It was Nanna’s funeral on Monday and already it feels such a long time ago. Sad to be saying a final goodbye, but it was a simple and sweet service, with a nice tribute from my uncle which included some lines from Desiderata. It finished with Louis Armstrong singing It’s a Wonderful World. My Grandad was a jazz pianist – he would have approved of that.
One of my Nanna’s best friends said that she was a special person, very positive, serene and calm with a wonderful sense of humour and that you never ever heard her raise her voice. It had never occurred to me before, but she’s right, I can’t remember ever hearing Nanna raise her voice or get angry or shout at anyone.
Though funerals are sad, it brought together members of the family who haven’t seen each other for a while and there’s nothing like a big silent bear hug to remind you who your loved ones truly are. Then there’s the little stories that come out, some are family stories you have heard before, some are memories shared amongst others that are new to you.
I found out that Nanna and Grandad got their first mortgage from the Temperance Society and every week a Temperance man would come round to collect the mortgage payment. All the kids were trained to hide any alchohol in the cupboard before they opened the door to him so they wouldn’t get into trouble!
I always remember the story about their first date – Grandad was in the Navy (submarines) and Nanna was in the WRENS. He wore his uniform and she was wearing a white angora sweater. By the end of the date, Grandad was wearing a fair bit of white angora himself – all over his uniform!
I am learning in practice what I always knew in theory – it’s this storehouse of memories that helps to ease the grief and get you through these early difficult days.
Adrian has been a tower of strength throughout this. He lost three grandparents in the space of 18 months when he was in his late teens, so he had a very harsh lesson in coming to terms with grief. He has been just amazing, he seems to know just what to say or do, whether to be practical, whether to give me a hug or whether to make a cup of tea. That in itself is a wonderful thing, but truly remarkable given the week he’s just had with his Dad. We spent a long night at Durham A&E last Tuesday after he fell in the bathroom and concussed himself severely enough to be kept in overnight.
Then about ten minutes before we arrived at the funeral, we had a call from the district nurse who was there to dress his wounds from the last fall. He fell on Sunday night and the nurse took one look at him on Monday morning and called an ambulance. So he’s back in hospital again, but to be honest, at the moment it’s probably the best place for him. There’s no doubt he was sent home too early – he must have had 6 or 7 pretty nasty falls since he got home.
We know that we are just in one of those time periods in our life when family life is difficult. There’s not much we can do about the situation, but we can do something about the way we handle it.
I will be honouring my Nanna’s memory if I can deal with life’s blows with the same serenity, calmness and humour that she managed all her life.