I get to see my Grandma very rarely because I live in London, and she lives in Yorkshire. Her home is a cocoon of warmth and quiet, perched on the side of a hill, her house looks down onto a vast valley below. A valley that is filled with people and houses and even a motorway, but in her home you feel entirely detached from all those things, life and its business are over there somewhere and you are up above it in a space brimming with rest.
Travelling from my parents’ home in Lancashire to my Grandma’s in Yorkshire is a journey that always resounds with me because of two things…
At weekends my granddad used to cycle the 84 miles from one side of the Pennines to the other, from where he lived, to where my Grandma used to live as a girl in Lancashire. So, he used to cycle for seven hours, up and down, across some serious hills just so he could see his girl (Beryl) and then back again a day later. When he heard that my Grandma has been in a car-accident, he cycled through the night to see her.
Good old-fashioned love.
The kind that knew no boundaries and would not be curtailed by something as inconsequential as hills and distance.
On his way back, Grandma used to cycle part of the way with him, through the lanes near her farm, and then watch as he cycled back into the hills. That image does something to me, it shakes me deep in my core, a parting of the sweetest kind.
Love has always been and always will be, and really that is the only thing that matters. If we boil life down to the nuts and bolts, love is there at the bottom of it all, the bare husk that the rest of life rests within. My Granddad died over twenty years ago (six years short of my whole life) but I know he’s just cycling back into the hills, looking over his shoulder waiting for his Beryl to join him.
After he died, my Grandma found a poem in his bedside drawer, we don’t know if it was written by him or if he copied and amended it from somebody else. It went like this (it is written in the Yorkshire accent)…