Monday 10 January 2011

A Granny Stripe For a Granny

Ready for a story?

You might need a cup of tea and a biscuit first as I have quite a long story to tell. I'm going to have a cuppa myself.  I prefer white tea these days and have become quite addicted to this Qi Organic White Tea with orange, cloves, cinnamon and ginger. It's really warming during these rather nippy winter months.


Now that you've made your tea (or coffee, maybe juice or even a glass of wine) I can start.  It's a happy and sad tale at the same time but more happy than sad I think and there's even some crochet in there too!

I've known my mum was adopted since I was a little girl.  As I got older she I wanted to know about why she was adopted, what happened to her real parents and if she wanted to find them.  She told me that she had been adopted as a baby and that her adoptive mother had told her that her real mother did not want her.  She was told that her father was a Staff Sergeant in the American Army and that her mother had been separated from her husband when she'd met this handsome American soldier and found she was expecting my mum.

My Grandmother
My mum was born the year the second world war ended and adopted when she was a few weeks old. Her adoptive mum wasn't a very nice person ( I won't go into details) and as all her own children were much older than my mum, she didn't have a very nice childhood.  She often wondered what it would be like if her real mum or dad came and rescued her.  Funnily enough her real mum didn't live too far away from her as her adoptive mother's daughter was friends with her real mum and that was how the adoption came about.  She never had the courage to talk to her real mother as her adoptive mother was very controlling and never would have allowed it also in those days her own mother may not have been allowed to contact her so no contact was ever made.  

Fast forward to October 2010 and I started having this feeling that I really needed to find out about my grandmother.  I really felt sad that my mother never really knew her own story and I knew it was because of her distressing upbringing that she would never have the courage to find out as the fear of rejection would have just been too much for her.

I knew my grandmother was half Norwegian and her maiden name is not a common one.  I also knew the area where she used to live so I decided, with my mother's permission to search for her.  I could have only hoped that she would still be alive and I prayed for something good to happen. It didn't take long.

It took me a while to find the words but I wrote a letter to the address that I had found and couldn't believe it when I got a phone call the very next morning after posting the letter.  The lady on the other end of the phone had a lovely accent that I've always missed hearing as I don't live in the area that I was born anymore.  She blurted out " she is your grandmother"  I was shaking and couldn't think of anything to say except - Wow!  

My Grandmother

It turns out my grandmother had been forced to give my mother up and had been pining for her ever since.  The lady who had called me on the phone turned out to be my grandmother's adopted daughter whom she had cared for since she was a baby but about 20 years after my mum was born. We had many long chats and the sad news was that my grandmother was now suffering from dementia and was now quite unwell although she was able to remember some details about my mum's father which she never ever thought she would find out and she knew who my mum was and seemed to be happy that her long lost daughter had found her.  Her adopted daughter told us how my grandmother often used to burst into tears saying how she still missed my mother even though it was such a long time ago.  

I now know that I not only have Norwegian and American heritage on my mother's side but Czech from my maternal grandfather too! 

My mum and I decided that there was no time to lose and we made plans to visit her mother as soon as we could in October this year.  We both live in different parts of the UK so we met up when we got there.  Luckily my mum has childhood friends still there so it was a nice trip down memory lane for her too.

My mum and I both used to play here when we were children
We were only able to make two visits to see her mum, my grandmother and on the second visit she was sleeping when we arrived.  We were about to leave after chatting a while with her daughter as we didn't want to disturb her but she suddenly woke up and wanted to know who was in the room ( her eyesight wasn't that great).  Now she hadn't really been 'with us' on the first visit as with dementia she had good days and bad days but that day she knew it was her lost daughter in front of her and I only wish I could describe the look of utter joy that came across her face.  She had the widest smile ever and she just put her hands round my mum's face to look at her and  said "Your my baby!" She then gave her a huge hug. That's no mean feat for a very frail 88 year old lady!  

Of course we all cried and it was a lovely moment that I will never forget. I'd often watched long lost relatives re-united on some tv programmes and wished I could have done the same for my mum.  Well I'd done my best and while it could never make up for many lost years at least my mum knew she'd always been wanted and could now lay many ghosts to rest.  

Before we traveled to visit my grandmother, I knew I wanted to take something for and I thought - what better for a grandmother than a granny stripe!  I had to work fast as I had to travel in just over a week when I started it but I was very motivated!  I finished it just before our second visit and left it with her daughter to give to her later on that day.  It turned out that she absolutely loved it and took it with her wherever she was.  Of course that made me feel very happy.  

Unfortunately just a couple of weeks after we had seen her she had gone downhill and had to be admitted to a home but she took her granny stripe with her and the staff at the home reported she kept it with her always.

Sadly she died on Friday.  

I was so lucky to get to meet her and even though she wasn't well she was bright, happy, cheeky and very funny.  Her daughter told me she had been like that her whole life and had been a wonderful mother to her.  I'm glad that the only things I'd been able to give her meant so much to her.  Being able to know that her daughter had thought about her all these years and always wanted to know her and her crochet blanket to give her a little bit comfort and to know that we were thinking of her. 

Grandma this post is for you.  xxx

My Grandmother at her wedding with her mum and dad

My Grandmother (in the back) with her mother (front)

My Grandmother (My mother is the spitting image of her and my daughter too!)


  1. What a touching story, I have tears in my eyes from reading it. I'm so sorry for your loss.

  2. What an incredible story and how lucky you were to have her in your life, even for a short time.

    Very best wishes, Fiona x

  3. Your story is very touching and this is the first thing I read in your blog as I just discovered it!
    Thank you for visiting mine today. I use corel draw to draw my patterns.
    Your crochet work is beautiful and I am gonna visit you often...
    Have a good evening,

  4. oh you dear sweet person. this is such a beautiful, sad, moving, heartwarming story.
    i lost touch with my two eldest children for many years when they were taken to live abroad by their father, i know the heartbreak of this kind of seperation, fortunately i was reunited with my children when they reached their teens. they were two and four when they were taken and it was terrible. the only thing that kept me going was holding my love for them in my heart and wishing for their happiness. i thought of them every day as your grandmother would have done for your mother. you did such a wonderful thing for your family and the crochet shawl is another beautiful part of this tender story.

    bless you xxx


  5. p.s. i meant to say also that my great-grandmother was norwegian.

    and i really love these precious photographs

    thank you so much for sharing them as well as your story xxx

  6. Dear Rachael, what a wonderful post you made here. What a true family story and how beautiful you got it on 'paper'. I am very happy for all of you that the meeting of mother and daughter and granddaughter was arranged by you this way! Those moments must be engraved in your memory... And that granny stripe you made for your grandmother is so lovely and beautiful. I cannot help but ask you: where is the blanket now?
    Love, Maaike

  7. What a touching story Rachael!

    You are such a thoughtful lovely soul - your granny stripe is absolutely stunning.

  8. What an amazing and beautiful story, Rachael. I'm sorry for your loss, but so glad for you and your mum to have been able to see her before it was too late. How truly special and exceptional your granny stripe blanket is. xx Josie

  9. Dear Rachael, thank you so much for sharing your story. I mourn for you and your mother that you didn't find her sooner and have her in your life for a longer time. My parents moved our family away from my grandparents when I was only 4 years old and I feel it was tragic that I was deprived of a relationship with both sets of my grandparents.

    Life can be so sad sometimes. ((hugs)) Teresa
    PS, I added your blog as a favorite on my blog.. :-)

  10. Oh my word, what a lovely story and what a great thing for you to do for your mother. It left me with tears in my eyes (and I'm sat at work at the moment!lol).

    I'm new to your blog and loved reading your post, I will 'follow' you and look forward to many more posts.
    x Tracy x

  11. ‘Stylish Blogger Award’

    I recently received the above award, which made me feel fantastic. Part of the package entails spreading the Blog Love onto your favourite bloggers & that is YOU…Thank you for sharing all of your beautiful light with us!!!


  12. What beautiful story. Very moving. Glad that you and your mum got to meet your Grandmother, just such a shame it wasn't sooner.

    Beautiful photgraphs

    Have a super day!

    Vanessa xxx

    p.s....oh dear, have I started you on a Pip Studio love?!!!!!!!!

  13. Wow! This is some real true life story - just like in the movies. Rachael, you a wonderful soul and its very brave of you to have reached out and made a different in that situation. You aspired and established the truth. May her gently soul rest in peace. You design so beautifully! You are luckier - enjoy the company of your mother and mom!

  14. Hi there love your story

  15. What a wonderful story...hugs x

  16. Wuaaaaaawww! Rachel your blog, your work, your colors are wonderful, thank you very much for your visit, keep in touch dear!

  17. My eyes are full of tears after reading this touching story, how beautiful for you all, peace for an old lady, comfort for your mother and a new family too, amazing, you should be so proud. Your mother is very lucky to have you as a daughter.xx Brenda

  18. That was a two hankie story.
    How wonderful that you managed to bring happiness to your mother and your grandmother. I'm sure your grandmother's passing was much more peaceful knowing she had been reunited with her long lost but much loved daughter. The blanket will have been treasured not just because it was beautiful but because it was made with love by her kind and caring granddaughter.
    Carol xx

  19. I know you wrote this quite a long time ago now, but have just been looking back through your blog... your story is so moving, I have tears in my eyes! How wonderful that you and your mum were able to meet her at last before it was too late, am sure it would have meant the world to her too. xxx
    p.s your granny stripe is amazing!


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