Thursday, 29 August 2013

Granny Gibb.

I have kept this blog review-based for some time now. That's for two reasons. One, on the previous occasions when I have tried to keep a writing blog it's just not been enough to keep me motivated to write something every day, or even to keep up with it at all. Two, I'm not egotistical enough to think that people are bothered about my day to day activities. Oh, I've had one or two rambling rants (one about gun control laws and one about cinema etiquette), but nothing much about major events in my life that weren't movies or shows.

Writing being as cathartic as it is, however, means that a post like this was pretty much inevitable. I was woken just after eight this morning by the sad news that my gran had died. As a happy and secure atheist, I don't want prayers or candles lit. I'm not after sympathy. This is a mix of elegy and celebration.

Because my gran spent the last couple of years in a bit of a bad way. She'd had a fall that broke her hip and that had led her to a position of no longer being self-sufficient. As she spent more and more time in a weakened and fragile state, her mind would fade away, to come back every now and again as sharp as it once was. You could tell how angry and frustrated she would get, not least from how she would lash out sometimes at those family members. giving her full-time care.

So, as the cliche goes, she's in a better place now. A place where she doesn't need painkillers, doesn't need to drink her tea from a sippy cup, doesn't need to worry about strange visions that her mind has created that put her on edge and afraid.

Yet, she's not REALLY in a better place. She's in the same place. She's in our hearts, she's in our thoughts, she's in our memories. I don't believe in Heaven or Hell (though I still spell both with capital letters at the start), I believe in energy transforming. Perhaps the warbly singing voice of my gran (a sound so well captured in the classic show, An Audience With Billy Connolly) is now a birdsong. Perhaps some of her grey hair will become the stuff of dandelion weeds, blown away by kids making wishes.

But those are different places, Kevin, so your writing makes no sense.

Aha, but my gran has been the legendary matriarch of our family for years now and we have at least 101 stories we can tell about her. That's her place. That was her place while alive and among us all, and that will be her place forever. I have my favourites, as do her children, as do my cousins, as do friends that got to know her over the years.

Leaving my grandfather hanging from a wire fence, caught by his false leg after a late night of drinking.

Pouring extra whisky into the last drink of the night that my great granny (looked after by my gran for many years) would have before her bed, making her stagger alongside an unwitting 8-year-old me as I helped her to bed.

The pot of soup always boiling away on the hob, stuff so tasty that some of my schoolfriends would badger me until we headed there during school lunch break to queue up and get a bowl. While my gran acted inconvenienced for a minute or two before then grinning with pride.

There are many more. Too many to ever fit on a blog, methinks, and . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . even if they could all be put into text form and archived and put online for all to see . . . . . . . . . . . . . well, I'm not sure that we'd want that. These are the stories about my gran that liven up as we tell them to others. Aunties and uncles talking to me, grandparents talking to toddlers, cousins talking to cousins.

The irony of writing about my gran's passing on this blog is that her life, and the events she lived through, reminds me that human contact and the traditions of oral storytelling are, and will always be, much more valuable to so many people, in a very different way, than the internet could ever manage.

Photo courtesy of Emma Kidd, which I'm sure she wouldn't mind me pinching.

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