I always think that memories are funny things: you can completely forget that they're there, and then a fragment of a picture, or a smell, or a sound can jolt them wide awake. Suddenly, you can see those memories as clearly and as vividly as if they had just happened. For example, if I see the back of someone's grey, curly hair, or hear somebody laugh out loud in a certain way, or catch sight of a particular make of spearmints in a shop, memories of Grandma Pam come flooding back to me.
Mints and reading, mints and cuddles, mints and Florida! As you might have gathered, my Grandma was very fond of mints and always had a packet handy.
"One for me, one for you..." that was her catchphrase! She would have them stuffed in the pocket of her favourite pink apron when I sat on her knee and read to her. She would have them poking out from beneath the cuff of her right sleeve when I was cuddled up close, and she was reading to me.
And I was convinced that she took a whole suitcase of mints away with us when we all went on a big adventure to Florida!
Florida was a wonderful holiday. We saw all the exciting attractions that I had only ever seen before on television. However, my most precious memory of my Grandma took place when we visited Seaworld. We had watched the whales, been dazzled by the dolphins and had laughed out loud at the sea lions. It had been a boiling hot day but then, quite unexpectedly, it started to rain. Not a little sprinkling shower, not even a very heavy downpour: it seemed as though the heavens had opened and somebody up there, with a mischievous sense of humour, had decided to spray us all with a hose-pipe turned on at full blast!
"Never mind!" exclaimed my Grandma. "We haven't come all this way to be stopped by a bit of water! We still have the manatees to see!"
"But Grandma," we all protested, "it's raining too heavily. Everyone else is running for cover."
It was true; all the Americans and other tourists were, sensibly, huddled together sheltering from the storm. My Grandma cast a scornful eye at them and defiantly stepped out on to the main path firmly clutching my hand, and telling me to grab my sister's. There were eight of us in total and we marched off in a long line, towards the manatees' aquarium. My Grandma led us along, whilst singing the old song, "I'm Singing in the Rain", at the top of her voice! Everyone just stood and stared at us, open-mouthed, but none of us cared. And what did Grandma produce to help us "dry off" on the way back to the hotel? You've guessed it! A packet of Spearmints!
Grandma Pam was an extremely special lady. She was young at heart, made the best of every situation, and had an indomitable spirit. I feel honoured that she was mine because she has filled the early part of my life with happy and colourful memories. Life simply isn't the same without her.
However, those memories will stay with me forever - and I'm determined to keep them in mint condition.