Nothing is certain but death and taxes — that’s how the age old adage goes isn’t it?
It’s a pretty bleak proverb but never a truer word was spoken, that’s for sure.
We lost my nana this weekend. She passed away at around 6am on Saturday morning. She would have been 94 exactly a month today so it’s not wholly unsurprising that she’s gone but I still feel so very sad about it.
That said, I will admit to feeling much sadder about my grandad’s death. Even though he was the same age — almost 93 when he died — it really wasn’t his time.
28th May 2011.
Etched in my memory because this is also the date that my beautiful boy and I celebrate getting together. It was the day that we started going out with each other, nearly 20 years ago and we have celebrated it ever since.
And now it has another poignant meaning. It’s the day my grandad — the man my first born son is named after — passed away.
He’d broken his collarbone whilst trying to lift a fence panel that had blown over in the wind, ended up in hospital and was moved to a ward that had had an outbreak of Norovirus.
The rest, as they say, is history.
I was devastated. My amazing, blue eyed, grandpa — who’d been sent to North Africa in the 2nd World War. The furthest he would ever travel, it turned out.
His death was all wrong. He wasn’t ill — he was the most sprightly OAP I’ve ever come across — with a lightening quick mind and all his faculties. It was a terrible twist of fate that he’d ended up in in the UK’s most notorious hospital — Stafford — just after an outbreak of a virus, that ended up killing him.
And the thing that I just couldn’t come to terms with was the fact that my nana — the woman he’d been married to for 66 years — the love of his life, was left alone. Without her husband. I cried buckets about it. It was just so sad.
My nana’s passing is just so different.
Although she’s been ill, on and off, for a year now, she wasn’t gravely ill. She was still chatty and ‘with it’. She didn’t really go into a steep decline until just over a week ago, when the doctor ordered a syringe driver. A palliative care device, giving a shot of morphine every time her pain levels became too severe. And once that’s in place, as my mum sagely noted, it marks the beginning of the end.
Which it did.
When my mum called on Saturday to say that nan had gone, I felt a strange mix of emotions. I felt great sadness that my single, remaining grandparent had gone. Anger that I wasn’t going to see her again. Sympathy for my mum, who’d just lost her own mother (both her parents, now, in fact). And I felt relief that my nana’s suffering was over. In more sense that one. Her pain was gone and her loneliness — without her beloved Bert — went with it.
She’d had such an amazing life. The best part of a century, living through times that we’ll (hopefully) never see in this country again.
She’d been ‘in service’. A real life maid from real life ‘Upstairs Downstairs’; working in a big house, for people born into a life so different from her own.
In the war she joined the WAAF — the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force — something that she spoke about with great fondness and pride.
The things she’s seen over the years are extraordinary. And she was my nana. How lucky was I to have such a brilliant and interesting relative? For so long too.
But now she’s gone.
This could be seen as a tragic tale but I’ll leave you with a little something that happened yesterday. Something that left me with an enormous grin on my face.
My mum and auntie went to the funeral director’s in the morning to make the funeral arrangements. They chatted about the service, the flowers, whether they should have pallbearers or not. And upon discussing the date, the options given were Thursday or Friday of next week.
My mum and auntie both agreed that Thursday would probably suit everyone the best so the gentleman went to get the diary, to make a note of it.
Upon his return he said to my mum, ‘OK. All booked in then, Next Thursday, the 28th May.’
To say that this is a coincidence doesn’t quite do it justice. If I was asking for a little sign that my lovely nan and grandad are back together, this is most surely it. Saying goodbye to nan on the exact day that we lost my grandad is absolutely poetic.
And given it’s the day that my boy and I celebrate our own union — our own love-story — makes me so happy. A tiny miracle if you will. My nan is now back with my grandad and all is well.
Rest in peace xxxx