In late September my husband, Martyn, and I traveled to Emsworth, England for the much-anticipated 90th birthday of his dear Granny. As part of our gift to her, I photographed her party at the Emsworth Sailing Club. In the weeks before the celebration, all invited were asked to write a letter to Granny to be placed inside a memory book and given to her on her special day. As I scrolled through all the many great memories I have of Granny, my mind continually returned to the same moment…
One of my favorite memories of you also happens to be my very earliest.
It was July of 2004 and I was traveling to England on my first visit with Martyn and the family. On the journey there, I asked Marty all kinds of questions about the many folks I was soon to meet. Of course the topic quickly turned to you, and when it did Marty’s face lit up and he began to recollect some of his fondest memories. As I listened, I tried to draw you up in my mind, yet the nervous knots in my stomach only grew larger. I was so very thrilled about our upcoming meeting, but even now I can still recall my intense trepidation. Although at the time Marty and I were years away from being married, I hoped we’d one day tie the knot; already I felt a great reverence for you and it was so important to me that I make a strong first impression, that I earn your approval.
Soon after our plane touched down in London, we were greeted by Carolyn and Chris near the arrivals gate. The four of us piled into your yellow Yaris and got on the road toward Emsworth. The last leg of our jaunt brought us down Pelham Terrace and Marty smiled widely as he pointed out which house was yours. My stomach twisted again.
As I climbed out of the back of the Yaris, I looked up to see you standing in the door frame of your back door, ready to greet us. Marty grabbed my hand, I took a deep breath, and he guided me toward you for an introduction. I was still so very nervous. As I approached, you reached out, patted my cheek and smiled, and then took my hand solidly in yours and led me inside. The nerves dissipated. Amid the bustle of suitcases being unpacked and Marty, Carolyn, and Chris happily chatting about the week’s plans, you sat me down on the couch, asked me if I desired food or drink after the long journey and then engaged me in conversation about the flight over, about my family, about my interests. As Marty had promised, I saw so much of his Mum in you; my affection for you was instant.
Mart and I so treasure the fact that you are celebrating your 90th year on this earth, and we feel so blessed to join in your celebration. One day we hope to have children of our own and we look forward to them knowing your kindness, your strong will, your warmth toward everyone around you, the way you have of making people feel so special. It truly warms my heart to see all of these qualities in Marty and to know that they have been passed down from you. I feel certain they will carry through to the next generation and I eagerly anticipate the day we can tell our children this story and all the others that frame the many, many happy memories we have of you.
Happy birthday, Granny!
With lots and lots of love,
Although Martyn and the rest of Granny’s grandchildren have vivid memories of Southcroft –the home that their Granny and Grandpops lived in for years and years– they moved from that home before I met Granny and into a sweet little cottage on Pelham Terrace, just a block from the center of the village. For all the wonderful memories the families holds from Southcroft, it’s amazing how it’s not a place that makes a Granny’s house a home, but it’s the Granny that resides there. And so while there, I couldn’t resist the opportunity to take some photos of the little touches that made Granny’s cottage such a warm and inviting place to visit.
Until we return again, these pictures will serve as our connection to Granny and to her cottage that feels so much like home.