A Final Postcard For Joyce Ash

Mother & Son Playing Cards

My Nanna hated it when I called her Joyce. So most of the time I called her Nanna. Unless I felt like winding her up… Which was often.

She always loved to receive postcards from us, and as I’m unfortunately over in America and unable to attend her funeral today, I thought it was an opportunity to write one last note to my wonderful Nanna. So here goes…

Dear Joyce,

Well, here I am in Portland, Oregon. Food great. Weather average. Met some nice girls. A couple have even offered to marry me, so maybe I’ll find true love out here. Or, at least, just a legal way of staying the country.

Do you remember when I was 8 years old and you told me the truth about Father Christmas? I assured you that I already knew the answer…. Then you confirmed it. And I was like “Oh…ok”

Do you remember asking me to make you cups of tea, and no matter how much I tried, it would never be to your tastes? Even if the bag had only barely touched the water, you would complain it was “too strong”.

Do you remember we’d walk to the shops and you’d buy me sweets on the condition I wouldn’t tell my Mum? I guess she had to find out one day!

Do you remember when you used to babysit me? I would always get excited that it would mean we could watch soap operas and maybe have Fish & Chips whilst Mum and Dad were out. 

Do you remember a few years ago when I asked what thoughts you had on your life? You told me that most of all, you were proud of your 3 children, Stephen, Phillip and Beverly, and happy to have seen them grow up and have families of their own.

Do you remember all those games of cards? Whatever the game, you would always win. On the odd occasion I did get a hand, you’d say “It’s only leant”. Later, you’d forget what game you were playing. But you’d still win. 

Do you remember telling me about Soloman Grundy? “Born on a Monday, Christened on Tuesday, Married on Wednesday, Took ill on Thursday, Grew worse on Friday, Died on Saturday, Buried on Sunday. That was the end, Of Solomon Grundy.” You liked that rhyme, and so did I, for some morbid reason.

I have lots of fond memories of you Nanna and I learnt lots of things from you. Most of them unspoken. And, like everyone, I will miss the unique role you played in my life. How to sum it up? You were kind, honest, playful, strong-willed and a ever-loving mother and grandmother. But most of all, to me you were always just Joycey.

Anyway it’s easy to be sentimental. But I know that’s not what you want to hear. You suffered a lot pain as you grew old, but I never once heard you moan about it. In fact, you always brought light to every situation. Keep Calm and Keep Laughing. Even the very last time I saw you, as Dad told you off for not eating your dinner, you still had that playful glint in your eye. It always reminded me of a cheeky school girl. Your ability to keep laughing in the face of adversity will stay with me forever and is a constant source of inspiration in my life and my work.

You once mentioned the song you wanted at your funeral. “I Just Called To Say I Love You”. It seemed a strange choice. I’d never had you down as a big Stevie Wonder fan. But when I called you last week to tell you that I was thinking of you, it all suddenly made sense to me. Throughout your life, family was most important. You always loved hearing from us, wherever we were or whatever we were doing and knowing that we loved you.

As this is a postcard, I suppose I could say “Wish You Were Here”, but I know you already are, and you will always be. And I’m sure you don’t need me to tell you that your family loves you in a way that words can’t express.

 Goodbye Nanna. Thanks for being Joyce.

 Lots of Love,

 Gregory xxx


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