The weekend marked the 15th anniversary of my maternal grandmothers death. Born while Queen Victoria was still on the throne, she remembered when cars were still a rare sight and most people travelled either by foot or by horse drawn vehicles and lived through two world wars. Despite the lack of modern conveniences back in those days she still managed to bring six daughters and two sons into this world.
She smoked like a trooper and was physically active up until the last few weeks of her life when a minor fall resulted in complications and a rapid demise. The last time I saw her was a week before her death when I visited her as she lay in her hospital bed with tubes sticking out of her and looking desperately pale and frail.
Even though I was well into my thirties when she died I was still shocked by how quickly this remarkable and formidable woman had faded away. Though barely five feet tall, she seemed much bigger than that to me - even when I was an adult - as she carried an enormous presence as well as a healthy, ruddy complexion and quite a few extra pounds.
Formidable as she was, as a kid I remembered her most as an incredibly jolly woman - always ready with a smile, a hug, a treat for her grandkids (of which she had many) and an incredibly booming laugh. Apart from smoking she seemed to have only one other vice - she liked a flutter on the ITV Seven on a Saturday afternoon.
It wasn't until I was well into my teens when I actually saw my grandmother lose her temper - with my sister in law. My sister in law was a product of her time - ultra left wing, ultra feminist. I'd cycled round that Saturday afternoon to see my grandmother and she'd asked me to nip down the bookies for her. I was still under eighteen, so technically it was illegal, but no one seemed to mind (nor did they mind at the fag shop when I bought 20 Senior Service for her either).
When I got back I saw my brothers Vauxhall Viva outside so knew he was there. As usual I made my way around the back (nobody used their front doors much down that street - everyone went straight around the back where it was always open) where I was just in time to hear my sister in law making some rather snide comments about "a life of drudgery like in your day".
Well, my grandmother exploded. "Don't you dare to presume to know what my life was like, you stupid girl" she raged before telling my sister in law that she'd had a wonderful life and that she regretted nothing. As my sister in law and brother beat a hasty retreat, my grandmother yelled one prediction at her "the time will come when you regret losing what we had!".
There was a lot more than that - stuff about material things and so on - and that probably wasn't exactly what she said, but that was the general gist of her comments. My sister in law never went back (though my brother frequently did) and she eventually divorced my brother so I never got to find out if she ended up regretting what my grandmother had - however, this study suggests that women are starting to.
Women are less happy nowadays despite 40 years of feminism, a new study claims.
Despite having more opportunities than ever before, they have a lower sense of well-being and life satisfaction, it found.
Always listen to your grandmother, I say.