Sitting with my Gran today weeks after her stroke, I had wanted to say so much, like many other times visiting her in the retirement home before, but instead all I could say is “How are you gran”? and “I love you”. Somehow you expect to have all these grand gestures and words that come flowing out in these precious last moments, but instead, I was lost for words.
The stately home where she will see in the last of her days was built in the middle of the 1700`s. It`s original ornate lattice work upon the ceiling and marbled fireplace have been kept in tact. Like a ghost house the rooms were silent and empty, with each patient safely tucked away in their quarters. It seems that we are so concerned with preserving what is new and shiny that we hide away what is aging or dying, far from view. Such a taboo. We saw only one resident, in quite good health and cheer, despite her age and walking aid, making her way through the canary yellow and white conservatory.
Leaving the home, we walked upon the expansive lawn stretching to reach a wild dutch flower bush blooming and heavy in scent. The owner of the house with brilliant white hair, came out to meet us and described the different types of flowers that had sprung and were giving the garden all it´s English wild charms. After commenting on how friendly he seemed, I was reminded that he was running a business to keep the customers, namely my dying grandmother and her family happy. How naive I suddenly felt.
Nevertheless, what little dignity there is left in dying, Gran has been given and maintains that within herself. Though it strained her to say she managed the words “I love you” and her piercing blue glass-like eyes still had the will of the strong woman I always knew her to be. She is the last of my Grandparents. A Kennedy, a Scot, true, deep and enduring to her last breath.