You may have spotted my Nan’s old Olympia typewriter featuring on posts recently.
My best memories of my grandparents ‘by the sea’ are of mealtime entertainment from the napkin people; keyboard antics on adding machines, pianos and typewriters; watching Nanny complete crosswords while Grandad rested his eyes; and I was convinced that my Nan was a special agent in another secret life.
As well as this, my Nan was the greatest correspondent I’ve ever known. She would write regularly to a vast list of people whom she had acquired as great friends over the years. If you were in my Nan’s address book, then you had a place there for life.
My Nan started my love of writing by sending old fashioned snail mail letters (I even got an award for correspondence whilst on a primary school residential trip!)
Her letter writing was legendary for many reasons, the first being the infamous colour of the stationery. The supply of trusty green envelopes lasted for decades, and they were easily distinguishable on my door mat, to the point when even my university house mates knew when a letter from my Nan had arrived. And she always helped me surpass the number of letters that any of my housemates received.
The second reason her letters were memorable was because of her incredibly illegible handwriting. I could read and understand what she had written in her letters if she typed them on her trusty typewriter (or if she was kind enough to use block capitals). But it was a real rite of passage, which required code breaking skills, when I began receiving letters in her unique scrawl. It looked like she’d written it in shorthand. It was just a combination of lines and dots randomly placed in a line. With (a lot of) practice over the years, I could at least get the gist of her letters.
Lastly, she always thoughtfully included newspaper articles and things that she knew would be of interest and use to me. She could’ve easily got a job as a press clippings collector! She wrote to me every week, so my letter box has certainly suffered from the decidedly decreased number of letters since her passing.
I loved hearing her typewriter clatter away when I visited. I loved playing on the typewriter myself as a child. I was so thrilled when I was allowed to actually type on it when I was younger. The feel of the keys and how much force was needed for them to strike; the wonderful carriage return; the actual lock button for caps lock; and the magical slider to change the colour used on the ribbon.
I was honoured to inherit my Nan’s typewriter (and her upright piano – but that’s another story) and it takes pride of place on a bookshelf in our living room.
Nanny was always so dedicated to everything that she put her mind to, and this has rubbed off on me. Her unfailing support, encouragement and pride were an inspiration. My achievements are surely a demonstration of this upbringing. I admired her intelligence, loyalty and devotion and still sorely miss her.
But her words on those green bits of paper live on in the lovely stack of letters that she sent to me.
Let me know if you need help putting into words your thoughts for those hard to write occasions – what better way to pay tribute to your loved ones than with a beautifully crafted eulogy.