Happy Birthday Gran...
On the morning of 22nd May 1918 a coal miner's wife prepared to give birth at home to the eighth of her nine children.
By evening my gran was born and her mother named her Margaret (Maggie), who she fed and settled to sleep before getting back to looking after the rest of the children and washing and preparing her husband's pit clothes for the next morning's shift.
This same coal miner's wife would give birth to her ninth and last child (another girl, this one called Elizabeth - Lizzie) two years later but would sadly succumb to stomach cancer in 1927 when her two young daughters were nine and seven years old respectively.
My gran, for all her tender years, immediately took over the role of mum in the house, trying her best to console her devastated and grieving father and look after her older brothers and younger sister.
In the years between losing her mum at age nine and getting married (to a coal miner) at age 20, she was cook, cleaner and mum to them all.
It was her dream to leave school and study to be a Domestic Science teacher (the irony is not lost on me) but it could never be as family circumstances dictated that she, like her brothers before her, had to leave school as soon as the law allowed (age 14) and start earning money. Her brothers went down the pit and she went into service as a maid in one of the "big houses" for one of the pit managers.
She was still in service when she married my grandpa in 1938, leaving only when she fell pregnant with my mum in 1940. She spent the rest of her life (she lived till she was 91, outliving all her siblings and her friends) being devoted to her family, my grandpa, her two daughters, four grandchildren and two great grandchildren)
She is the most selfless person I have ever known and I count myself beyond privileged to have had such a close and loving relationship with her and that she lived long enough for Alan to get to know and love her too. She utterly adored him and the feeling was mutual.
She is also the funniest, wisest and most patient woman I have ever known.
Happy 100th Birthday Gran!
I hope you are somewhere good entertaining my mum, David's mum and all your friends in your own unique way. I am raising a little glass of something fizzy (no, not Bucks Fux as you used to call it! :-)) to your memory and in thanks for being the best gran and life guide a girl could ever have. Till we meet again...
1918 was a very good year.
Happy Birthday Mum!