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.




  1. I am so sorry for your loss! Your grandparents were such an attractive couple. i lost my grandpa 2 years ago and I remember going home for the funeral and being alone in his house. At first i was really uncomfortable and then I started to look through books and pull them off the shelf - and i discovered he had wrote a sentence in each book giving his thoughts on the book. And I felt close to him. I still have moments where I broke down and it sort of felt 'wrong' to be there and not see him in his recliner. But it has gotten easier as the years have passed.

    Losing a grandparents is so tough - especially when they pass so swiftly as was the case for you... I am glad you got a chance to be together with family and look through photos as moments like that really keep the spirit of your grandparents alive!

  2. Sorry for your loss Sarah. I am so fortunate to still have all four of my grandparents alive but I lost my great-grandma last summer which was really hard as she was kind of the glue that held all my extended family together. I still miss her from time to time and when I think about her not being around at family gatherings or Christmas it makes me really sad.

    It always gives me comfort to remember she lived a long and happy life.