Thinking Your Way Through a Labyrinth of Contemporary Issues
Everyone has that special someone in their lives that makes that difference. For myself it was my grandmother. 28 years I had her in my life filled with all the magic and wonder that you could possibly have. In April 2018, my grandmother would be admitted to the hospital for the first time in her life under ill health. Little did she or the rest of her family know that she would never return, she would never see her house again or see here two little dog’s again. There would be no more trips with her to the seaside, to old villages and towns she could remember from her earlier days as a formidable young women who wanted to see as much of the country as she could. Perhaps and inevitably, one of the more difficult aspect’s of describing all of this is that I wanted more year’s with her.
In March 2018, a month before my grandmother’s death, we were sat in an old cinema watching the film based on Winston Churchill being Prime Minister during WW2 – Darkest hour. We had the popcorn, she had her tea and I was glad that she could relive her past. Both in respect of the film itself, after all she remembers Winston Churchill’s speeches during WW2. Secondly in respect of the fact we were in the old fashioned cinema, that she remembered from her younger day’s. Her walking wasn’t what it was in the past and a trip that would have taken me five minutes back to the car took us ten minutes. But who give’s a shit? These are the memories that matter.
My grandmother was responsible for raising me up from being a child, my mother was at work a lot while growing up. I spent many hours down at her house. I remember being tucked into bed regularly on a night as she would get me and my brother up for school. The history of the house had it all; we had rabbits that we kept in the hutch’s outside. There was a fishpond that was very big, there was a swing at the top of the garden that we would sit on, especially on a hot summer’s day. There were many cat’s we had, Jodie lasting the longest and passing away at around 16 years of age. There were the numerous bird’s we had, budgie’s in particular.
In the peak of all this there were four dog’s, Toby, Holly, Qwan and Penny. Toby ended up getting taken away by some other dog owner’s as he would regularly fight with Qwan. Holly unfortunately had heart rouble so she died a lot earlier than we expected. Qwan died of old age, he was around 15. Penny outlived them all she would live to be 19. I now know because my gran would literally hand feed Penny, this is why she lived to that age. There was the felting on the garden shed that I would re-attach every three year’s when it was getting weak, before I was too heavy to climb up there anymore. The house at my grandmother’s had so much history for me and in many way’s it’s very difficult not being able to see it now.
On my grandmother’s last ever birthday I took her out for three consecutive day’s to place’s she wanted to go to. This was and remains the most important thing I did. As she got older my grandmother realised that experience’s were what mattered in life and I made sure she could have as many of these as possible. I knew that these were the type of thing’s that she would appreciate and revisiting the places where she grew up were of increasing importance. She showed me the house she grew up in, the field’s that she would play in when she was a child.
The reason I will never forget when my grandmother passed away is because it was my last day at my former job. I had seen my grandmother that morning; she looked like she was making improvements in her health. We had bought her fan’s to cool herself down and a radio to listen to. I went to work saying goodbye to her knowing that I would see her again tomorrow. I went to work and finished at 10pm that night, I went to bed at around 11:30pm, to be woken at 1:00am to be told that my grandmother had passed away by my mother I must of said ‘You are joking’ several time’s. It would not sink in, what I was being told. I could not believe it. It was the worse news I have ever received in my life.
For day’s afterword’s I contemplated that someone would call me and tell me that she had been brought back to life. For some reason I was thinking that she will only be dead for so long and will come back to me and my family. The havoc that was my mind ensued and no amount of thinking about what had happened would let me accept that she was gone. Her two dog’s would still run in her house expecting to be greeted by her.
I had regret’s that I had not visited her as much as what I should of done, that I was an idiot and looked at my phone too often during my visit’s to see her. She had been in the hospital a month and appeared to be getting better, how could this happen? Maybe she should not of had the surgery that the doctor’s recommended. Maybe if I had gone to the hospital that night after work she would still be here. All the if’s and what’s take over your thinking and you cannot help wonder what you could of done to have kept her in this life. Regardless of anything, myself and my family had done a lot with her and the memories that were important were made outside the hospital. I know that holding her hand in hospital was one of the good memories that will stay with me.
My grandmother had sold the house years ago and she paid rent on the house, so when she passed on it fell straight into the hands of the renter’s. On the last day that there was opportunity to move item’s from the house me and my friend spent a lot of time moving the various ornament’s, plant’s, garden light’s from the back garden. My grandmother was obsessed with collecting butterfly ornament’s.
There was a ghostly feel to it when we had moved everything we could from her garden and brought it to my mother’s house. It was as though the house had been abandoned, the garden outside had overgrown plant’s in it, there were stone’s overturned from where we had moved item’s from the garden. There were little plant’s that had been damaged and were lopsided from where we had moved item’s from. As careful as we could be, me and my friend moved many heavy item’s from the garden and damage was inevitable. This was all very difficult to witness. The garden in which my grandmother had been so proud of was now a ghostly sight. I knew I wouldn’t be able to attach any more butterfly decoration’s to her garden fence, I knew that I wouldn’t be able to help her plant any more garden plant’s that she was so keen on. It was all very difficult knowing that I would be unlikely to ever see the garden again where I grew up as a child.
The funeral itself was incredibly difficult to stomach. Many of her friend’s and distant family sat in the house awaiting the funeral hearse car to arrive. We looked at the numerous pictures my mother had put up of my grandmother around the house. Me and a friend I had not seen in a along time sat on the chair’s outside. A blessing was that it was a very wonderful sunny day. The feeling when the hearse car pulls up outside your deceased relative’s house has no word’s that can describe the emotion’s at that time that are running through your head.
A short drive up to the church my grandmother visited on numerous occasions followed. Celine Dion’s My hear will go on was the song that greeted us at the Church. This was a challenge in itself, anyone who remembers the film Titanic will understand this. This was of course what my grandmother wanted. The Vicar was exceptional at putting us at ease and delivering some of the more funny aspects of my grandmother’s life, such as her ability to always say whatever was on her mind. The tribute in the Church was certainly a testament to how she had impacted on our lives and how much we would miss her.
The tribute was done and the ceremony was over, it was good to see so many people attend the funeral and following this we would have the final trip together to the crematorium It was a wonderful site seeing a workman stop what he was doing and put his hand’s behind his back and just bow his head while the hearse car passed him. I confess that in the past prior to having any experience of funeral’s I would be annoyed when hearse car’s would hold my up while I was driving, I would also be annoyed with all the other car’s that would be following behind it. This was a selfish view and I know more than ever that the people who are attending a funeral have enough on their mind as it is without them having to worry they are holding other people up. Regardless though we would arrive at the crematorium and say our final goodbye’s.
The coffin was laid out on a table along with the little note’s we had put on top of the coffin. There were a few final tributes from the Vicar. There was then silence before the song – Little Talk’s by Of Monster’s and Men was played. My grandmother would listen to this in the car when we were going to place’s and stated what a nice song it was. Up until this point I had managed to keep a clear albeit sad mind. The lyric’s felt like they punctured my heart, along with the fact that I knew how much she liked the song. The tear’s that had evaded me during this difficult time suddenly came into being and it felt right. The song ended and I kissed the casket coffin before leaving knowing the next time I would see my grandmother would be in ashes. Departing the room was difficult, especially the when the song I loved hearing was on repeat but it was necessary and our final goodbye’s had been and gone. This would be the start of a new life for me and my family and one we could begin with great memories of a woman who will be eternally be missed, but never forgotten. Goodbye grandmother.
Oliver Wilson, (2018)