My grandmother died this morning. She was ninety-six. She'd had a good innings but it's odd, no matter how much you're prepared for such things, it always comes as a shock.
Auntie Kath was actually my step-grandmother. My mother's mother died not long after I was born quite suddenly and so I barely knew her. Auntie Kath married my grandfather fairly soon after for the family's sake as much as anything else. It can't have been easy taking on such a large family but she did it, to my eyes at least, with seeming ease.
Auntie Kath was a Yorkshire lass and introduced me to such culinary delights as putting Stilton cheese on fried Christmas Pudding and serving roast dinners with eighteen different vegetables. She was a keen golfer, a good cook and liked a drop of sherry. She had all the time in the world for her step-grandchildren - all twenty-one of us. She even managed the amazing feat of keeping track of all the great-grandchildren too. Not easy with such a fertile brood.
Best of all when we played cards with her at Christmas she'd let us win - we knew, of course, but didn't want to let on. I think she knew we knew too. But that just made it all the more perfect. Both playing the roles to make the other happy.
I shall remember her very fondly.