Wednesday, 16 September 2015

Postcards to Edna | The Small Desk

Every year on the 12th of April we would make the journey to visit my Great Aunt Edna on her birthday. Every year my Mum would bring Waitrose food that could be easily cooked in Edna's slightly temperamental oven. Every year my Dad would expect to be told off by his Aunt for not visiting enough. And every year we would spend the day inside her house, because trying to take a 100-year-old lady on a day trip is near on impossible.

With the exception of her budgie, and after the death of her husband, Norman, Edna lived alone in her own house until the age of 101. This is an incredibly impressive achievement, but it was also an incredibly lonely existence. My parents would ring her regularly, her brother-in-law and his wife stayed in contact, and she had some very loyal neighbours who would visit her once a day. I tried to provide some light relief in the form of letters, postcards, photos and cut outs from magazines. She used to ask me to send her the photos of the 'pretty dresses' from Hello and OK magazine.

Then one day she had to go into hospital, and this is sadly where her life ended. I remember I was in a pub sitting at the bar when I got the call. I can't say I wasn't expecting it, and despite dreading the bi-annual trips to Nottingham, it was weird to say goodbye to this lady who had always been part of my life.

The other day my Mum unexpectedly brought round the postcards and letters I had sent to her, and it got me thinking about the significance of receiving old correspondence you sent to someone who has now passed away. What should you do with them? I often keep things to show any future children I may have. But these letters I wrote to Edna only seem like they would be interesting to Edna and me. Perhaps that is just it; it's something for me to remember her by. It's a record of our relationship. I only have birthday cards from her; our pen-pal set-up was only one way. But that was fine by me, there's no way she could pen a whole letter, not because she couldn't mentally, but because she couldn't physically. I think she liked receiving the postcards, but equally I enjoyed sending her the postcards, hoping that it would make her day.

It's been seven years since she died now, and I still like to make myself feel good by sending postcards, but now it is only to my Grandparents. I only send them to my Grandparents when I'm on holiday, but I like to think they're not as lonely as Edna was. I used to send Edna postcards even from the city I was living in. I hope that if I get to 101 I'll have someone who sends me regular postcards. There's something about them that just says 'I'm thinking about you, you're not forgotten'.


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