We lost my Nan 10 years ago in November. It was a blow to the family, but not totally unexpected. She had been battling Breast Cancer for the whole year before and at more than 80 years of age, the cure in my opinion probably took it’s toll on her.
6 weeks before, she had been the life and soul at my Sister’s wedding, so we have very lovely memories of her right up to the last.
Her Funeral was actually a very lovely one. Each generation of her family was represented doing the readings, and my Cousin Nigel, the eldest Grandson, made us all giggle with stories that we all recognised and remembered. Another cousin had made a Family Tree and had it up on the wall of the Hall, with photos and a big picture of Nanny right in the middle with a silly hat on and a great big smile on her face. The younger kids thought this was amazing as some of them didn’t know some of the faces on the wall! The same cousin also gave each branch of the family a CD with all the photos from the Family Tree to each of us to keep. I play it sometimes and it fills me with emotion…happy as well as sad.
Nan’s Birthday was in May, and around the February after she had died, a plan was hatched that as many of us as possible would try and get together to scatter her ashes in the church where her youngest son was buried and in the Seaside town that we had all visited and loved in the time she had lived there. A Caravan park was sourced and we descended en masse -brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, cousins and second cousins – all came for the weekend to be together, celebrate Nan’s Birthday and scatter her ashes. We had a lovely party on the Saturday Evening and on the Sunday afternoon after a pub lunch we all decamped to the beach after going to the church and it was just so right.
The next year it was suggested that, as we are such a big family and don’t all get together very often, we might do something similar, but not at the same place as that original campsite was pretty cruddy! And so Nanny’s Birthday Weekend has become a permanent feature on our family calendar. We have been to different Caravan Parks, taking it in turns to organise it. Not everyone can come every year, but as many as can, do. Even my cousin and his family who live in Macau have scheduled their visits to England so that they can come occasionally. So we’ve seen his boys grow too. We usually have between 10 and 14 caravans full.
2 years ago my Sister and 2 of my cousins were all celebrating being 50 during the year, so we incorporated a 150th Black and White party, with the Birthday Girls wearing a different colour each so they stood out.
My sister also got married in Mid-May and as she only had a small Wedding, we were able to have a Celebration with everyone at the Family Weekend.
This year one of my Cousins is actually getting married on the weekend closest to the Birthday Weekend, so it will be a double celebration again.
People are quite surprised that we do this, but I just think it’s a testament to how much we all loved her, and how close we are as a family. What I really like about it is that all the next generation of children have grown up with this, and I really hope that in the future they will try and continue with the get-together. There are family members who weren’t even born before she died, but love the fact that they have all these “cousins” who love them and they love.
This is a picture of her and a bunch of us grandchildren one Christmas. I think it represents her perfectly…happy to be in the middle of all the mayhem.
She is missed greatly…but roll on next weekend!