A letter to my grandmother

>> Tuesday, 21 November 2017

Dear Nana,

yesterday lunchtime we got the call that you had passed on.

It wasn't unexpected and yet, it was.  You'd beaten the odds a number of times to reach one hundred and four; in your fifties when you had a cancerous kidney removed; in your sixties when you had a double mastectomy after the early discovery of the same growths that had taken your mother and sister; most recently of all last week, when you had an operation to pin your hip back together after a fall.  So whilst it was obvious that you couldn't live for ever, I suspect that most of the people who knew you wondered if, actually, you might.

The pneumonia that probably caused your heart to stop was clearly in evidence when my mother and I visited you yesterday morning, and you were weary, oh, so weary, but dressed neatly as ever you sat in your high-backed arm-chair, gently stroking the soft grey lacy blanket that I bought you from a snow-bound Russian market six years ago.  The same blanket which, at the time of giving, you dismissed as being for an old person.  When you were ninety-eight.

'She loves that blanket', my mother told me.  'It's her favourite.'  Raising her voice, in the hope that you could hear; 'That blanket was made by Russian babushkas, Mum!'

You nodded, vaguely.  I can only imagine what it must have been like to be distanced from the world by your failing hearing, as if trapped in a thick cardboard box invisible to everyone except yourself.

The nurse who had dressed you that morning came in to say hello.  'She's an angel,' you said, the pneumonia rattling threateningly in your chest.  Mum and I agreed, thankful that such people exist.

'I'm glad she's up.'  Mum said to me.  'It's better for her chest that way.  And G (my uncle) was only saying yesterday, after he visited, that they should get her out of bed.  I'll have to tell him that they have done.'

'Tell you what; I'll take a photo, so that you can send it on to him.'  (It's on my phone now, Nana.  Always a little vain, disliking the marks of time, you would hate it.  I shall treasure it.)

We chatted to you for about an hour, not sure how much you heard and how much you deciphered or simply ignored.  We talked to you about my mother's recent holiday and your great-grandchildren; when I showed you pictures of my boys - fourteen and eleven now, how did that happen? - you smiled at my oldest, grinning cheekily up at you from the screen.

'Saucy', you said, pointing at the photo.  'Lovely boys'.

'Yes, Nana.  They take after your side of the family.'

My mother snorted and told me I was being smooth, but I could tell you appreciated the compliment.  Your family always was the apple of your eye, especially - as a product of your time - the boys.

You leaned forward a little in your chair, and gestured at my mother.  'She's beautiful.'

My eyes filled with tears at the sound of the pneumonic gurgle in your voice; it was clearly an effort for you to speak.  'She is, Nana.'

Mum shifted in her chair, uncertain at the unexpected compliment.  'She was talking about you.'

'No, Mum.  She was talking about you.'

Time came for us to leave, and my mother stood. 'Goodbye, Mum.  I'll see you tomorrow.'

'Goodbye, darlin'.'

We gathered up our coats and bags and I kissed you on the forehead, careful to avoid knocking your chair and your painful hip.  'Bye, Nana.  I'll come back and see you next week.'

You nodded.  'Sleep.'

Mum rearranged the cushion behind your head, and pulled the babushka-crocheted blanket up around you.  'You have a rest.  I'll see you tomorrow.'

'I love you all.'

We stopped, startled.  Such a statement wasn't entirely out of character, but it wasn't common.  I kissed you again, making sure you had a supply of tissues within reach, and as I left I turned and waved at you, sitting small and pale in the corner of the room.

You waved back.


Goodbye, Nana.  I love you too.

0 comments:

Post a Comment

Go on - you know you want to...

  © Blogger template Simple n' Sweet by Ourblogtemplates.com 2009

Customised by Grayson Technology

Back to TOP