My Nan

My Nan is dying.  She has metastatic colon cancer with liver lesions.  My Great Grandmother died from the same disease.

10 weeks ago she moved from her beloved Fulham to a nursing home which specialises in palliative care.  As a family we are happy with the home.  I must confess, I haven’t visited her.  Am I an awful grandaughter for not doing so?   My Dad is visiting everyday and he tells me she’s not talking or acknowledging him now.  My Mum has recently had spinal surgery and cannot manage the car journey with him at this time.  I feel guilty that my Dad has to go through this alone {he’s an only child and doesn’t have a sibling for support} and I speak to him after visits to make sure 1) he’s ok and 2) he’s asked the nurses the right questions.  I am using the “I’m too busy with Work/ Children/ Christmas” excuses, but I think he knows I just don’t want to see her.  Death is distressing.  I see it everyday at work, but yet I hope I make a difference to the person who is passing and am able to offer support and bring comfort to their family left behind.  And this is what I expect from the nursing home.

I want to visit her, to see her, to say Goodbye to her,  but my memory has already changed over the last 5 years, since she was diagnosed.  She was very active and independent previously.  We hardly ever saw her because she was too busy!  After her diagnosis and subsequent chemotherapy treatments, she required a carer and cleaner.  My parents food shopped for her,  and she never managed to get  the bus to Putney High Street  or go to a bingo evening again.  I would visit her and  if  the Things were with me, it would determine how long the visit would last {it was often much shorter}.  She enjoys being a Great Grandmother, she likes to be  called GG, but her tiredness and pain proved too much and her tolerance  of the children and even of me was shortened.

The last time I saw my Nan, she was yellow {the jaundice}, had grey hair {yes I know she’s in her eighties but I believe she would be most distressed if she actually knew!} and she was rude  {she always has been,  but was more polite around us previously}.  Growing up, I remember  my Nan was much cooler than the other Nans!  My nan always had matching lip stick and nail varnish.  She always wore heels.  She dyed her hair blonde and had a face lift in the ’80’s.  During school holidays, she took us {my sister and I } to the cinema {Fulham Road, Kings Road or Putney}, pizza express lunches , walks through Bishop Park and boat rides to Kew Gardens .  I would listen to her blitz stories with the greatest interest and now re-tell these stories to the Things every time we  go past a story landmark.  These are the memories of  her I want to keep.

And so I feel comfortable with my decision and I will not see her again.  The Things ask about seeing GG in her new home, but I don’t want them to remeber her how I remember my great grandmother.  My sister and I used to call her White Nanny , and I think this may have been because she was always ill and pale. She sat in a chair in her living room with sweets on a table.  I never saw her stand from the chair.  We have happy memories of my Nan, she makes me smile thinking about all our happy times.  I like this feeling.



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