Tag Archives: grief

Looking back…

My wonderfully talented sister wrote this about our grandmother. The little girl in the second photo is me!


A little over a year ago my dear, sparkling, much adored grandmother (or Mama as we lovingly called her) passed away. I wrote some words in my journal back then, when I had first heard the news. In truth, writing words down doesn’t really help the pain of the goodbye, but it can help try to capture in some way a mere slice of the vast joy that was the “hello”. Seeing as it was her birthday recently I thought I would post a little blog for her and include some of my journal writing from last year.

One of my favourite photos of Mama and me from Christmas a few years back- such joy! One of my favourite photos of Mama and me from Christmas a few years back- such joy!

When someone transforms from a person who Is to a person who Was, so much changes. Suddenly your experience of them becomes that of an observer, looking upon their masterpiece of life- as opposed to seeing them as a person with…

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Art in August – Week -um- Two?

Phew!  It’s been a long time since I’ve sat down to my lovely laptop (or set up an ironing board, for that matter).  Things have been a little topsy-turvy in my world over the past couple of weeks.  My beautiful grandmother passed away a week and a half ago and the days that followed have been a big mess of eulogy-writing, funeral-planning, grieving, consoling, remembering, smiling and laughing.  Jan, Greg and Bobby all flew home and all six of us spoke at the funeral, which was just beautiful.

Mama's Wedding

I’m starting to feel now like my head is starting to come above water again and I’m finding comfort in the return of routine.  The dirty washing that was spilling out of the laundry door is now clean washing in several piles all over the kitchen table and family room couch, so that’s progress, I guess.

More importantly, I’ve ventured back into Blogland.  Oh, how I’ve missed you all!  I feel terrible for abandoning Art in August, when I was the one who started it up.  I figure I’ll just ignore the calendar and pick up where I left off, spilling into September if I need to.

Just to remind you, my fellow art bloggers are:

Naturally Cathy of The Plucky Parent,

Selene (セレネ) of Kawaii Kuni,

Red Lipstick Mama,

Michaela of the mmmmm family,

Allison Profeta of Allison Road,

Katy from Sourdough Lifestyle, and

Meghan from Mathair Fiona

Plus, since my last post, another blogger has joined in.  Ruby Doom from The Hippy Geek has done some most excellent rock painting which is definitely worth a look.

Here is my entry for week two.  It’s called “Vigil”


I sat with Mama on the night she died.  It was a privilege to spend her last night by her side.  The room was filled with aromatherapy scents and peaceful music.  The nurses were quietly attentive to Mama’s needs.  There was such a feeling of peace and prayer in that room.

Thank you for your patience, lovely readers.  I’ll be back soon, I promise!

Don’t Read This on a Japanese Train

Mama and Me

After reading a delightful post by Misadventures in Craft  about Crafty Minx’s nan, Lillian, I learnt about the “Granny-a-Long” hosted by Meet Me at Mikes and I couldn’t resist joining in.

My Mama lived at home in my big and noisy family when I was growing up and is a big part of who I am today.  I’ve been feeling a little emotional about my lovely Mama of late, so you might find this post a bit of a departure from my usual cheerful style.  I also wrote it in present-tense-second-person for no good reason.  Deal with it.

Mama and Me

Last night I visited you in hospital.  You have a brand-new hip now, but I don’t think you understand that.  Lost in a bewilderment of tubes and bleeping machines and white linen, you look so small.  You have always been little.  We used to tease you about it.  In the noise and laughter of our dinner table, you would stand up to get our attention and bang on the table to cancel out the five-conversations-at-once.  We would giggle and say, “Mama has an announcement! Stand up, Mama! Stand up!” And you would laugh and swat at us with your napkin and call us cheeky.  But now, in that bed so high off the ground, you look tinyLike a baby bird, too weak to fly.

Harry is excited because he can see a train out of your window.  The hospital is next to the train station.  I remember when I was a little girl, you would take me on the train with you on your excursions to Town.  How we would emerge from the exciting, subterranean station, pay a visit at St Francis’ church, and wander through the department store wonderlands so you could run your errands.  After this, if I had been good (and you always thought me good) we would have a special treat for lunch before catching the train back home.

The train pulls away, a snake of lit windows in the night, and Harry and Christopher Robin wave at it.  You don’t like this hospital.  You hate being sick.  When I was a little girl, I loved being sick.  You would bring me downstairs to your big Queen Anne bed and bring me cups of tea and fried eggs on a tray with flowers.  After lunch, you would perch on the bed with me and watch your “serials’, Days of Our Lives, The Young and The Restless.  You thought them very silly, but you never missed an episode.

Last year, when things got really bad, the doctor said you would have to live in a nursing home, where you could have full-time care.  We had all thought you would live at home forever.  We had never realised that one day that would become impossible.  In my grief, I swung into action mode and sought comfort in lists and research and pros and cons.  The home you live in now was number one on our list.  Tall trees, warm nurses, close community, fun activities.  But it’s not home.  And you know that and we know that.

The hospital confuses you.  “Is that George over there?  That can’t be George can it?”.  It isn’t George.  George is one of the other residents at Cottage Four who has a great-grandson just Harry’s age.  Actually, George isn’t even George. His name is really Walter, but you’re never one to let silly facts like these get in the way.  Walter just doesn’t realise his name is actually George.  Christopher Robin says that you’ve given Walter a nickname and I find it hard not to call him George myself sometimes.

You’re getting tired, it’s time for us to go.  Harry bounds over to give you a hug and a kiss and Annie bounces in her dad’s arms saying “Mama!”.  Christopher Robin gives a small, sad smile and a wave and Matilda lingers reluctantly at the foot of the bed.  But you don’t notice this.  “You have a beautiful family, you should be very proud” you murmur sleepily.  Pride in your grandchildren used to be a full-time sport for you.  If one of us came home with a glowing school report or a certificate from a science competition or pretty much anything with a gold star on it, you would whisk it away to some hiding place in your room, only to mysteriously produce it again whenever important visitors came around.  It was so embarrassing.  But you had the sort of personality that could get away with anything.

Matilda is subdued in the car ride home and as I tuck her into bed, she is crying.  “I wish Mama was living at home with Grandma again.” she whispers.  Matilda remembers what you were like before, when you were only a little bit forgetful.  We talk about the little impulsive gifts you bought her and the special lunches at the food court of the local shopping centre.  By now we’re both crying, but it’s dark, so it’s not so bad.  “I know it’s harder for you, Mum”, Matilda sniffles, “because you’ve known Mama for longer.  But it’s still hard for me.”

I want to say something really wise.  To talk, maybe, about how some goodbyes are swift and jarring, whilst others are slow and gentle.  To reflect on the ways in which love and relationship can transcend language and intellect and even memory.  But the words won’t come, so instead I hold Matilda tight and smell her beautiful hair.  And we stay like that for a very long time.

The title of this post is a warning to my older brother.  In Japan, public displays of emotion are kind of frowned upon.  Except that frowns are too expressive for Japanese public transport.  My brother complains when my posts make him laugh out loud when he’s on the train.  It makes everyone around him quietly tense.  If he were to get a little teary, his morning commute would get very uncomfortable.

Sometimes I wonder what would have happened if Mama had known about my blog.  Mama was never tech-savvy at the best of times, but I can imagine her brandishing print-outs of my best work to distribute amongst all her Church Lady Friends.  I can hear her hassling the parish priest after Mass:  “Did you know Katie got a Liebster award last week?  Let me give you something to read…”