So a week ago today my grandfather (on my mom’s side) passed away quietly, but for me anyway, a little unexpectedly. He had been in hospital with a bad case of Shingles in January and had returned to his unit in Frail Care at the end of the month but hadn’t quite reverted to himself.He and my gran had been married well over 50 years and had met as children – I was always amazed he carried on so long without her. Cannot imagine losing my forever soulmate and being left alone. But he was a tough gentle giant and I think the will to fight left him in the end. I had had a debate with a colleague on the Monday about going to see him on Saturday afternoon or doing something for myself as ALL THREE boys would be out the house for the afternoon (a TRUE luxury in my world). I didn’t decide and Tuesday mornings news made the decision for me – neither.
So the week had started with a bang, and although I knew it was coming (he would have turned 89 next week) I am devastated. Your see my maternal grandparents were “my Person”s. My mom was 19 when she had me and my gran used to look after me quite a lot when I was a baby. When they moved to JHB a few years later we were fortunate that they were able to pay for airline tickets for us to come up from time to time during school holidays. And one year my parents drove up and we al went to the Kruger Park together (and this would be where my love of Fry’s Turkish Delight began – my grampa & I would wander to a little store each evening and consume one each on our way back to the cottage 🙂 ). I loved my grandparents and so enjoyed spending time with them. They spoilt us, entertained us, took us for ice-creams and shows, strung up Christmas cards each December (both being Scottish they still received a hoard of cards from overseas), made banana soldier sandwiches for lunch and played Junior scrabble with us. My gran made the best Christmas mince pies EVER and my grampa introduced me to Whisky and White Wine Spritzers, lists of pro’s and con’s when I had decisions to make.
When we had Max I wanted to honour my person and so poor Max, has a rather clumsy name as I chose William as his 2nd name after my grampa (at that stage Bjorn had said there would only be 1 baby! Oh little did he know…. ) When we found out the twins were boys the name hunt continued in earnest and again in honour of my grampa Alexander took on his 2nd name.
Sitting at the funeral yesterday and listening to people’s stories and reflections on this most amazing man I realised how lucky I am to have had such wonderful grandparents who were involved and interested in my life. It was a very emotional farewell on my part; said, haltingly through torrents of tears and deep breaths – and afterwards a few old ladies came by and told me how much my grandparents had spoken of my family to them, eagerly shared pictures I sent from across the globe – and how proud they were in general of their family. Because to me that was one thing my grandparents stood for – FAMILY
And as I try to mend my empty aching heart I wonder how will carry on this family value to our boys. Family was the main motivator to our move back to SA from Sweden just over 3 years ago. It was something we had worked hard at building with the family in Sweden but it just didn’t seem to come as naturally. How do we ensure our boys look out for each and BE good brothers – even in years to come? And how do we keep the greater family together – as cousins grow older and their lives take them on new paths …
This is, for us, the 3rd death in the family since August – and I don’t think the boys truly understand the finality of death. WE decided they would not attend the funeral this week as I think they are too young to be exposed to such sadness when they don’t understand. But how to explain the finality in a way they DO understand? Björn’s mom was different as she was very ill with Alzheimer’s and we had said “goodbye” to the person she was many years ago – and the move here meant she was not really “top of mind”. The 2 great-grandparents (what a privilege for them to have know TWO! such amazing people) are different though as they were part of our lives here and we did see them. We would take my gran (paternal) out for tea from time to time and the boys would entertain her with all their antics. My grampa was a more quiet bystander but we had lunches with him and family from time to time. Only time will tell …
So I have added to my new year’s non-resolutions – that I will spend more TIME with my boys and with my family.