Scary stories from a lovely place
A few weeks ago, on Thursday 24th May my paternal Grandma, Betty Mansfield, died aged 88. She had been pretty unwell for a few years, experiencing difficulty breathing, regular hospitalisation and lots of pain. In fact she had suffered with rheumatoid arthritis for most of her adult life, and so was no stranger to constant discomfort.
I haven’t quite known how to feel about it. Being out of the country for nearly four years will do that – it made me disconnected from everything, including my family. On Thursday of this week I went to her house with my parents. All of Grandma’s stuff was still there, her books, pictures and ornaments just the same as in all of my child and adult memories. It was a bit like she was still there too, just out of the room. But I knew she wouldn’t walk back into the room and join the conversation, and that made me feel very sad.
I have also felt really sad for my dad and aunt who lost their mum. And I have felt just full up with grief for my now widowed and nursing-home bound Grandfather. Grandma was his world. He loved her so much. While I was in South Africa Grandfather on occasion sent me a card or note with a short scrawl of greeting written inside. I say scrawl with no sense of belittling his words – they were beautiful and meaningful, but I think to him they were just quickly etched from the end of his pen. He has a way with words, my Grandfather, each one is well chosen and articulate.
My dad gave all of us grandchildren the opportunity to say something at the funeral. He and my aunt, my cousin Cressida and both my siblings spoke about Grandma. I prepared something, but in the end didn’t say it. Here’s what I wrote:
My Grandma was a very beautiful, glamorous woman. She had good taste in clothes, jewellery and especially shoes. Today I wore my fanciest shoes in honour of her. But Grandma’s qualities ran much deeper than her exterior. Something I admired most about Grandma was her friendships. Grandma had a lot of friends because she was a good friend. When I was a student in Wollongong and Grandma and Grandfather lived in Smith St I went to a few View Club meetings with Grandma. This is where I got to see her friendships close up. I was always impressed to see the same friends at different parties over the years – even at the anniversary party we had just a few weeks ago there were some of the same faces – like Pauline. I hope I can be the same sort of consistent and kind friend that Grandma was over the years to lots of different people.
Rest in peace, Grandma.
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