Joyce Cox graced the world with her presence on the 5th October, 1920. She was the daughter of Louis and Margaret Cox, the sister of Ken Cox, and I’m sure; a blessing to all.
Unfortunately, I don’t know much about my Grandma’s childhood, or teenage years. But here is what I do know;
I know that from a young age, Joyce worked in her own Grandmother’s shop, and then went onto work at a Laundrette. Both are roles that I can imagine she enjoyed, and was great at, as she always had time to lend a listening ear to anyone.
One evening in her teenage years, she attended a dance with her cousin Dorothy, and Dorothy’s boyfriend. As fate would have it Dorothy’s boyfriend bought a friend along to this dance, who Joyce clearly thought was a handsome and charming young man, as this man would later become my Grandad.
Harold and Joyce married on 17th December, 1938, in what I can only imagine was a magical day. My Grandad passed away when I was quite young, but I can remember there only ever being loving exchanges between them, even in their old age.
Knowing they spent many long, happy years in love with one another, gives me hope for my relationships.
After they were married, Joyce fell pregnant and gave birth to a baby girl; Julie. How happy and overwhelmed they must have been at this addition to their new family, but unfortunately, and very sadly, Julie died at 18 months old, from meningitis. Joyce went on to have my Uncle Michael, and my Dad… who she was a passionate, generous, strict, and loving mother to. Her sons were, by no doubt, the biggest blessing to her.
Aside from snippets of information, like all of the above, I’m ashamed to say that I really didn’t know that much about who Joyce was, before she was my Grandma. Words cannot express how devastated I feel that I only had 16 short years to spend with her, and in those 16 years, I never asked the questions I so wish I knew the answers to now…
What was her life like growing up back then?
Did she get along with her parents?
What was school like?
What was she like at school?
Did she have many boyfriends?
What was working like for her?
How did she cope with the war?
What did she think of our generation?
How did she get over the loss of her first child and only daughter?
What was her favourite colour?
And so, so much more.
Selfishly, as a child and as a teenager, my Grandma was just my Grandma in my eyes! It’s only as I got older I realised that her life was so much more than being my Grandmother, and her accomplishments more than just providing me with love and many, many happy memories.
My Grandma was my best friend. She cared for me, she saw only good in me, she praised me and built me up, she was patient with me, kind to me, and so very gentle natured.
Every trial and tribulation I faced, she would face with me, and reassure me that I was special, and loved. No one else could make me feel as loved as she did.
Grandma came to live with us in the last year of her life, something that was both a blessing and a curse. Unfortunately, the curse was that I saw her health deteriorate before my very eyes, whilst at the same time I was blessed to be seeing her every day. It was a very positive novelty for me to see my Grandma before and after school, and I remember when I got in the house, the first thing I would do would be to get a drink, go into her room, dump my bag, kick my shoes off, and just talk to her. But, again, rarely seizing the opportunity to find out more about her… she was so patient and willing to just listen to what I had to say.
I can’t beat myself up about this, because I know she wouldn’t have wanted me to. I know I was young, and I know it was an unintentional selfishness that most of us have when we are young.
I am so blessed to have known my Grandma, to have been loved by her. There is not a day that goes by where she is not in my mind, where it’s not painful how much I miss her.
I’m so proud that I had 2 very strong Grandmother figures in my life, that both fought the pain and devastation of losing children, but remained grounded, strong, positive, and loving women.
My Grandma has been the biggest influence in my life, and probably always will be.
If your Grandparents are still around, I’d encourage you to talk to them like they’re not your Grandparents for a while. Ask them questions, listen to them, treat them with the respect they deserve, and try to see past what I couldn’t: that they don’t exist solely to be your Grandparent.
There are smells, and visual ques (such as lavender, sweet peas, Christmas cake, antique mirrors, big buttons, flowery skirts, red cheeks…) that take me right back to being cuddled up on my Grandma’s lap in her lovely cosy home. It devastates me to know that in this life, I can’t be with her again. But, I am so lucky to have some of the happiest memories anyone could ever have, with this incredible, strong, loving woman.
Rest in Peace, my beautiful friend.