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Thursday, June 09, 2005

My grandmother - my father's mother - died this afternoon. The doctor had called my mom and dad early in the day, to say that it seemed that she'd had a heart attack in the middle of the night. He'd said that he'd made her comfortable, with morphine and oxygen, and that he thought she probably wouldn't come round.

She didn't.

She was 92 ... a good age.

But I am overcome by how terribly sad it must be to die without family with you. To die without someone who truly loves you to hold your hand ...

My grandmother had two children; my aunt, in Canada, and my dad, in England. She had five grandchildren, and seven great-grandchildren, all scattered across the continents. And none of us were with her when she died. My dad and my aunt are flying to Cape Town on Saturday, to take care of all the arrangements. But what good is that,really - going to see her when she's already gone?

I am glad that my parents have just got back from spending a month in Cape Town, during which time they saw a lot of my grandmother. At least she had their time and company towards the end ...

I wish that I had been able to visit her this year. Last time I saw her was in June 2003. Two years ago, though it doesn't feel that long.

Some of my happiest childhood memories are of spending the weekend with my grandparents. Snuggling into the middle of their bed, between the two of them, as soon as we woke up in the morning. Sitting on the ktichen counter and stirring the cake batter. Taking turns with my brother to bang the gong (relic of my time that my grandfather served in India with the RAF) that signalled the start of Sunday lunch. The way my grandfather used to drain the swimming pool to a child's waist-depth, so that my brother and I could learn to swim without being afraid of the deep water (their pool didn't have a shallow end).

My grandparents did a wonderful job of letting us kids know that we were truly loved ... a much better job than they did with their own children, ironically enough. But perhaps it is easier to be a good grandparent than to be a good parent.

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