Letters to my Grandma

I haven’t written anything on this blog in a long time. Since September, in fact. There’s been a number of reasons for that, and I’m sure I’ll write about that in time, but right now, I’d like to talk about my grandma.

My Grandma passed away on Tuesday. My mom called me on Sunday and told me that she’d taken a turn for the worse and just to be prepared. I went into work on Monday, told them I needed to get back to Ireland; I flew home on Tuesday, went straight to Grandma and about an hour after I arrived, she was gone. I’m sad, but I’m also so grateful that I was able to get there just in time and tell her how much I loved her.

The past few years have been up and down for Grandma, so her death, while very much a loss, was not a shock. I’m still trying to process it and realise this person, one who was such a big part of my life, is now gone. I lived with her just before I moved to London, and then that turned into weekly phone calls. As phone calls got more difficult, I began writing letters. One of the first things I thought after I realised that her passing had really happened was “But I have all this pretty stationery, who am I going to write to now?”

I used to write about everything and anything to my Grandma. If I’d done something fun or gone somewhere noteworthy, it’d be chronicled in a letter. Even if I had no news, I’d pick something in my day to day life and describe it in detail. It was my way of bringing London to her, since she couldn’t visit me. There were letters about trips and plays I’d seen, letters about new flatmates and new jobs; but there were also letters about the mundane, like my favourite fruit and veg shop or the kebab man at the end of the street that I’d befriended after a few 3am orders of cheesy chips.

Having someone to write these letters to was like keeping a diary or a log of my life, but sharing it with someone else. My mom told me that she used to show the letters to all and sundry that walked through the door. “You’ll write a book some day,” she used to say “I might not be alive to read it, but I believe you will”.

I liked spending the time to sit down and write about what I’d been up to. It was fun to relive the nice parts of my life. I’d fill up my Parker pen with green ink, inevitably getting the ink all over my fingers, and choose a nice letter set to write the latest news on. I liked that my ramblings were going to make someone else happy. I missed her when I left, and I know she missed me too. I think these letters were a way to bring us closer. I sent them once a week, on average.

Despite having neglected this blog for so long, I think I’d like to start using it again to keep track of the little moments that make up life. Grandma might not be here to read it or receive any letters, but I think she’d like to know I kept on writing.

There’s so much I’m going to miss about her. She loved murder mystery books – the gorier the better. She loved crossword puzzles and did the one in the Irish Times daily. She loved Judge Judy, especially when the defendant was a man of questionable character. “Look at that auld creep,” she’d say “He’s definitely guilty”. She loved toffee, especially the horribly chewy kind that stuck to your teeth. She liked driving, but wasn’t so fond of traffic lights. She loved cups of tea in the morning, wine in the evening and chats whenever she could get them. She loved spending time with her next door neighbour Majella, gossiping about everything that went on in the neighbourhood. She loved ‘reminding’ me to wear shoes on my way out of the house, lest I be inclined to wander out into the Irish winters barefoot. She wore her long white hair in a bun right on the top of her head. She liked to eat fish, but wasn’t so gone on “that old Quorn muck” that I kept in the freezer. She liked the lasagne I made from ‘that old Quorn muck’, until she found out that it was made from said Quorn muck. She loved my Papa, she loved her family and she loved me.

So this one’s for you, Grandma. Thank you for a lifetime of love.

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