Today I received some very sad news.
My paternal grandmother has passed away at the age of 81.
I can’t attend the funeral for a number of reasons.
- She is in the UK and I have let my passport lapse.
- Even if I had my passport, (which I may have been able to get quickly on compassionate grounds) a quick Google search of flights has made me realise that it just isn’t financially viable.
- Even though Hubbster is happy for me to go, and has told me to put it on the credit card and worry about it later, I’m not sure that I could cope with even a few days so far away from my babies. I feel the anxiety creeping into my chest just thinking about it.
As I hung out the washing on the line this afternoon as Foghorn and Bubble played happily in the cubby house my mind wandered to my childhood.
I thought about our visit to Granma’s the time my little sister sat on the kitchen floor as a 2 year old and ate the little brown o-shaped cat biscuits, until my poor horrified mother found her. I remembered how she would recount this story with a twinkle in her eye (and a cigarette in her mouth) to my sister whenever she saw her, much to her disgust and my utter delight and amusement.
I thought about seeing her the day we buried my father, 13 years ago, and how for the first time I could actually see the chinks in the brave-faced mask she always wore, when faced with burying the eldest of her eight children. There was a certain vulnerability, and softness about her that day.
I remembered the phone call I made to her shortly after the Woo was born, and how happy she was that I had given him the middle name ‘Alan’ after my Dad.
And then I smiled, as I pegged the last t-shirt on the line, as the memory of the last time I saw her returned to me.
It was August 2003, shortly before I left the UK for the last time, and we were sitting in the local pub. It was a beautiful old English country pub, that looked onto a duck pond and one of those gorgeous old red phone boxes.
As Hubbster and I drained the last of our drinks, said our goodbyes and got up to leave, although she was smiling, her eyes told a different story.
“Don’t forget,” she said to me putting down her double gin and tonic and taking a long drag on her rolly. “You’ve got my horrible old genes running around in you.”
I picked up the empty laundry basket and smiled through my tears as I listened to my children laughing in the cubby house, and realized that although she may be gone, a part of her lives on in all of us.