My mother called me yesterday to tell me that my Gran (her Mother) has had a stroke. I haven’t seen Gran in months, maybe even a full year now and the news was completely expected. Gran is 88 and has been ill for sometime now. She is a shadow of the person she used to be.
People die. It is the only thing that is certain to happen in your life; you will eventually die. My Gran will die and I have this cold, matter-of-fact, acceptance of this. The news did not inspire concern or worry in me. I didn’t think to myself, ‘I hope she is ok, I hope she pulls through’. I know that one day, one day soon, she will pass on after a long, hard life, and that her suffering will be at an end. She is blind, bored, lonely and I would imagine frustrated. My Gran was always such a strong lady. She raised eleven children by herself after her husband died when the youngest child was still a baby. She never remarried. This woman is an example of how one should lead their lives when faced with adversity. She never gave up, never threw in the towel, she did everything to keep her family together. I want to remember this woman I have such respect for as the strong character I knew in years gone by. I don’t want to see her as I know I will be effected by what I see. Is this selfish?
I do not think I will see my Gran before she dies. I have no plans to travel to Grimsby to see her as I know it will be painful for me. Am I right to put my concerns for me above those of others? What benefit would she get from my visit before her death? Sometimes I feel so cold and heartless that it makes me feel sick. Surely most ordinary people would be making plans to get to her bedside to see her before the inevitable, but not me. I wonder what this means? What effect this has on my personality. My biggest worry is my Mother. She has always been close to Granny, always. I know she is upset by this turn of events. I know she feels guilty because she lives away too. I know she will be wanting to get to see her Mother and I think that is entirely natural and expected. Should I go with her? Should I go to support her?
The extended family group is not one I am close to. In fact, I haven’t seen most of them for years and wouldn’t recognise many of the legion of cousins, half-cousins, second-cousins, spouses, uncles, aunts who make up the Mawer clan. I stand outside of that group and would be unable to share their grief. For that reason I do not want to be part of the impending tragedy. I would feel alien and awkward knowing that I do not share the depth of tragedy that they do.
I will go to the funeral – I’m talking as if she is already dead, and perhaps the woman I knew is already dead. The body is a vessel of consciousness. A shell, and at death it is an empty shell. The soul (if such a thing exists) is the sum total of a person, the body, frail as it is, will falter and fail. – I will go to pay my last respects and then I will commit this woman to memory. To my memories where she will remain for as long as I live.
I’m crying now. Big bad me is crying over this loss. I suppose this means it effects me more than I thought it did, or perhaps it is just the realisation that someone I loved has already gone. I have to stop. I love you, Gran, I will miss you, but I can’t see what has become of you now, lest it destroys the memories I have of you from when I was a boy.