Last night I dreamed I met my Nanny again.
In the dream my Nanny was old, but not old like when she died. Old like she was when I was a little boy. Old the way I remembered her. Grey hair, very neat, permed. Comfortable clothes, especially jumpers and cardigans. Always with a smile and hug or a kiss (or both). Grampe wasn't in the dream but I saw Nanny. She was sitting at the table in her old house, the one she lived in for about 50 years before she was moved into sheltered housing.
She was sat at the dining room table, next to the glass cabinet that had all the little nik naks in it (including the salt and pepper shakers with the funny faces) and she was pouring tea from that posh looking teapot they always had, into a fine china cup.
On the sideboard was that little ceramic dish where she kept her jewellery and her Warwick Castle staff badge. She was a guide there. Started as a Lady's Maid in the employ of the Earl of Warwick, then when she retired she stayed on as a guide, showing people around the castle. She was born in 1915 so it was something she was proud of, to work for a Lord.
She was invited to the wedding of the Earl's son and the Earl had singled her out to speak to her at the reception. My Nanny floated on air about that for years.
My Nanny was always generous. She spoiled me and my brother all the time. We would go to her house to stay the weekend and watch telly with her and Grampe. She once hid two sets of toy bows & arrows in her house and me and my brother had to hunt for them. There was a board game like pinball that we kept at Nanny & Grampe's house that we couldn't take home, it was only to play with when we were there.
After tea my Nanny would give us Opal Fruits and Ovaltine and let us stay up later than we would at home. Then she'd tuck us into our beds (me in the spare room, my brother in my father's old room) with a hug and a kiss and a hot water bottle.
My birthday and Christmas were always a treat. Nanny made cakes and bought us chocolates and sweets and whatever we'd asked for as a present.
When my mother wanted to elevate herself above the job she was doing she went to night school to study for O levels, then A levels and finally she did a degree so she could become a teacher. My Nanny & Grampe would take me and my brother, sometimes at an hour's notice so my mother could study.
I saw my Nanny in my dream, looking like she did in the 1970s and early to mid 80s, before Grampe died and Nanny lost the will to live. Before she became sad and flatulent and old and pathetic and lonely and depressed. Before the light went out in her eyes and she tried to sleep all day. Before she met my other Nanny, my mother's mother, and told her that she didn't want to live any more, she wanted to be with my Grampe in heaven.
I sat down with her at the table and she smiled and said hello.
And then I remembered that I hadn't done anything to stop my mother from being mean to her when she lost the will to live. How I'd been too scared to even say anything (because on the two occasions that I did my mother screamed at me and cried about how hard she worked in her teaching job and wouldn't speak to me for days after).
I remembered that, in spite of all the wonderful things my Nanny had done for my family, especially my mother, I had not stopped my mother from insulting her, ignoring her and being horrible to her every chance she got.
I remembered that my mother would only allow her to visit once every TWO weeks once she became old and sad after Grampe died. It was too stressful to have her over EVERY Sunday dinnner, because my mother needed the other Sunday to recover from her stressful job.
I remembered that when she got to our house when my father came back with her, for Sunday dinner, my mother would either ignore her or insult her. Nothing else. I remembered how, when my Nanny came to say "thank you" to my mother for being so generous as to allow my Nanny into our house to eat with us, my mother was watching telly and wouldn't even look at her as she continued to stare at the televison, while moving sideways so my Nanny could kiss her cheek.
I remembered that on birthday and Christmas, my mother wouldn't buy my Nanny a card or a present. My father bought her something and said it was from both of them and signed a card on behalf of both of them.
Most of all I remembered that when my Nanny was dying in hospital my mother never went to see her and later said "Well she didn't want me there and I didn't want to be there" and that my cunt of a mother actually believed that she'd treated my Nanny well saying as an epitaph "She was a lovely old woman and she did a hell of a lot of things for us...but we did a hell of a lot of things for her as well".
As I sat with my Nanny in my dream I looked at her and knew I was dreaming but all the things I'd never said were in my mind. She was the way I always wanted to remember her. Old but full of a love of life and full of smiles and sweetness.
I started to cry and she put down the teapot and looked at me.
"Lance, what's wrong?" she asked, looking concerned.
"I'm sorry Nanny, I'm sorry I never stopped my mother from being so horrible to you. I'm sorry I didn't come and see you more often. I was weak and I let you get treated badly. I'm so sorry."
My Nanny smiled and took a handkerchief from her pocket, wiping my tears away and the she said:
"That time is over. You know this isn't really me. It's your guilt and your dream that brought us here. I am content and at peace now. Live your life and be happy. It wasn't your fault. You were a child and conditioned not to answer back."
I smiled at her and she smiled at me and then she faded away.
I woke up in my bed, the sun rising, 6.10 in the morning.
I'd always hoped I'd have that dream. And finally...I did.