Sunday, December 14, 2014

To My Grandmother, a Dedication.



The other week I went to visit my grandmother.

She was sick, she'd just moved into a nursing home after falling quite ill and spending a prolonged period of time in hospital.

My family and I sat around having a chat, we discussed our plans for Christmas and upcoming birthdays. My grandmother asked me about the manuscripts I am always writing, always hoping to publish.

Just yesterday my own mother called me, and somehow I knew what she was going to say because I'd been expecting the call - I'd been waiting for it for months.

My grandmother was eighty-three years old when she died. She was sixty when I was born. When she was younger she walked the runways in Sydney as a model. Later she met my grandfather and had four daughters. Her taste in clothing was impeccable, she looked like Audrey Hepburn in photographs.

I feel like I should be sadder, more downcast knowing that her life is now only our memories and our perceptions, not her own. But there is I think a lot of peace in the religious death.

I am not religious, but my grandmother was Catholic: She spent her whole life believing that death meant to go to heaven, to see her husband and parents and everyone else who disappeared along the way again.

There is some sadness in this event: There is the moment of 'missing' and the little ache in the chest that jars when you realise that you won't be able to have Christmas lunch with your grandmother, you won't ever be calling your mum to find her address so that you can send her a surprise letter or card for her birthday or just because.

No one's ever going to ask you, 'have you called your Grandmother?' again, because you are twenty-two and selfish and you keep forgetting that people like to hear from you - because without them you wouldn't exist. That is the sad part. But when I think of my grandmother dying, all I think of is her absolute staunch belief in the afterlife and the church and her education of that and I hope that there was not a shadow of doubt in her last moments.

Despite what I believe, or you believe or Bill Maher or the Pope believes - life can be really difficult and painful: After eighty-three years of doubt and hope and knowing you know nothing you can only pray that your last moments grant you the peace that comes with one of those brilliant mood-swings in which you believe, even if only for a few hours, that you 'know' at least one thing. 'I'm going to heaven', 'there is a god, he is good', 'I will see my husband again'. All humans deserve that: No matter what belief system we choose to follow we at least deserve a moment of calm and trust before death.