At 31, I am very lucky to still have my Gran around. Granted she has dementia, and lives in a nursing home now, but she still knows who we are and I'm very thankful that The Wee One is able to know her Great-Gran and have a relationship with her.
On Friday, my Gran appeared to have a stroke. She was confused (more than usual!), hallucinating and aggressive, which is completely out of character for her. Her coordination went out of the window and she wasn't able to get up on her feet. When my sister and I visited her on Sunday she was a little better but still not quite herself.
Happily, when I visited yesterday with my mum and The Wee One, she was a thousand times better. It was almost as if nothing had happened and she was just her usual self.
My Gran doesn't have many personal belongings anymore, but as The Wee One rifled through a box in Gran's room, she found this badge:
If you can't read the writing on the red bit, it says, "The Salvation Army Red Sheild Worker".
I am what you would call a third-generation Salvationist. The Salvation Army is my church, it's where I go on a Sunday morning (when I'm not working), it's where I went to Sunday School and where I take The Wee One too. It's the church my parents and grandparents went to too.
My dad's family came to the Army though my Old Gran. Old Gran and her sister attended the Home League, an afternoon club if you like, for housewives and women to meet and have fellowship. From there Old Gran sent her three sons to the Sunday school and as they got older they attended the services, joined the band and it became their church.
My mum's family is almost the same story; Gran's mum attended the Home League and so Gran went with her. The Salvation Army became their church too and, when my Grandad met my Gran, he made it his church as well (he was originally from the Mission).
But back to the badge. Serving HM Forces. That could only mean serving Her Majesty's forces. My Gran was 13 when WW2 broke out, 19 when it ended. She wore this badge while working in the Canteen on the Troop Train from Perth to Thurso, serving tea and food to soldiers being transported to and from their stations. When she wasn't on the train, she would work in the stationary canteen at Perth, serving the troops while they waited to go. The Red Shield on the badge is an icon of the Salvation Army; looking at it everyone would have known that Gran was not only serving them tea, but serving God as well. I always knew that she was active in The Salvation Army, but to have had a part in the war effort serving actual soldiers makes me quite proud. I wonder what kind of impression she made on these men as they went to war, or what kind of impression they made on her. Did she know some of the boys who went to war on those trains, were they boys she went to school with or grew up with? Wouldn't it be strange to see them off to their stations, knowing they might not come back?
Sometimes it's hard to think that my Gran was once a young woman, as she's 88 now. She was 57 when I was born, what else did she achieve, take part in, or witness? We forget that older people had a life before children and grandchildren. This is just a snapshot of my Gran's teenage life, and it is already far more interesting than mine!