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Horrible Old Genes

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.

  1. She is in the UK and I have let my passport lapse.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.



Jolene enjoys writing, sharing and connecting with other like-minded women online – it also gives her the perfect excuse to ignore Mount-Washmore until it threatens to bury her family in an avalanche of Skylander T-shirts and Frozen Pyjama pants. (No one ever knows where the matching top is!) Likes: Reading, cooking, sketching, dancing (preferably with a Sav Blanc in one hand), social media, and sitting down on a toilet seat that one of her children hasn’t dripped, splashed or sprayed on. Dislikes: Writing pretentious crap about herself in online bio’s and refereeing arguments amongst her offspring.

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