• Age: 80

In conversation with:
Carly Ann’s Nan

Posted on 13th Feb 2019 by

Diana - The most loving Nan a girl could ask for

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“Everything Happens For a Reason”


My Nan has just celebrated her 80th birthday. Her name is Diana. My middle name is Diana (I know, everyone understandably, thinks it is Ann). I have never taken much notice of my name. All of a sudden; I am so privileged to be named after one of the kindest, wisest souls I will ever know in this lifetime.


With my Nan comes a feeling of safety. As a child, she was the rock. Nan and Mick were the reliable caregivers.


It was a last minute decision to ask my Nan these questions. Leading up to it, Nan kept making passing comments about life and it all sounded like it belonged on The Happy Diary.


Having this conversation has answered many questions I had about myself; I didn’t know where my beliefs and interests came from. Now I see. At one point she told me her favourite quote, without being prompted.. err hello, quote sisters!!


What struck me most, is my Nan’s answers are all the stuff we know, but we don’t take it seriously. What are we waiting for?


My nan and I sat wrapped up in a blanket for a conversation I will cherish forever. We settled down and I asked my Nan if she was ready to begin, her response: “Yes, so long as my memory doesn’t get in the way”.



1. What Makes You Happy?


Most things do really.

Like today having family around. I’m happy doing my housework.

I’m generally happy if I have people around me that are happy, that I can make laugh. Laughter is important to me; but it does get me in trouble because I laugh at the wrong things. If I can have each day laughing at at least 6 things in my day, I’ve had a good day. I laugh at stupid things, like people tripping up (Nan laughed at this point).

I do a lot of thinking whist doing my housework and I think of all sorts of things that have happened in my life. The laughter has got me in trouble all my life. In school, I would be laughing at people pulling funny faces, the teacher would ask me what I’m laughing at and I couldn’t tell them because it would get someone else in trouble. Laughter has got me into trouble, but trouble I now look back on, and still see the funny side that other people couldn’t see.



2) What are Three Things You Do To Look After Your Wellbeing?


  1. One of the hardest is giving up all dairy products for one of these illnesses. I had to give up everything; that was hard because at that time I couldn’t think of anything that didn’t have dairy (Nan laughs at this).
  2. I find it hard meeting new people… I’m never sure what to say to them. I find it hard. At this point I asked her the question again and my nan gave the following answers: as long as my housework is done and I know I’ve done it. I can’t do it like I used to and that’s really hard. I’ve divided the house into two parts now.  I want to do it myself for as long as I can.
  3. Being with family, getting out and being with family is good for me. It takes away all of the bad things. I can’t remember all of the illnesses anyway. This thing is coming to take my memory. I still know who you all are, as soon as I saw you, I knew it was you. And If I can’t be me, if I can’t be laughing… laughing is my medicine, my main medicine, it keeps me going.



3) What Would you Say to Someone Who is going Through a Tough Time at The Moment?


It depends what it is. Normally, I do believe that there is a bigger force than us humans. I don’t know if it’s a person.. I don’t think it is. There is something out there that is a stronger force than us humans. There is something… that has a force over all of us but what it is I don’t know. Sometimes the way I think and find myself…it’s hard to describe.

The feeling of what is it out there.. is it that it’s God? why doesn’t it show itself? Then in the end I just think; whatever this force is, as long as it keeps me going, and I can look after my family the best I can. My family is most important, all of you. Sometimes I wonder what you are up to, I wonder if you are happy and ok.

I have to have faith in that force. Sometimes it makes it better and sometimes it doesn’t. My favourite saying is ‘everything happens for a reason’ and I work on that. Sometimes: days, weeks or months will go by and then I think “ahh that’s why it happened, it all makes sense”. Whether it is good or bad, I console myself with saying there is a reason that happened. I don’t know what it is in this moment, but one day I go “ah that’s why it happened”.

I‘m willing to bet there is something out there far greater, I don’t know what, I can’t put my finger on it.



4. What Helps Keep your Stress Levels at Bay?


Sometimes I can, sometimes I can’t. Sometimes I’m too weak in myself. I tell myself not to be stupid, just get up and do things to make things different. My daughter in law is round the corner and she takes me shopping in town, I go with her for the ride just to have someone to talk to. For me it’s about not looking at the down times – which I do sometimes, I think“bugger the good times”, but most of the time I look for the good. I’m lucky to have Mick (Mick means Grandad to the Grandkids in this family), I would be lonely otherwise, but I feel sorry for Mick that he has to look after me all the time.



5. What Makes you Feel Better When You’re Sad?


My family. Thinking about all my family. I think about people I don’t know who are worse off, not with money, but mostly health.

My health has become very important because I know I am going through a bad patch and it’s a funny feeling knowing I am coming to the end of my life and that’s strange. I try to feel bright about it and think I have been very lucky, very well blessed; I have fantastic family.

When I heard you and Jamie were coming I couldn’t believe it. “Young people like that want to come see an old bag like me? It’s wonderful they are thinking of me and coming”, I had a little cry about it. I do believe there is a greater force; call it what you want; sometimes I say God. When I heard you were coming to stay I said “thank you God, I needed that, I needed to hear they were coming”, to take my mind off the aches and pains.

If I’m honest, and I am going to be honest..( at this point my nan cried and laughed at the same time) I think I am the luckiest person in the world because of my family. A saying my Nan used to use, “I have been very well blessed”. Yes I’ve got illnesses but I’ve got a wonderful family, like you coming to see me, it’s such a thrill.



6. What Song Makes You Happy?


(This really got Nan and Mick thinking, as it’s not always the type of thing we focus on).

I’ve always got my radio on. I like so many, all the old songs.



7. What’s the Best Bit of Advice You’ve Ever Been Given?


Nan and Mick thought about this one. They settled together on: ‘ If a job is worth doing it’s worth doing right’ – I have to do it properly, there is not point me doing it if I can’t do it properly, I’ve always been like that.

Something my dad said which stuck in my head, I do remember it at times: ‘Always treat people how you would like to be treated’. I think of that when I’m angry with somebody or something, I put myself in that person’s place.



8. What Book Should Everyone Read?


I don’t know I’ve got out of the habit of reading now because I can’t remember what I’m reading. I used to read a lot, I would go to the library and was always moaning because they didn’t change them. When I was 8-9 years old I loved all Enid Blyton.



9. What Activity Makes You Forget About Time?


It was reading, I used to read a lot to the point where my mum used to get cross with me: “you’ve got your nose stuck in a book, the world’s going by, you don’t even notice it”. I don’t know why I stopped.. because I read it, then I can’t remember what I’ve read. This is really cruel this Alzheimer’s thing. It’s taken so much of the things I love doing away from me.

They say you will be rewarded with something else, I can’t think of anything that has given me rewards yet, maybe I’m not far enough into this blimmin’ illness. Apparently you lose one thing but you gain something else as you get older, It could be anything, I’ve lost a lot, and I’m still waiting to gain. True to form, Nan started laughing at this point.



10. What is One Thing You Like About Yourself?


I honestly don’t know at the moment, I’m not in a very good place. I think…it’s not about myself, but when I look around, like when you kids come, and I see you, I feel highly honoured that you’ve taken the time to come and see me. It’s highly important that I see my grandkids. I know I’m losing my marbles but I still recognise family. When I do see you, I want to know all about how you’re doing.

My main thing is: are you happy with what you are doing? I think that’s very important for everybody. Whatever job you are in, if you are not happy doing it, get out of it. You’re a long time dead so do things that make you happy.



Bonus questions for Nan:


What is your advice to us in our 30s? What advice would you give yourself at our age (mine and my brother’s, 31 & 35)?


I think to me when you are late 20s early 30s, you are in a new era of your life, I think for each era you go through, you’ve got to improve on the last one and do your best to make it good. It doesn’t always just happen; you’ve got to do things to make it good. Sometimes it is a little thing like a kind word or visiting someone.

I think make the most of everything you’ve got and everybody you know, look for the good in everything, not the bad.

Life is not all a bowl of cherries. *pause* sometimes it’s full of pips (and she laughs).

You are at a really important age; you’re not middle aged, you’re not youthful. You are at a brilliant stage and I would say make the most of it, do whatever you can. Make the most by helping people around you, you can just talk to them, you don’t have to give them anything, just be there even if it’s on the end of a phone. You might ring someone and say something and trigger something good for them without even knowing.



If you know me or have been following me for some time, you will know most of what Nan has said, is the stuff I talk about regularly, that’s partly why this conversation has meant so much.

The thing is, I do believe everything happens and works out for a reason, I do believe we have to work at happiness and I do believe love is what it is all about in the end. But when that is coming from my Nan, it confirms it for me.

Life goes by in the blink of an eye. Not once did my Nan mention material things or the perfect job. Of course, those things play a role, but it’s certainly food for thought.

My Nan also shared that she had one goal: to make it to 80. Well done my Nan, you made it.

I love you.

Carly Diana xx


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