August. I remember childhood days of tearing around Wepre woods & returning exhausted to salads of tinned salmon with a splash of vinegar & custard slices for afters from the bakers at the bottom of the street. My nana is the thrift queen, never buying new clothes, never missing a charity shop bargain; an environmentalist before they were invented (she’d still deny she is one) she puts cheese on a plate with a cloche, plastic & foil are washed & endlessly reused; she freezes all her leftovers to eat another day, & lightly poaches fruit salads so they last. My nana travelled solo on cruises around Europe, & took solo coach trips across America, all since turning 70. She’s witnessed the motorcar explode across the globe & still gets the bus everywhere. Born straight after the First World War she also survived the second, but living in a time where she was expected to give up a job she loved to get married & have kids is a regret of hers. She’s a practical woman who doesn’t do big displays of affection; her reply to ‘I love you nana’ is ‘that’s nice dear’ but when she went into hospital last year people tracked me down online to ask after her. My nana still gets more Christmas cards than any other person I know. She lived in the same house for 60 years & has only recently taken an assisted living apartment (which is amazing – all care homes should be replaced by these). She’s had the same phone number all my life – it’s the only one I remember by heart from the days before mobile phones. At 99 she does killer crosswords, beats me at mental arithmetic (such as yesterday when I was working out the amount of fabric needed to make some new van curtains) & she can sew a mean tapestry. She lives on the first floor & always takes the stairs – never needs a walking cane. She refuses any offers to get her shopping with a ‘what will I do if you do everything for me?’ She loves food as much as I do & most importantly, when sat next to someone talking nonsense she’ll quite happily remove her hearing aids 😂. My nana Ruth is my hero, my idol & my inspiration, & I feel a deep gratitude I’ve had so many years to truly get to know her.

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