My grandmother died feeling alone, crushed and unappreciated. When I saw her in the hospital she was so little. Her picture in my mind was enormous and her imprint on my heart was permanent. She was days of buttery toast, terrible day time soaps, trips to the post office and simple pleasures. Yet when I first visited her in the hospital, with bedcovers the colour of mildew, she had been transformed.
She was transfigured from a large and happy woman – the life of the party, the first with a joke – to a small and feeble woman, who couldn’t or wouldn’t eat. She died at home, during an afternoon nap – a trademark of hers that I didn’t understand when I was younger, but now often have myself. She had put the washing on, her tea cup was resting on the table and she was suddenly gone. Her tea would never be made just the way she liked it again, and she would never hang out that washing.
My granny was someone that rescued me. When I was young and felt alone, or simply needed to know the volume of love that was available to me, I would visit her, eat cheese on toast and feel comforted. She was supportive, non-judgemental and caring. When things were bad at home and I ran away, her door was the only one I ran to. It opened and her arms opened to welcome and console me. I can still hear the way she said my name, as though it were something inspiring, comforting and fitted just right inside her mouth.
I felt when she was sick like I had failed. She had rescued me from my heartache, heartbreak, feelings of loneliness and disempowerment and I could do nothing to help her. She had stopped eating, and the doctors couldn’t find a cause for it. Her mother had done the same thing to escape her situation. I wish that I had picked her up and run away with her. I wish I had taken her to a place of only great old 50s music, laughter and unlimited cigarettes.
I wish that she knew how much I have to thank her for, and how much better the world was with her in it.