My Grandmother died a few days ago. She was 100 years old so we are being fairly philosophical about it – you can’t live forever, although it did seem, at times like she might. Her death has certainly not taken any of us by surprise, but that doesn’t take away from losing a much loved member of our family.
Here we all are nearly twenty years ago – she looked fairly old then! The four generations of women in our family. I haven’t got a recent photo whereby my daughter is 18 and I’m sitting on her lap because Nanna looked a little dishevelled towards the end and wouldn’t have thanked us for it:-
The major disadvantage of living so long is that there is going to be barely anyone at her funeral. All her friends have died and she has even outlived one of her three children. It’s going to be a very small affair but much buoyed by the arrival of some of her nieces and nephews from Canada. We are going to have to make a lot of noise to make up for it.
She was born in October, on Friday the 13th 1914 and died in June, also on Friday the 13th 2014. What are the odds of that happening?
She was the same year as FIRST WORLD WAR! How can that be?
Here she is as a little girl:-
She had dementia for a number of years leading up to her death and wasn’t able to recognise any of us any more – she used to introduce us to the staff as her hairdresser, or some random friend. However, as I mentioned in a previous post, when I took some old photos with me to show her a few weeks ago, she recognised every one of her family members, except herself. Perhaps that was of some comfort to her as she talked to invisible people and maybe has even gone off to see some of them now.
Imagine living that long. Such a shame that we failed to gather up her pearls of wisdom in time before she lost all her marbles. It would have been good to have been able to spend more time with her talking about her past. She was a woman of few words.
So how do I remember her? As an incredibly elegant and graceful woman, the ultimate wife to the archetypal Mad Man style Advertising husband. They had a big and busy life until they moved out of London and then what I remember is going to see them in their country house and picking beans and raspberries and eating sweets from a big jar. I remember her telling me they survived a bomb attack by hiding under the kitchen table and helping her with her flower arranging. She was still marching about in her 90’s and after the death of her husband she would take herself off to Canada regularly to see her other children, Grandchildren and Great Grandchildren. She lived fairly frugally and wasn’t a party animal – no drinking or smoking must have helped her live long and it can’t have been easy for her to end up in a home, but then again, owing to her dementia she was always exhausted having done a wealth of activities in her mind. We used to arrive and she’d say “look at my hands, I’ve been sailing all day, their practically raw! THEN do you know the people who live here wouldn’t let me bring my horse in after my ride this morning”. She was gallivanting her little socks off all from the comfort of her own bed. Perfect. Hopefully she still is.
Life and death are but phases of the same thing, the reverse and obverse of the same coin. Death is as necessary for man’s growth as life itself”
We will miss her. It’s the end of a generation and more.