When a loved one dies
I lost my Gran nearly 20 years ago. She was 84.
Her last place was a pretty little nursing home overlooking Torbay, but she didn't get to see much of it, sadly.
I don't know the cause of death, but the last time I saw her, she was fast asleep and was troubled by that horrible, slow breathing called Cheyne-Stokes; I knew she didn't have long.
Gran was an extraordinary lady. She was blind — glaucoma got her aged 30 — and practically deaf. But it didn't stop her having an opinion on most things nor being interested in life. Far from it. Sure, she was a bit limited in what she could do, and once her husband Peter died she knew that she'd have to go into a home but that didn't mean she gave up.
If I'm honest, I hated going to see her in the nursing home. It wasn't that it was any more awful than other homes I'd been to, but it was always the prospect of leaving her alone there for another night that I found deeply upsetting. If I've one regret, I didn't spend more time with her. Likewise all my grandparents. I could have learnt so much but, at the time, I just thought they were, 'old', and didn't have anything to tell me — what an arrogant young man I was.
Gran didn't make a will. There was no need: she had no money or assets but even so her daughter, Josie (Jo), still managed to give my brother and I a cheque each for £1,000. I suspect, knowing Gran, she'd been saving her pension which by the time she'd paid for her nursing fees meant she had about £20 left for the entire week.
I miss Gran. I miss her tenacity, wit, love for life and for never judging me, ever. I also have to remind myself that she brought three children into the world including my dad, my late uncle (he died from a brain tumour aged 44) and my auntie Jo, one of the best teachers I've ever known.
I wish I had a picture of Gran I could share. The only one I've got is with Peter which shows her holding a big bunch of flowers and their little dog, Fluffy, at their feet. Unfortunately, despite having had a few goes, it doesn't share very well. But if you were able to see Gran you'd see in her smile a zest for life that was (to me at least) all-consuming.
Love you, Gran.