An Open Letter To My Grandmother

An Open Letter To My Grandmother

Dear Betty,

I had a dream about you the other night. I took you to the theatre, to watch a pantomime production of Cinderella, just as you once did for me, although then it was Jack and the Beanstalk. The theatre was grand: the carpets were a rich red, the bannister rails were gold, the people working there wore traditional porter uniforms with pillarbox hats and shined shoes. During the performance, you turned to me and said that you needed the bathroom, so I took you. On the way back up the stairs, you lent on me. You took my arm, and I supported you. We entered the theatre, and the show had continued on, although we were not there. We began our slow, steady walk, still-linked, down the centre aisle, and it was then that I noticed all of the aisle seats were turned inwards, towards us. In these seats sat a wide array of people, of different ages, genders, times. You greeted each and every one of them as an old friend, leaning down to kiss them, as they grasped your hands in theirs. I thought to myself, ‘how can she know so many people in one place? In this old theatre?’. Time had taken your body, but not your spirit, and I was mortified to find that you were chatting loudly with these people, in the middle of somebody else’s performance.


I would do anything to have one last trip to the theatre with you. One last slice of coffee cake, one last handful of nutty cornflakes, laid on the kitchen table, without the milk – a breakfast of champions. I would love to hear another tale of Naughty Button, of Pooka the rabbit, of the Flower Fairies, or even of the Brother’s Grimm. I want to hear the click of a flowery black stick, or your demands that you ‘don’t really need it, but you’ll take it just in case’. I want to pick up my white overnight bag, decorated with pastel shapes, and come to The Old Post Office, to sit on a patio within a moat of shells, or a green bath tub whilst you tell me about your day.


I would really love for you to help me sleep, by telling the Sandman that I am nearly ready. You were ready, and I will look to the skies every night in the hope of seeing you sailing in his boat, your hand trailing through the stars.

I love you, we all love you, and we always will.

Your youngest grand daughter,



“I am standing upon the seashore. A ship at my side spreads her white sails to the morning breeze and starts for the blue ocean. She is an object of beauty and strength. I stand and watch her until at length she hangs like a speck of white cloud just where the sea and sky come to mingle with each other.

Then someone at my side says: “There, she is gone!”

“Gone where”

Gone from my sight. That is all. She is just as large in mast and hull and spar as she was when she left my side and she is just as able to bear the load of living freight to her destined port.

Her diminished size is in me, not in her. And just at the moment when someone at my side says: “There, she is gone!” There are the other eyes watching her coming, and other voices ready to take up the glad shout: “Here she comes!”

And that is dying.”

– Henry Van Dyke

My Betty


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