On Friday my Grandma died. Grandma Barbie, Barbara.
It coincided with my mum, her daughter, being on the plane to Australia. A trip planned months ago and one we wondered whether she should even take. Hubby broke the news at the airport, something she had been expecting, then they called me. We talked and I vowed to wait up until she got here, after a two and a bit hour drive from Sydney.
When The Mothership arrived, around 1am, we embraced for a long time. Hubby left us to it and we made the calls back home to England. It was a time of emotional reasoning combined with an obvious sadness. Then in true Brit fashion we managed to laugh over some memories while having a cup of tea.
I especially enjoyed regaling about how I’d beg Barbara to tell me about when my mum and her sister, my Auntie Sue, were children. She’d gleefully spiel the same stories, mostly of how my Auntie completely terrorized my mum, sometimes with props like a false eye. I spoke about how, when I was a teenager, Grandma would let me have a small Baileys when I stayed over on a Saturday night. My parents had no idea but I guess that’s what made it more special to me. That and the obvious buzz.
THE NEXT DAY
I had Hubby and Mum in stitches when I retold the tale of how Barbie had picked me up from nursery and we were walking home through the arboretum. In that typically frustrating kid way, I decided to hide behind a huge tree and refused to come out while she desperately called my name.
She taught me how to play Gin Rummy and Solitaire with a pack of cards and we’d spend whole afternoons occupied in this way. Barbie introduced me to the old movies that were always shown on the telly on Saturday afternoons. I feel wonderfully nostalgic when I think of how we watched Cleopatra, Some Like It Hot and other classics.
Over the past few days I’ve been desperately trying to remember her house. One I’ve not stepped in for nearly ten years. Through my younger eyes I can recall many things but the adult in me is frustrated that some of the details aren’t clear. I’ve been feeling an all encompassing pull to revisit. To walk around the garden again. Maybe have the opportunity to take a photo of Little Man in the very same spot but with his grandma.
Unfortunately she had been sick for a long time with dementia and Alzheimer’s. I’ve tried to support The Mothership as much as I could over the past few years. Even though I wish I could have been there physically I’ve also somewhat shamefully admitted that I’m pleased my memories have been preserved too.
Today the full downside of being an ex-pat has hit me. My world here is the same, but my heart feels strange. I feel like everything and nothing has changed. More than ever, I want to go home. I’d like to see my family, I need the childhood familiarity. I want to see her one last time. I want my Grandma.