Dear grandmother, from your secret granddaughter...

Dear grandmother, from your secret granddaughter...

Dear grandmother,

I wanted to thank you for the cardigans you knitted for my first baby.

They came in big batches. We didn’t know what we were having so you knitted a mixture of colours from yellow and green to pink and multi-coloured. It was a boy: your first great-grandchild. He has never met you and we don’t have a photograph of you.

When his sister was born a few years later, she wore the pink and yellow ones and we took photos for you. I hope you saw them.

I often wonder if she looks like you.

At the time I thought we were on the cusp of a relationship, but that never materialised and I’ve only met you once. I wish I’d known it would just be the once. I wish I'd known you were my last surviving grandparent. I would have asked you more questions. I would have looked into your eyes properly. I would have remembered what colour your eyes are. 

As it is, I will remember the gesture. Not a shop-bought gift, not just one hand-knitted cardigan, but dozens of soft, colourful creations made from a variety of wools and given different finishes. I wonder what you were thinking about during the hours it took to knit them.

I didn’t realise the significance of the gesture at the time, I was so caught up in being a mum to a newborn. Now I choose to think you were knitting the cardigans not just for my baby, but for me as well.  You didn’t know me as a baby and you couldn’t be there for me as a grandmother. You didn’t meet me until I was an adult, but I carry hope that you would have loved me, and maybe even fought to keep me in the family. It’s nice to think like that sometimes, but realistically I know it's unlikely.

We may never know what might have been, but I choose to see your gesture as one of love and redemption. I promise to pass your cardigans down to my children. In this way they will be able to feel a connection to their ancestors despite their complicated family tree. It will be our version of sepia-toned photographs on the wall at home.

And if I am lucky enough to have grandchildren to wear your cardigans, I will hold them so very tight.

Love,

Your secret granddaughter

Heard the one about social services taking your children into care?

Heard the one about social services taking your children into care?

Sophie Willan: highbrow comedy from a care leaver

Sophie Willan: highbrow comedy from a care leaver