Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Goodbye Granny

It’s been months since my last post. I didn’t mean for it to be so long, but life kinda got ahead of me. My teaching schedule got a bit more hectic April through to June, making life a bit more hectic - but it was more money, so it was all good. :D

In April I booked a three week trip to Ireland and London for June. My mum’s Irish, so we were going to be spending two weeks with my Granny as well as uncles, aunts and cousins. Originally it was just going to be myself, my mum and my brother going, but Granny called at the end of April and said she’d really like to see my sister too, so she offered to pay for her ticket. It was all set, and we were really excited. It’d been 4 years since I’d last been back to see her and she’d had a few health scares over that time (obviously my mum goes back more often, as it‘s her mum!).

In the second week of May, after we’d bought all the tickets and were planning our shopping, packing, etc my mum got a phone call from my aunt to say that my Granny had been very confused, she wasn’t herself and that they’d taken her to hospital. The next day doctors discovered that she had tumours in her liver. She was given morphine to make her comfortable and the doctors said that she wouldn’t survive the night. But she did. And the next night. And the night after that, too. My poor mum was in an awful mess. My brothers and sisters were in the middle of exams and, from what the doctors were saying, she’d never make it over in time anyway. She really couldn’t decide whether to go back or not. In the end she decided that she wouldn’t, and my eldest aunt really reassured her in this by telling her that there really wasn’t any point. Granny wasn’t conscious, she wouldn’t even know that my mum was there if she did go. And moreover, Granny wouldn’t have wanted it. She wouldn’t have wanted my mum to ruin our holiday plans (because it would have) to go and see her when she wasn’t even conscious. So mum didn’t go.

Granny finally passed away, peacefully, in the early hours of Wednesday 24th of May. It still doesn’t seem real - she’s always been there so how can she not be now?

Two and a half weeks later we travelled out to Ireland. I was dreading going into Granny’s house for the first time and not seeing her there, but it wasn’t actually all that bad. My eldest aunt and her husband moved over from Scotland a few years ago to take care of Granny, so the house was rather different from the last time I’d been there, and none of us were immediately struck with the loss.

The day after we arrived was a Sunday and we had a bit of a family get-together. My younger aunt came with her kids, my uncle came with his wife and my other uncle (who lives next door) came up with his wife and kids too.

The most difficult day for me personally was the day when my mum and all her brothers and sisters went to the solicitors for the reading of the will. Left at home, in Granny’s house, were myself, my brother and sister and five of my cousins (aged between 19 and 9). We had a good dinner, washed up and had a good laugh. Granny would have loved it. Although her hearing wasn’t all that good anymore, she loved to sit and watch us - her grandchildren - spending time together. She loved watching us chat, laugh, fight, play, mess around, eat, drink and joke together. She would sit in her armchair in the sun and just watch us for hours. Just thinking about it tears me up, because she would have loved to watch us all that day.

When the parents all returned we had tea, homemade scones and plenty of goodies. Then somebody decided to take down the box of photographs and we all spent much of the evening pouring over them - laughing at some tragic fashions, trying to figure out who some people were, remembering and listening to stories that had been forgotten before. Again, Granny would have loved it. At one point, I went upstairs, into the guest bedroom that I was sharing with my mum and sister, and just sobbed. I missed my Granny and my Granddad. I miss sitting at the kitchen table having breakfast, with Granny serving up soft boiled eggs, homemade Irish soda bread, homemade jam and Irish breakfast tea from tea leaves, while Granddad and I chatted from opposite ends of the table, his blue eyes twinkling. Granddad died 13 years ago and I still miss him, and missing Granny only makes me miss him more.

Over the course of the rest of the holiday, my mum went through all the family photos - thousands of them. She sorted them out by era, and labelled the more obscure ones. Then my brother started to scan them onto the computer. He only got as far as the 70s after about 3 days work!

Here are some of my favourite old photos of Granny and Granddad (I know I’m biased, but weren’t they a beautiful couple?!):

This is their engagement photo.

Granny and Granddad cutting the cake on their wedding day.



Friday, April 22, 2011

When a rut becomes a manhole

For ages I've been saying that I'm stuck in a rut. A few months ago - around December time - that rut became a very deep, dark manhole. Since then I've not really been able to function. It was the beginning of March that I realised that there was something seriously wrong and that this was no ordinary stuck-in-a-rut scenario. Not even for me.

I was on the bus going into uni, that March day. It was a lovely sunny day, not too hot and not too cold. As I was going in I realised that this was the first time in two months that I had voluntarily left the house. For two months, I hadn't opened the shutters to my bedroom. I hadn't been able to sleep at night and I'd had serious difficulty getting up in the morning. Even when I was awake, I still coudn't be bothered to get up. I only did the absolute bare minimum necessary - teaching, chores for my mum and that's it. I spent the rest of the time in bed on my laptop reading crappy celebrity gossip blogs or asleep. I didn't even feel like watching any films or TV, or reading any books. I stopped my knitting and as for exercising - hah! When having a shower is an effort, forget working out. I also stopped reading blogs. With my life being such a dismal existence, I really didn't want to read about other people successfully getting on with their lives. Occasionally I'd read a post, but rarely could I find anything to say in a comment.

As I sat on that bus, passing some beautiful green fields, I realised that this was not normal. It wasn’t a normal down-in-the-dumps phase, and even if it were, it'd gone on for far too long. What did I do? Nothing. I don't know why, but it really didn't occur to me to go to the doctor, even though I knew that I was depressed. Somehow, by the grace of God, this depression has lifted, and now, a few weeks later, I'm starting to get my life back.

I'm not gonna lie - it's not like I realised I was depressed and suddenly chose to snap out of it, because it’s just not in my control. It's not even like it's decided to go away suddenly, because that’s just not how it works. It's taken a few weeks for it to gradually lift, and then I got some really, really good news not that long ago and it's made a world of a difference to me in terms of motivation. That, combined with my newfound ability to get out of bed and get off my arse and do things, has made me feel much better about myself and my life. Today I was dusting my telly and I realised: I'm happy. That's the first time that I've felt genuinely happy for longer than I can remember.

(And I wasn't happy because I was cleaning. I was happy because I am happy.)

It's amazing to me that today, a day that I had deliberately set aside to do nothing, was one in which I still chose to do stuff. I did a bit of baking, a bit of cleaning, and here I am now, writing this blog post - the first in 4 months.

So why didn’t I write about this before? Why didn’t I go to the doctor? Well, I think that a very big part of my problem is that I hate being negative. I hate other people thinking I'm less than fine. I know it's normal to get down from time to time, I just don't like to show it. It makes me feel like a failure. So I suppose it's no coincidence that the first time I get around to writing a blogpost in all this time is when I'm feeling happy again, and can talk about all the horrible stuff in the past. It's over. I'm happy. So obviously I'm not a failure. I know it's stupid - depression isn't anyone's fault. But when I couldn't even get out of bed in the morning I just felt like such a loser.