Yesterday marked the two year anniversary of my gran’s death.
She died on Friday the 13th 2009.
I was hoping to go home for the weekend but due to lack of funds and timetable clashes I had to stay at university. Even now it’s hard to process the fact that she is actually gone. Her decline in health and death were long and drawn out. She had been battling with alzheimer’s and various related illnesses for years. In fact I had not seen or spoken to her for at least three years before her death. I still feel incredibly guilty about this. But at the time, I didn’t have the courage to visit her in hospital or in the care home and see the strong, funny and unfailingly kind grandmother I had grown up with change into a frail old woman who could barely remember her children and partner let alone her grandchildren.
I love to hear stories of what she was like before I was born, before I knew her. My dad talks of her being a force to be reckoned with and the delight my papa took in tormenting her just for the sake of a giggle.
My memories are somewhat more sedate but I remember hot chicken soup, mini kitkats and bourbon creams from the biscuit tin (which was always made available during your visit) to the toffee hammer and tray which sat next to the fire place, whose lack of toffee always struck me as odd.
I remember the laughs we had about my dad’s graduation photo which hung proudly on the wall of her living room no matter what house she moved to. And the china figures. I remember dad buying a new one each christmas or birthday and seeing it dust free sitting on her shelves the next time we visited. Many of those figures now sit in our home, protected in memory.
I remember her neat writing in the chrsitmas cards every year. I remember the furry rug that sat in front of the fireplace, inviting me to sit and play. I remember going to Vogrie Country Park for long walks with her, my parents and uncle.
I look at what my life is now…where I am: 22 years old, a couple of months away from graduation and in almost all respects a grown up. And I wonder if she would be proud of me; would my graduation photo have hung in her livingroom too? A friend of mine remarked recently that he wished he had spent more time talking and listening to his grandparents when they were alive. That’s a truth which I now accept, if I had the chance again I would ask her everything and anything. I would have gone to the hospital and the care home, would have swallowed my stupid fear and said goodbye properly.
I am glad that in the end she was surrounded by people who loved her, in a familiar place. I’m glad my uncle performed the funeral service and showed courage and love in the way he spoke of her. I’m glad I got the chance to know her.