Michele Hanson – marvellous columnist in the Guardian – died last week. Today, for International Women’s Day, I need to write about what she meant to me.
For me, coming from a two-generation female home, it was refreshing to read about the three generations of women living under Michele’s roof. The weekly tales of her life with her mother and her daughter, and the dogs, were quite ordinary. In many cases what Michele wrote about could be almost anybody’s life, and that’s what made it so real, so eye-opening.
I too held those opinions. I just needed someone else to show them to me.
Mostly, Michele’s daughter was a teenager to me. I was a bit enraged when she grew up and left home, but it’s what children do. And then it was Michele and her mother. And the dogs. They argued, and we worried about her mother’s health, but she hung on for a long time, and I was sad when she died.
Then, for financial reasons, for a long time we didn’t buy the Guardian every day, and it was hit and miss what I’d be able to read on the days when we did get the paper. More recently, the Resident IT Consultant came home with a Tuesday Guardian, and I was so very happy to be back, reading about Michele’s life. I told him that if he only got one weekday Guardian, it had better be the day of Michele’s column. Because it made me feel good.
And also a bit unwell. I didn’t know that I ought to be concerned for my old age, until reading about Michele and her friends, worrying about hospital visits and GPs, and old age. It made me realise life wouldn’t always be mundanely middle-aged.
It was only going to get worse.
Michele was 75 when she died. Far too young. But it seemed so fitting that she had walked her dogs last Thursday, before having the stroke that killed her. No care home for her, and no pole dancers.