Tuesday, 10 November 2009

A Bereavement

All two or three of my long-time readers will recall my posts about my Dad and his idiosyncracies. Well, on Sunday he let loose with another zinger.

"Hey Dad! I missed your call?"
"Hey Aims! How are you? Good weekend?"
"Great thanks! Just been at a BBQ with pals."
"Oh lovely. Listen, Mum died last night. Do you want to come over for dinner?"

By Mum, he means my Grandmother, who I wrote about a while ago, after she broke her hip in a fall. She was 93.

All joking aside, this is very much The Family Way. We don't show emotion and we don't cry or, God forbid, talk about our feelings. Funnily enough I feel like I've been adopted at birth, because I love a good cry, and am always analysing things and talking about how I feel with friends. My mother just worries that my workplace will get mad because I'll be taking the day off to go to Grandma's funeral. At her own mother's funeral she watched my Aunt go to touch the coffin and break down in tears, so she refused to go. I was all, Mum, it's OKAY TO CRY. But, it's her way. And Dad and his brother are the same.

So getting to Grandma's house on Sunday and seeing Dad in tears for a wee bit was very hard. We sat around and looked at photo albums and cuttings that she'd collected, and I cried a bit over finding an envelope of my late Aunt's hair, collected at her first ever haircut. She died in her early 40's of cancer.

Our family on Dad's side is very small, with my Uncle and Aunt never marrying, and Dad only producing my sister and me. So the arrangements have fallen to Dad and my Uncle. Being men, they don't realise that neighbours WANT to come around and drop off food and stay for a natter and tell you about their stories with Grandma. That they are grieving too. So yesterday I took myself around there and got rid of all the "sick" things - her walker, the awful toilet chair contraption, her boxes of tissues and masses of pills. I made the house look like Grandma again and did a heck of a lot of cleaning. 93 year old eyes miss things. It was very cathartic. I found a prayer book belonging to my namesake, Grandma's mother, that had been presented to her "by the Church of England upon the occasion of her marriage, 1915." I found my Aunt's photos and slides of her travels in the 60's, where she looks like a fashion icon. I found photos of my Grandmother done up to the nines off to war-time dances and dinners. I felt like I had never known this person. The Grandma I knew wore trousers and jackets and awful sun hats and had a bit of a temper.

We're hosting a wake there after the funeral so I'll make sure everyone has a napkin and there's some nice music on and enough loo paper and all those things that simply don't occur to men. I'm going to display all the lovely old photos around the room so those who also met her later in her life can see what she was really like.

What was bizarre was me checking my messages this morning after a hectic weekend. First to come up was from Friday night, and it was from Grandma. She wanted to talk to someone "who was out there and living life. Someone young!" she said. I didn't even notice the missed call and rarely check my voicemail, preferring to just call the person back. But this time, I didn't. Am finding it very hard to come to terms with the sadness and disappointment in her voice. Mum says there's nothing I can do about it now and don't beat myself up.

Easier said than done.

1 comment:

Jen on the Edge said...

Aims, I am so sorry for your loss.

Sending hugs...