3 weeks ago, my Grandmother on my Mums side passed away. Grandma lived a full life – married 57 years, 3 kids, 6 grandchildren, and 3 (soon to be 5) great grandchildren. She moved from her lifelong home of North Carolina in her 20’s, to Trinidad where she had kids, then again to Australia where she settled in for a few decades. Grandma loved painting, travelling, wine, and playing sudoku daily. And like every fantastic grandparent, Grandma always had a jar of lollies or chocolates for her grandkids.
Grandma was also a listener. When I travelled to Europe and America the first time it was just Grandad, Grandma, and myself for 8 weeks. While Grandad would talk to other people – acquaintances, distant relatives, friends – Grandma would sit quietly and observe. Often we would find ourselves communicating nonverbally in regards to what was happening around us. When we travelled again and spent 3 weeks together, once again Grandma was there, listening, observing. Always an ear to listen and someone to share your feelings with without the feedback we often dread when discussing odd or difficult topics with older family members.
I think most of all, I wish I could have thanked my Grandma while she was alive for teaching me and showing me the importance of being quiet. And I wish I could’ve asked her more questions about her life. I’m aware she ended up in an orphanage when she was young due to her father being in World War 2. I know the story from Grandads perspective as to how they met, that she sewed the lace and beading onto her wedding dress, and that she was on bed rest for her pregnancy. After that, the next fact is 25 years later when she was the first visitor when my Mum gave birth. These are things I know of through other people as Grandma wasn’t much to tell tales unless asked, and unfortunately I never asked her directly – it was always coming from someone else.
I wish I could’ve asked her questions about her life circumstances. Knowing the facts of ones life can make us feel as though we know them, when really we don’t know the story from their perspective in detail. How they felt, the odd details or stories they remember surrounding certain events. The normalcy’s of then compared to now and just how bizarre they could be.
While life moves onwards, I’m beginning to feel stuck in time. I haven’t quite had the time to process everything – looking after 2 babies and my Mum while this goes on has been overriding. However things are starting to hit home, and I miss my Grandma. Thankfully no longer in pain, but deeply missed – and I wish I could have a conversation with her now.
– Caitlin –