To My Nana: On Your Centennial


Dear Nana,

Eight years ago you decided that you were too tired to carry on, and so you shut your eyes for the last time when you were 92 years young. You’d had a long, interesting and often tragic life, and it was your time to go. I was too poorly to travel all that way to be at your funeral, but I hope that you were somewhere knowing that I was holding my own candlelit vigil. I found my own way to observe the day your body was disposed of as your spirit soared and you spread your wings – free of all earthly restraints.

I still remember the day you passed away. My brother-in-law had to call me because my sister was too upset to talk. That night, I dreamed that the phone rang, and when I picked up to see who was calling me it was you, with your chirpy Welsh accent. “Hello love; it took me a long time to finish the journey, but I wanted you to know that I got here safely”. That is exactly what you always used to do in life – call me to let me know you were okay. I still like to think it happened, and that you contacted me. You always believed that there was something beyond our earthbound existence, and I’m sure you found it when it was your turn.

You taught me so much; you taught me to love birds, gardening, conservation, nature. You taught me what it means to be a good person. I remember those afternoons where we’d be baking, or shelling peas, or removing the stringy part from runner beans together. You even stopped cooking rhubarb crumble because I found it so horrible (the rhubarb, not your cooking). We’d spend evenings together in that huge kitchen, polishing the brass or silver, or just chatting while you did the ironing on a Sunday, with my dog Rex curled up in his armchair.

When I became an adult our relationship was still just as strong. We’d regularly meet for lunch and a chat – you and me, putting the world to rights. You always had the mushroom omelette, and I had whatever that chicken dish was. I really can’t rememeber the name of it now. And I would always finish off with a plate of pancakes.

You understood that I’m “different” (autistic) and learned to read my mood and take it in your stride. You never once gave up on me or took offense if my mood wasn’t the best: busy times at the cafe could do that to me and you were aware.

I saw you again two years ago, when I almost died in ICU. I came back because you told me to, but I still felt your presense around me as I was recovering. You were there – I’m sure of it – and you never left me. Not even once you knew I was out of danger.

I’m sad that you didn’t live to see my marriage to the man who you thought was perfect for me. I’m sad that I will never see you in this life again. But I’m not sad that you were my grandmother during your time on earth. I could not possibly have asked for a better grandparent.

I’m happy that, in life, you knew love and gave love. I’m happy that your soul knew to fly when you closed your eyes for the last time.

I love you Nan. Happy 100th birthday.


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