I have always been my Nanny’s favourite. Her special little girl. And, growing up, I needed to believe that was the case. Everybody needs to feel important.
She has always made me feel loved and treasured, safe and complete. Looking back, I realise now that she is one of the few people I have never really disguised myself from. I have never had to because I have never, ever questioned that she loves me. For me. Even when I have let her down.
As a child, I would often stay with her and, being an old school dinner lady, she would always cook me hearty meals. If it was my birthday, or I had to take my cookery badge at Brownies, I would be sent to Nanny’s for the day to bake cakes. Sunday lunch at hers was always full of treats.
But she never asked my favourite. She knew.
I would know she had cooked it the second I walked in the door. From her smile alone.
Thick and meaty sausages resting in light and crispy batter, lightly browning in her gas oven. Stocky gravy (with a flavour that I have never tasted anywhere other than sat at her dining room table and I could never accurately describe here) would be prepared and poured from a proper gravy boat. And peas. Always peas.
She would make it when she was expecting me. Never too much trouble or too much effort. She would make it to make me smile.
And other people make it now when I am coming to stay. They make it when I am sad. They make it when they want me to feel special. And, once, a boy even promised to make it for our first date. He never did. I always appreciate the gesture and I always smile but, Nanny, it never compares to yours.
And now Nanny’s dining room belongs to someone else and, on those special, family occasions, I drive to collect her and we all sit around a table at my Mum and Dad’s ‘new’ house, or even at ours. And I miss her toad in the hole.
But I still do, and always will, treasure her smile.