Sunday, February 28, 2010

In the midst of honking horns, gleeful shouts, a fairytale ending to two weeks of olympic games-
A sobering email comes in.
It's from my aunt in England. It's titled simply, Mother. It can only mean one thing.
My grandmother, my mother's mother. Gladys Dennis. Grandmee is dead, at the staggering age of 103.
Bon writes so tenderly in this post about caring for her grandfather as he nears the end of his life in a hospital bed. I am bowled over by her love for him. I am so sad that I have never felt anything like this for my own grandparents.
My relationship with her was a casualty of distance and dementia. She lived in England. I live in Canada. When she did live with us, for 5 years, her mind was still ok but her body was failing her. She was the sick lady in the guest bedroom. Then as her body got better, my parents split up and she went back to the UK and lost her memory. My aunt would go upstairs to work and Gran would forget that she was still there and call the police and say she'd been abandoned. She went into a home and survived, as tiny and frail as a bird, long after her sense of self had flown.
When she saw you, her face would light up and she'd say "Hello, Lovely!" Even though she didn't really know who you were she knew you were someone she loved.
She couldn't remember what happened fifteen minutes ago, but she could sing the lyrics to wartime pop songs and seeing Hitler's face in a documentary could still inspire pure terror in her.
Her house was bombed to the ground in World War Two.
She survived on her own after her husband Fred Dennis died of emphysema when my mom was 19.
She was born in 1906. Nineteen-oh-six. Can you imagine the things she saw, the changes she lived through?
I wish I'd known her better. I wish I'd appreciated her more when she was with us. I wish so much of my family wasn't so far away.
Rest in peace, Grandma.

No comments: