Saturday 8 September 2012

In Praise of Human Granny

I am worried now that in my last post I left you with the impression that Human Granny is a rather alarming looking person.

Oh I would hate for you to have that idea. It is true that she doesn't too much like being photographed, but I think she won't mind me showing again this picture of her (and Human Grandad), to set the record straight.

Now I've told you quite a lot on this blog about HGD, so today I want to redress the balance and say some things about HGY.

Gail tells me that her mother had an unusual upbringing, being sent to boarding school, on account of her own mother's ill health, from the age of five. Yes, you read that right, five years old. Four years later, at the onset of World War Two, she and her fellow pupils at St Hilda's School, Whitby, boarded a ship at Liverpool docks, and were evacuated across the Atlantic, braving U boats and a hurricane, finally to reach the safe haven of Toronto in Canada. Brave little Maureen was the only person aboard who was not seasick during the hurricane. After four years in Canada, now a teenager, skilled in ice-skating, cross-country skiing and canoeing, and fattened up on the Canadian diet which included a quart of whole milk per day, HGY returned to the UK, was reunited with her parents and became acquainted with the trials of wartime food rationing in England. She was an able, diligent student, and her father had a fervent desire that his only child be well-educated. Following success at school she took a degree in 'Social Studies' at Leeds University and only narrowly missed out on first class honours. Soon after came a job as Personnel Officer at the Boots factory in Nottingham, marriage to a quiet, handsome Boots scientist nine years her senior, then two children, boy + girl, and a family life altogether more conventional than that she experienced in her own childhood, although she clearly found her later part-time job as a social worker in the City Hospital more stimulating than mundane domestic duties.

You know, I have noticed that HGY is a stoical character, not prone to self pity. Just like for us dogs, I guess it is those early experiences that are most important in shaping humans too.

It was fifty-six years ago that Human Granny vowed to look after her husband "in sickness and in health". I don't suppose she ever then envisaged that one day she would have to remind him of the way to the bedroom and to tell him not to put the butter in the dishwasher. But she doesn't complain, compelled by both love and duty to expend her remaining energies in caring for her ailing and increasingly hard to manage life partner, unable to contemplate the notion that anyone else might tend to him while she is still able.

Oh and I have to tell you that she is always most welcoming when I come to stay, despite her claiming not to be a 'dog person', and that I feel more comfortable and relaxed when I visit her than I do anywhere else in the world.


  1. What an excellent post about HGY. Its hard to imagine how anyone could send a five year old away to boarding school, then to avoid Hitler's bombs all the way to Canada,then home as a teenager to a family she barely knew. What an amazing person to have such strength.

    Bertie, you are a most lucky fellow, and Gail is lucky too, to have such wonderful parents/grandparents. She and HG have my very best wishes!

    Jo, Stella and Zkhat

  2. I loved learning about HGY. What a strong woman. I hope one day I will have the same patience as she does. A true love for sure.

  3. What a lovely tribute to your Granny.


  4. Thank you, Bertie, for sharing this very interesting story of your HGY. Your Gail comes from some most excellent stock. Sending the HG's best wishes!

    Bart and Ruby

  5. What an amazing story Bertie! That is pure love at its finest!!

    Lily Belle & Muffin

  6. A wonderful, interesting woman. We know she wouldn't think so because that generation just gets on with the do what you have to.

    We know you love her VERY much Bertie, and it sounds as if she loves you, too.

    Thanks for telling us about them.

    XXXOOO Daisy, Bella & roxy

  7. Human Granny and Grandpa look like very nice people and you look very much at home laying there between them. What an incredible story, Mommy had to read it twice. That is a beautiful love story. You are so lucky to have them.

    Loveys Sasha

  8. we think they are both adorable
    Benny & Lily

  9. We wish Granny all the best and we salute her for looking after Grand Pa. Please send her our love. Have a lovely Sunday.
    Best wishes Molly

  10. Ah I wondered why the date was all wrong! As I said, Granny sounds wonderful. They made that generation from sterling stuff! Deccy x

  11. Your Hu Granny sounds like a very strong and loving lady...... I don't have a Grandmaw...... But if I did I wish she'd be just like yours!

    Tail Wuggles, Rubie xxx

  12. What a great story Bertie. Thanks for sharing. Hope I can achieve half of that!

  13. We did enjoy that story Bertie, what very interesting grandparents you have.
    You look very much at home visiting and the garden in the background looks delightful.
    From your absent Aunties with nowhere near such an interesting story!

  14. A very fine report on HGY Bertie. I feel I know her much better now. I think you make their living room look very nice too. I have often wondered, also, about Hamish's now famous imcident with the scones so I am pleased we got a very informative report!

    Yes, I is a Medium in agility too, the best size I thinks!

  15. We love hearing about HGDs and HGYs when they were young. When we celebrated our HGD's 100th birthday last year (101 coming up on September 17), the best part of the celebration was reminiscing about all the things you write about your HGY: all that a person has accomplished on his way to today.

    Next time you see your HGD and HGY, give them extra wirey smooches from us, OK?

    Wirey love,

    Jake and Just Harry

  16. Oh Dear Bertie and your Gail, what a wonderful photo of your Grandad and Granny. It brought tears to mum's eyes. Thanks for sharing with us. Our angel Nana and Poppa were married for 65 years and our Poppa nursed our Nana for the last two years of her life when she was very ill. Hugs to all and can you give two hugs to your Grandad and Granny from mum. No worries, and love, Stella and Rory

  17. Wow, what a beautiful tribute and wonderful insight into the life of your sweet mum. I so enjoyed reading about her. Please congratulate her on her wedding anniversary...and send both your special folks my personal greetings from South Africa.
    With love

  18. Dear Bertie,
    Thank you for telling us about your HGY. Her story was very interesting, and she sounds like a very strong and independent lady, who loves your HGD very much. Old age can be a confusing time (and the last thing we want is for one of our humans to wear out too soon by not accepting little bits of help), but as Gail probably knows there are some people who don’t want the obvious forms of help until they ask, which is when we dogs can provide a calm and relaxing influence just by visiting. In the photo above you definitely look very relaxed lying between Gail’s parents, so I know you are helping them both in ways that only a dog like you can!

    Love and woofs,

    PS When you wake up on Tuesday morning do not panic if Gail stuffs a tennis ball in your mouth and tells you to carry it around all day. Certain things need to be celebrated, and it seems that a young Scottish boy called Andy has done very well in America and all of the UK should be proud of what he has achieved!

  19. Thanks Bertie for sharing HGY story I found it very intresting,I can understand why you feel relaxed when visiting
    Have a good week
    See Yea George xxx

  20. Your granny is an inspiration to us all!

  21. Grandma sounds like quite the gal! Reminds Mom of her Grandma on her Dad's side. Great lady. Family Matriarch. Mom still smiles at the times when she was a child and spent her summers helping her in the garden and painting landscapes from magazine photos with her in her study. Grandmas are very special peeps.

    Waggin at ya,