Wednesday, September 14, 2011

A Ship Without A Sail

It has been a difficult week.

I recently wrote about my gorgeous Grandparents here and how grateful I am to have them in my life.

On Monday night I lost my beloved Grandmother.

I had popped in to visit them one evening last week. Their computer was playing up and Grandma couldn't access her e-mails. Computer troubles were an emergency in her world as e-mails were her lifeline to all her family members around the world.

I stayed for a chat and since it was time for "sevensies" I joined them for a glass of wine. Regardless of the time of day, it's always wine-o-clock at my Grandparent's house. They have eleven-sies, one-sies, five-sies and seven-sies etc. They were still on cloud 9 from our Fathers Day picnic the weekend before. They had had the best day. I mentioned I wanted to learn to crochet. Grandma said she had all the crochet needles so grab some wool and we'd get onto it. She gave me some of her old casserole dishes to take home. I was grateful to receive them but it still gave me a little pang in the chest at the thought they were giving away their items in preparation for the inevitable. They both walked me out onto the patio to say goodbye. That would be the last time I would ever see them together in their family home.

Two days later, I received a phone call that Grandma had suffered a stroke and was in hospital. I visited her that night with my 2 lovely cousins. The stroke was severe and had left her paralysed on her left side. It was devastating to see her like that. She kept her eyes closed but she was OK. She was chatty and sounded like her normal self. She is a stoic woman and a wee bit feisty. She is also cheeky, even in her final days. The nurses had asked her to squeeze her right hand tight to see if she had movement. She clenched her right hand, no problems. However, when they asked her to squeeze her left hand she took her right hand across and squeezed her left hand with her right and said "there, I squeezed my left!" See. Cheeky.

But she let her guard down as she talked about our Grandpa. She said how much she enjoys looking after him. That they always hold hands. That they hold hands and kiss each other every night. That they might have a little cuddle. Like they did when they were younger. That as soon as they wake up in the morning they hold hands again and have another little cuddle. By the time she said "I must admit I really do love him" the tears were streaming down our faces and onto her bed. We stroked her head and held her hand. It was very special. She told us to go home to our husbands and children.

I visited her again the next day with my daughter. We had another lovely chat. She was not too concerned with her condition. Fine one day and now this, she exclaimed. She said the nurses had been wonderful. Maybe she won't be able to walk again or go home but she still had her 'smarts' and would be OK somewhere with help.

On Sunday I visited her again. However, this time she was not responsive. I asked the nurse if this was normal. When will she wake up? But like a bolt of lightning I realised she would not be leaving the hospital. I started grieving from this moment on.

On Monday I thought I'd call the hospital first as I didn't want to see her like I had the day before. Too heartbreaking. But maybe she had come around, the nurses had said anything is possible. The outcome of Strokes are hard to predict.  But the nurse said she was still unresponsive. No change. I went to visit one last time anyway. I said my Goodbyes.

I got the call that night that she had gone. It was sooner than expected but I was relieved that she did not have to suffer in that condition any longer. It really was the kindest end for her and for my Grandfather.

Although the sadness catches me unawares throughout the day, it is bearable and I welcome it as a way to remember her and be grateful. It is simply a sadness at the loss of a beautiful 90 year old Grandmother who has lived a wonderful life surrounded by loving family and friends. For that I am truly grateful. The loss one must feel upon losing a parent, sibling or child unexpectedly or to illness or before their time would be an entirely different loss altogether. There is a big difference. This is bittersweet.

I feel blessed to have had her in my life. I'll be a little lost without her there in the wings. But it's OK. She has made me who I am today and the memories we share will stay with me forever. I am grateful that I was able to say goodbye and that I was able to spend so much time with her since moving to Sydney. I told her often how special she was to me and that I loved her so much. No regrets here. No unfinished business. I know I am very fortunate.

But as I mourn the loss, all my thoughts are with my Grandpa who has lost the love of his life. The thought of his pain is almost unbearable. They were to celebrate their 70th Wedding Anniversary in 12 weeks time. A cruel blow. Not that their 69 years and 9 months together is in any way diminished. They were childhood sweethearts and theirs is a love story unlike any other kind. Perhaps more on that another time. On Grandpa being asked how he feels: "Like A Ship Without A Sail", he says.

My sentiments exactly.


  1. Oh Mel, I'm so terribly sorry to hear this. My thoughts are with you and your family, especially your Grandfather.
    It still hurts to lose someone, at whatever age. I'm glad that you got to say goodbye. It does hurt to see our grandparents unwell- especially over such a short space of time. I lost my grandmother three years ago to dementia, and I hated visiting her in the nursing home. It felt so wrong. It was as you say heartbreaking to see her like that.
    So sorry again.

  2. Oh Mel, I am so sorry for your loss. She sounds like a remarkable women.

    My thoughts are with you, your family and your Grandfather.

    Take care xx

  3. I am truly sorry for your loss Mel. But what a beautiful tribute to your Grandmother. And thank you for finding the words to remind us to cherish those who are important to us. I'll be thinking of you and your Grandfather x

  4. So sorry to hear your sad news Mel. Your grandmother sounds like a wonderful lady and you've written a very touching post.

    My thoughts are with you and your family during this sad time.


  5. Mel, I am so sorry for your loss. Thank you for sharing this though - it is a beautiful tribute and I got goosebumps reading about your grandparents holding hands in the mornings and having a cuddle. We should all be so lucky to have a love that endures like that. My thoughts are with you and your lovely Grandpa - may he find strength in you all.

    Deb from home life simplified

  6. I am wiping away tears.

    Beautifully written.
    There is a reason why you came to Sydney, for this short period of time.

  7. Mel my heart goes out to you and your family. I hope the knowledge of what it is to be truely loved and all of the memories are some comfort to you all.

  8. XOXOX

    A candle has been lit and a prayer has been whispered for your AMAZING Grandma.
    much love, hugs and kisses to you and the your babies

  9. Oh Mel enormous warm hugs - so sorry for your loss, what an amazing love she shared with your grandpa and what a spirit! Your post is a beautiful and moving tribute, she will always be with you. Im thinking of you and your family especially your grandpa. Huge hugs xoxo

  10. Oh Mel. You darling girl. You know how much I *get* this right now. What a moving post. Sending you a huge Hobart ♥ tonight. J x

  11. Thank you so much for all of your very kind words. I'm just a beginner blogger and I am amazed that anyone even reads what I write let alone comments on my posts with such kindness. I am truly grateful and appreciative. This is an unexpected but wonderful aspect of blogging. Thank you!