Monday, 2 November 2009

Ebb and flow

About three weeks ago, my grandmother died. It happened while I was in Prague. She was 98 and had wanted to be dead pretty much ever since my granddad died 11 years ago. But there was never anything wrong enough with her to cause her to die. Then, earlier this year, she had a fall in which she injured her eye on her walking frame. She lost the sight in that eye which, along with her deteriorating balance, led to further falls. She never broke anything, but each one left her more confused, more disorientated. Just that little bit more uncertain. She also got infections which kept needing antibiotics and hospital treatment.

After the eye incident, which happened around May, she moved into a home. I only saw her there once, as I was moving house and a couple of weeks before she died. She seemed happy there. It was a beautiful house and she had a large, airy room, with many things in it that made it her own. We left her with a picture of my sister at graduation and a music box I had bought her in Austria which had been forgotten in the move. She seemed happy there, she knew who we were and who she was. I wish she could have died there.

The previous weekend, I had visited her in hospital, and the contrast couldn't have been more heartbreaking. She hadn't known where she was, who she was, who I was or what was happening. I wasn't sure she could even see me. I had to leave her bedside for a few minutes to go away and cry. She was so much worse than the last time I'd visited, it was devastating.

But that last time I saw her, she was herself again and even though, despite what I wished for her, she ended in hospital, I hope she managed to hang on to that as she went in.

The funeral was last Thursday and came the day after the funeral of a colleague at work who died of prostate cancer. I didn't know him particularly well but went to the funeral. He had always been friendly towards me and had helped me out with several stories. We were allowed out of the office for the afternoon, I had the day off work to go to Nana's funeral. It was odd. There was a lot of traffic on the motorway. I always wonder at times like that where are all these people going? I can explain the lorries, they're freighting, but the cars? What are they doing? The traffic was worse on the way back, especially around Milton Keynes, but I was leaving at about 5pm. Two funerals in two days made me think. I know death is all around us all the time. But on the way there, I couldn't help thinking "How many of these people are also going to funerals?"

No comments: