Strange things seem to set off memories for me but this morning was at least an understandable trigger for memories of my family.
I was watching a documentary about Psychic Sally and as always thoughts of the afterlife led to thoughts of my family members who have past. In a lot of ways this will be a sad post so I apologise in advance. Many of my family have passed in my 27 years and some I feel more than others, my mums mum died the year before I was born and I wish I could have known her but apparently I’m very like her and my dads dad who lived in South Africa died when I was only four so I don’t have any memories of the times I met him. The others I feel deserve a bit of time to talk about Grumpa (Grandad on my mums side), my Granny (Dad’s side), My uncle Tom, Uncle Anthony and Uncle Patrick all of whom left their mark on my life.
I’ll start off with my Grumpa whom I loved dearly and have many happy memories of. We lived around 400 miles away from my mothers family and as such only saw them a couple of times a year when we could go up in the school holidays and stay in the caravan next to a the river Devon that I was always forbidden to go near as many people had been claimed by it.
The view of the Ochills(the ones in the background of this photo) always sends a shiver down my spine to this day, I miss Scotland.
My Grumpa was already in his 70’s when I was born and was living up in Scotland tending his garden and chatting to his pals. When we would visit I would help him in the garden being offered the honour of being allowed to pick peas and strawberries in his garden, one only allowed to few people. We would always take a walk through the copse that was close to his house with our dogs, Grumpa always armed with a little knife to take cuttings of any interesting plants he saw as we wandered along. I may not take the knife but I seem to have taken over where he left off taking cuttings as I wander or lifting any helpful bits people may have flytipped such as flower pots to take home.
Some of my relatives have very different memories of my Grumpa telling me he was not the lovely old man I remember who would cuddle me on his lap but I refuse to allow my memory of him to be sullied.
The final time I saw him alive was in the hospital and I was 12 and horrified to see him looking so weak, lying on the bed almost too tired to move with tubes all over the place. He went to hug me and gripped me tightly laughing and saying I was ‘naught but muscle lass’ and he would see me soon. My mother and I then had to drive back down home and I remember crying as we did, a few days later we had a phone call to tell us he had passed away peacefully and it felt like the world had crumbled beneath me. I tried to go back to school the next day but ended up bursting into tears in form room and being sent home not returning until after his funeral.
I think the part that really sticks in my mind is the funeral itself, only the second I had ever attended (and the second grandparent I lost that year) it was nice to see how many people were there. The church was packed to the rafters with people who he had touched in his life, I was however unable to realise this at the time really as I was devastated and could not even have the comfort of my parents as the front pews were filled and he had too many grandchildren for us all to fit. My cousin tried her best to console her son and I, but the tears were flowing the entire time. As we left the service to see him lowered into the ground to join my Grandma the crowds of people made it difficult to get there, everyone wanted to get there first and it didn’t matter that we were his family. I felt like screaming at them all to go away and leave us to grieve in peace so I could get to my mother and see him be placed into the ground. I pulled my hand out of my cousins grasp and pushed through the crowds to my mother stood by the grave side, grasping her waist and crying so hard it hurt as we said our final goodbyes to him.
Every time we visit the area my mother and I go to the grave and place flowers there. Though both of us know he would be horrified by the cut flowers placed there (he always hated them and preferred them in the ground where they belong) but there aren’t enough people close by who would be able to tend living plants if we put them there.
I still think of him most days, I wish he was still around so he could have seen me grow up and I could have had more time with him to learn the art of gardening he knew so well. I feel him with me when my hands are mucky from working the soil, when I walk my dog through the fields and when I am low I can almost hear his voice.
It was around this time that I began to drink, I would steal liquor from my parents and drink until I was numb and though I know he wouldn’t have approved I couldn’t stop. My family is not exactly brilliant at talking about feelings and though we will acknowledge they exist it’s rare that we will be able to talk about them properly. My drinking problem just got worse over the next few years but I think that might be enough depressing memories for the moment.