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By: Bethany Morrison

She sits alone in her old fashioned farmhouse in the 
depths of the Irish countryside. A typical Miss 
Havisham that Time had forgotten drawing deeply on 
her long menthol cigarette. Her bottled blonde hair 
is scraped off her face by a white hair band that I 
could easily believe was glued to her forehead 
because in all of the years I have known her I have 
never seen her without it, the rest of her hair 
that used to sweep down her back luxuriously now 
hangs with hair sprayed definition at her 
shoulders. Whether early in the morning or late at 
night her lips are a painted pink and her eyes are 
drowned in Elizabeth Arden's, 'Blue Magic' eye 
shadow. Mascara clots on her eye lashes like 
raindrops on a spider's web yet her face holds a 
radiance and beauty that shines through her 
flawless complexion. Expensive gold ear rings 
hang heavily from her ear lobes, rings adorn her 
fingers and gold bracelets dangle from her arms 
like shiny extensions of her wrinkled skin. When 
visitors enter the room she waves regally from her 
throne, the grand armchair in her living room and 
her jewellery clinks together like the sound of 
Christmas bells. As she motions them to sit down I 
am ordered to pour the respective gentleman or lady 
a stiff drink or cup of tea instructed to use only 
the finest cut glass or china teacup. A log of peat 
is then thrown on her open fire that is lit even on 
the hottest of days and the room becomes hazy from 
the billows of tobacco smoke rolling lazily through 
the nostrils of my grandmother as she gives me the 
teethy grin that she is renowned for in our family. 
She derives all of her education from the Daily 
Mail and Belfast Telegraph delivered to her door 
each morning in life. We talk politics and religion 
as she unearths the deep rooted prejudice of her 
generation; our debates are mostly centred on the 
way things were in her day and what a downward 
spiral the youth of today are caught up in. She 
tries to indoctrinate me with her old fashioned 
ideas of how women should accept their subordinate 
position in life under the rule of men and how in 
her day marriage was for life not for love. We 
talk for hours in her little room cluttered with 
expensive crockery and antique farmhouse equipment 
as I smother her talon shaped nails with, 
'passionate pink' polish to cover the tobacco 
stains underneath. Her jokes are mostly crude and 
her little colloquial sayings give me enough 
amusement to keep me coming back night after night. 
Her skin creases like an unironed shirt when she 
laughs and I have never known her to cry or admit 
defeat. She is my grandmother and her snobby
idiosyncrasies make her the most interesting and 
loveable person I know. 

Now she sits in a residential home in a spotlessly 
clean room with fashionable furniture and colourful 
carpets. Her nails are cut short by the nurses and 
her earrings and other pieces of jewellery have 
been deemed a health risk and sit rejected on the 
bedside table. She sits hunched on her chair, with 
none of her aristocratic airs and graces left to 
boast of. Her fingers twitch nervously in need of a 
cigarette and her freshly scrubbed cheeks look bare 
without makeup. She will live for many years but 
her spirit haunts the cracked tiles and threadbare 
rugs of the farmhouse where she existed outside of 
time and social law

(c)opyright 2002 by Bethany Morrison