A week before Christmas, one of my two remaining grandparents passed away in her sleep … it wasn’t expected and she certainly hadn’t been noticeably ill at any point leading up to it.  There was a phrase that I kept hearing people say and although meaning it well, the phrase “it’s not a good time of year for that to happen” began to wear a bit thin.  Surely there isn’t any “good time” for a relative to pass away?

We managed to get through the funeral and all the fallout from that only to find my other grandparent, now the only remaining one, in hospital and not making much sense two days before Christmas.  Tests were ran, various samples taken and an eye kept on her and slowly she improved enough to be let home with just the need for a few visits from carers and other medical aides … surely a sign that things were looking up and she was getting better I thought.  That small glimmer of hopefulness soon faded as she lasted only three weeks at home and is now back in a ward at the Mater hospital in Belfast.

It’s been a long time since a close relative has passed away or been in hospital ill, but it’s one of the hardest things to see someone who up until a couple of years ago, was so full of life and completely independent, now so frail, fragile and unable to do the simplest of tasks.  It’s so hard to see where the positives are going to come from and to see my granny in the state that she currently is in, doesn’t provide much hope of her returning home any time soon.

This is the (now) 89-year old woman:

  • who looked after me and my brother for years during the summer holidays
  • who grew and cultivated her own fruit and vegetables in her side garden
  • who made toast by cooking over an open fire on a fork instead of using a toaster because “it tasted better”
  • who always had a bottle of Lucozade sitting in the kitchen when I came to visit because I needed “building up”
  • who would bake buns every Tuesday and cakes every Thursday … like clockwork
  • who would be up at 6am every day to clean out the fire and get the vegetables prepared for the evening’s dinner
  • who could be found dragging a hoover upstairs to keep the place tidy
  • who obviously didn’t know the meaning of the word “rest”
  • who I always describe to people as the stereotypical granny … just about 5ft tall, white curly hair, always rocks a dress and cardigan combo, and would do absolutely anything you asked her to do … and then some more.

Medically she may have a weak heart but I don’t think there is any doubt that she is an incredible person who I learned a lot from and continue to learn from.  Unfortunately at the minute I seem to be learning the harsh reality that the only certain thing in life is that we all get older, weaker, more helpless and have to rely on others to help us through … that’s the toughest lesson to learn.

SK

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