Tag Archives: grief

Remembering Grams

grandma's memorial

It’s been one whole year since my beloved grams passed on. It’s hard to believe it because it feels like it was just yesterday we were mourning her death. Last year, on a day like today, she breathed her last, while admitted in hospital. It was so unexpected, that when mom told us her mom had died, it took me a while before it actually sank in; that my grams was gone. All through the burial preparation, I never shed a tear. Part of me wanted to believe I had accepted her passing. And things remained that way; until the day of her burial.

Since mom was the one in-charge of the funeral arrangements, we (my small sister and I) went with her to get grams’ body from the funeral home. I’ve always had the impression mom was fearful when it came to such morbid affairs, but she had me reassessing my earlier presumptions; she went into the morgue to check if gram’s body was prepared for burial, accompanied by dad while my sister and I remained in the car.

From where I was seated, I looked around and saw this place, where they were selling coffins. The thought of seeing grams lying in one of those struck me simultaneously and all the emotions I had been trying to bottle up started spewing; and it is at that point that I started crying. Still, I tried to restrain myself. Partly because I knew her death had been so hard on mom and if she was to see me teary, all her courage or the semblance of it would evaporate and she would break down.

I just took some tissues and dabbed my face. Unfortunately, as it is with emotions, once that lid comes off, it becomes really difficult taming those unruly feelings. My thoughts drifted to the past; back to this one time, when my sisters and I were still small. It was during the long Christmas holiday and mom had dropped us off at her place while she went back to work.

Lovingly, grams had given us a tour of her vast coffee farm. That was the first time I saw coffee berries. Separating her farm from her neighbours’ was this big river and I remembered feeling so awed. The view was breath-taking. As my thoughts wandered back in time, uncontrollable tears rolled down my cheeks as it started hitting home that we would never have such beautiful moments together again. That grams was gone forever.

The thought of never seeing her again, or holding her hand, or hugging her, or seeing her walk energetically in between rows of coffee bushes just crashed me. She was gone for good. But then, I remembered how she was the last time I had seen her a few months before she passed on. She was frail, and just looked desolate. Her two sons, who lived on the same farm had been fighting constantly and in my opinion, that stressed her a lot, even though they failed to notice.

Seeing her sons fight like enemies sworn against each other had been eating at her and sometimes I feel she fell into depression, albeit the doctors didn’t mention it. When I had last talked to her, she seemed to have lost all will to live. On many occasions she wished she was dead, and I would try to enliven her by telling her the things she would look forward to; I just wanted to give her something happy to hold on to. But I guess the damage had already been done. She just wanted to die.

That frail image of her reminded me what I had been saying since I learned she had gone. She was at peace with herself, and the universe. On the day she died, she just saw mom and peacefully breathed her last. I believed she was in a better and happier place. That thought alone comforted me.

Thankfully, I managed to hold my tears back, and as the hearse carried her body to her final resting place, I was still willing myself not to cry. My small sister and I read the eulogy and when eventually, we got to the grave, the disturbing thoughts came back again in full force. Mom, who had appeared strong the entire time finally broke down and she wailed, when her mom was being lowered into the grave.

With all the strength I could summon, I just picked up a handful of soil and with tears in my eyes, dropped it in the grave. My small sister did the same and when some young men came with shovels and started covering the grave, we walked away. It was a really sorrowful day.

Today we’re attending a memorial mass to celebrate the first anniversary of her death. It has been a whole year since she left this world, but memories of her are still fresh in my head. I still haven’t mastered the courage to look at her photos because everytime I try to, the sudden feeling of loss hits me afresh.

I don’t know if I will ever get used to the fact that she’s gone, but as the days pass by, I pray she is in a happy place.

P/S: I wrote this post earlier today before I attended  the memorial service.

And… the inevitable came to pass

old and abandoned

The inevitable happened. Dad’s grandma, remember her? From my post old and neglected? She passed away last Friday. Mom called my big sister to give her the sad news, and she subsequently told us. As she talked with mom on phone, I could tell it was bad news because she reached for a seat, her legs seeming to weaken. Before she could even tell us what mom had told her I immediately guessed it had something to do with our great grams.

“What did mom say?” I asked anxiously the instant she hung up. I suppressed the words, ‘Who died?’ that were almost spilling out of my mouth.

She inhaled then replied, “Dad’s grams passed away.”

I was deeply saddened by the news, but somehow it didn’t shock me. Our great grams had been admitted in hospital a few days before then and mom had been told by her sister-in-law she wasn’t eating and had refused to take her medication. Given that she was about a century old, I knew that wasn’t good and if she didn’t start eating it wouldn’t be long before she crossed over to the other side.

I couldn’t blame her though. She had been miserable the last few years. One of her youngest sons, who had been looking after her, had only been using her as an excuse to get money from the rest of the family members, and the worst part is that he and his wife used the money to cater to their own needs instead.

They said she needed a special diet but the last time I saw her she looked so scrawny. I couldn’t comprehend where they had been taking the money people had been constantly contributing for her upkeep.

Based on the things I had heard mom saying, she wanted to die. But as much as I encourage people not to give up on life, I understood her. I imagined she felt she was a burden. Who can blame her anyway? The last time mom and dad went to see her, her son and his wife were asking mom to take pics of her that would be used on her obituary.

Our great grams was old, but she could still hear. The thought that her son said that in her presence just goes to show how little they were concerned about her well-being. They wanted her gone. I’m imagining she picked up on those vibes and therefore felt she was better off dead.
I know, chances are even if she hadn’t died she wouldn’t have lasted for long, given her age and all, but I believe if she had been well taken care of, she would have seen a few more weeks, months even.

I pity her. She gave birth to children, most of who are successful now and even had successful grandchildren; but apparently all that was useless. She died a pauper’s death. Those who should have been responsible for her neglected her, only concerned about their own needs. They forgot she spent the better part of her life fending for them. From her, four generations sprouted, but she died lonely, and abandoned. I wouldn’t wish that on anyone; not even on my worst enemy.

She’s gone now, and I only pray she’s happy wherever she is. And as it is with my weird family, her death has brought some drama of its own. Once, dad’s mom summoned all her children and she told them whoever wants to give her flowers should give her when she is still alive. When dad told us what his mom had said, I couldn’t agree more with her.

What’s the point of crying at someone’s funeral if when s/he was alive one didn’t make an effort to show them a little love/care? Well it turns out she meant it, literally, because she took her mom an artificial rose flower before she died. I couldn’t believe it. Why would she give her old mom a flower when she was more in need of food?

When dad’s grandma was alive, she was denied any form of comfort by her well-to-do children. But now that she is gone, they’re dutifully giving her a ‘royal’ send-off; expensive casket and all. That just had me wondering, where was that money when she needed food? When she fell ill she was taken to some poorly equipped hospital, when they could have atleast had her treated by a professional.

One of her daughters, who is married to a politician, is the one in-charge of making the burial preparations. She has strictly set the dress code because seemingly, her politician hubby will be accompanied by some of his friends, who are also prominent politicians. The charade is sickening. They want to give people the impression dad’s grams was from a moneyed family, but when she was alive she was worse off than the average elderly woman.

I don’t want to sound judgemental, but the idea of splashing so much money around when it didn’t help her when she was alive feels like hypocrisy to me. What’s the point of burying her in an expensive casket, when many are the days she slept hungry?

Additionally, as planned, after laying her to rest, the moneyed family members will be gathering for lunch in a five star resort. I’m all for celebrating our great grams’ life- she lived for almost a century- but in this situation I’m left wondering if it’s her life people are celebrating or the thought that she is finally gone.

A twisted kind of love: Part two

When I started this blog a few months ago, I told dad about it in my excitement. But I doubt he’s ever read any of my posts. If ever he comes across this “twisted kinda love posts,” I know he’ll either hate me for it, or feel guilty enough to want to change. I’m not even asking that he be perfect; no one is. Even I am tremendously flawed.

As it turns out, not everyone was lucky enough to have a father. Sometimes I hear people complaining about how miserable their lives are because they weren’t lucky enough to have a dad; but take it from me, that is not a reason to not enjoy life. Yesterday evening, I was very happy, until dad came home drunk, long after mom had gone to bed, and then he started playing some songs that were played at grams’ funeral barely a month ago.

I felt disappointed. He knows mom hasn’t fully recovered from the shock of her mom’s passing, yet he chose to play those particular songs. I don’t know if I’m the only one who feels this, but songs are very good at bringing back memories. They remind one what s/he was doing when they last heard that song, especially if it’s a song one doesn’t listen to everyday.

Earlier in the afternoon, after Sunday mass, I had a conversation with my big sister; I told her dad was every woman’s nightmare. It was a very long reflective train of thought that had brought me to that deduction. When he started playing those songs at night my sister just told me, “You were right. Dad is every woman’s nightmare.” He should have been consoling mom, not aggravating the situation. Mom was very close to her mom. After grams’ passing one of my aunts was concerned mom wasn’t grieving; she thought mom was still in denial. It was only when grams was being lowered into the grave that she wailed. Knowing mom, I know she was greatly affected by it.

I just couldn’t hide my rage when I heard dad playing the music on full blast like he was at a crusade. Worse still, he made sure all the major doors were open; he deliberately opened them. I’ve still not understood why he did that. While trying to comprehend his behaviour, many things came to mind. Before grams died, mom called him, asking if he would help her clear the hospital bill. He only comes home on weekends as he received a job transfer slightly over a decade ago. He went M.I.A for two days; he didn’t even call her to ask how grams was doing. Mom’s the one who called to inform him of grams’ passing. If grams were alive, I know she would be displeased with the treatment dad’s giving mom.

When grams was still alive, she adored dad. I’ve never seen a mother-in-law who treated her son-in-law with so much TLC. If dad’s mom showed my mom half of the TLC, I know mom would be a very happy daughter-in-law.

Maybe I’m making too big a deal out of it; but then I have many instances to reference his actions to. Whenever his siblings or mother calls, he always sends them money, even when he feels it’s too much; he always budges. I’ve always wondered why he refuses to cut the cord; I’ve seen the way his siblings treat him. I would hate it if my sisters treated me like that. They never involve him in any plans. Whenever they call him it’s always to ask for some contribution for some unimportant occasion, or if they want him to give them a ride because their cars are in some garage getting serviced. I just don’t feel the love. Maybe that’s where dad inherited his twisted kind of love.

I know more than enough instances where his family mistreated mom, but I don’t recall him standing up for her at any given time. He is the type of person who would rather go eat out than prepare food for his sick wife. He’s done that so many times. Once, he went out to drink leaving mom sick. My small sister, who was about five at the time, walked mom to a nearby clinic; my big sister and I were away in boarding school.

At the clinic, mom was given some ointment which she was supposed to rub on her back. Dad wouldn’t do it, so again, my sister, with her tiny palms had to do it. I can’t sum up all the instances I’ve seen dad act all irresponsible. If I broke it down it would be a novel.

I’ve never asked that he be perfect, but what hurts most is the fact that he takes mom for granted. He never treats her like the amazing woman she is. If I was sure talking this out with him would help him change, I would do it; but I’ve tried it and it failed. He repeats the same mistakes over and over again, and the worst part is he never seems remorseful about it.

Everytime we fall out I always find it in me to forgive him, because the bible tells us to forgive seventy times seven times (Matthew 18:22). It’s never easy, but knowing that God would be happy with me if I forgave him gives me the strength. Unfortunately, he hasn’t made an effort to change his errant ways. That leaves me wondering; he always says he loves us, but his actions make it impossible for us to believe him. I don’t think he loves us; and again I can’t help but insist, maybe he does love us, but in a very twisted way, because what I see him doing? That’s not love.

Tribute to grams

I’ve been away from this blog for the past three weeks, even though it feels like forever. I apologize to any of my readers who I may have inconvenienced in any way. It really does feel like forever; so much has happened. When I wrote my last post last month, my family and I had just been invited to my uncle’s birthday party. At the time mom hadn’t made up her mind if she wanted to attend the party or not, but in a weird twist of fate, nature intervened; we all went to my uncle’s that Sunday.

Mom was stressed up at the time because her mom was admitted in hospital. She couldn’t contemplate going to a party when her mom was lying on a hospital bed. It all happened so fast. Grams fell ill and was taken to hospital by two of mom’s siblings on a Wednesday. They called her from upcountry to inform her. Thursday, mom was so distraught when she went to work because she had never seen her mom admitted in hospital all her life.

I overheard a conversation she was having with one of my cousins on phone that evening; she was telling him how much she’d cried while at work. I bet she didn’t know I heard, and she carefully avoided telling my sisters and I. Somehow, she acted all cool, downplayed grams’ illness so it didn’t even seem like it was anything serious. Friday morning, she left home, not for work, but to visit her mom in hospital. It was entirely unprecedented. I doubt she’d notified any of her bosses she’d be skipping work that day.

In the afternoon I called to ask how grams was doing and she told me she was still recuperating in hospital. I couldn’t hear her clearly, so I texted her, telling her not to worry because grams would be well in no time.

Later that day, when she came back home, my big sister hadn’t come from school yet. Pokerfaced, mom asked what time she’d be arriving and I told her she’d be getting back home after ten. It was only thirty past seven in the evening.

“I don’t think I can wait that long, so if you don’t mind I’ll just tell you how my day was,” she said. I didn’t think there was much to the story as we’d been texting during the day, and generally she seemed okay, relatively. My small sister took a sit on the couch adjacent to mom’s. Dad was sitted on the one opposite mom’s but since I didn’t think she would take much time I remained standing, behind my small sister’s couch.

With a straight face, mom told us how she’d arrived at the hospital. When she walked into the ward grams was admitted in, she saw her mom lying there, frail. She was on drip. Mom’s elder sister was in there too. Quietly, she walked over to gram’s bedside, saying, “Mom, it’s me.” Grams didn’t open her eyes, instead, she just turned her head to the opposite direction, and she heaved, breathing her last.

At first mom thought grams was just too weak to talk, so she asked her sister to go get a doctor. It was only afterwards that the doctor revealed to them that grams had just passed away. When mom dropped that bombshell, she did it so calmly, my sister and I didn’t get it at first, then when what mom had just said hit us we asked simultaneously, “Grams died?”

The days that followed were difficult for everyone. Mom seemed composed but deep inside I knew she was shattered; she was barely holding on. She only put a brave face for my sisters and I, so we didn’t get too affected by grams’ passing. That entire period, during the burial arrangements and all, I never saw mom shed a tear. One of her sisters-in-law supported her all through. Other relatives did too, but this one was outstandingly supportive. Before then I didn’t like her much because normally we just don’t click, but after seeing the support she offered mom, I was immensely moved.

Our uncle’s party wasn’t postponed because everything had already been put in place. We attended the party, and even though we weren’t really in a partying mood, the happy vibes from the rest of the family and friends helped lessen the grief.

The only time I saw mom cry was when grams was being laid to rest. She actually wailed, and as she did, my aunt, mom’s sister-in-law, looked relieved that mom had finally cried because she was afraid mom was in denial about her mom’s passing. Naturally, it was a very tearful affair.

Mom is still getting by, taking one day at a time, and everytime I look at her I just thank God that He gave her the strength to get through the whole affair, because knowing her and all, I can attest that in all honesty that was Him at work.

After the burial I was anxious about my end of semester exams; I hadn’t revised much with all that had been happening, but again, by God’s grace I sat my exams. Now as I look at this past few weeks, I feel so much has happened, and at the moment, I can’t help but thank The Almighty because I can safely say I’ve seen His hand in everything.

God's hand

When tragedy strikes

Lord, when tragedy strikes, people ask, “Why me?” “Why us?”  It’s hard for them to comprehend how something so unfathomable could happen. Grief prevents us from seeing things clearly; everything revolves around the pain. The pain of losing a loved one feels unbearable; the psychological trauma one suffers makes the ensuing days feel hellish; it makes the future feel bleak.

Lord, in your loving arms I lay everyone who is going through a trying moment; anyone who has been directly or indirectly affected by whatever tragedy, man-made/natural. I pray that Lord, you may open their eyes and hearts to faith; so that they may understand that all that happens, happens only because You will it that way; that they may understand, nothing happens without Your consent, that even though we may be greatly weighed down by life’s sorrows, we may understand, that it all happens for a reason.

It’s only by looking at things through the eyes of faith that we can reconcile ourselves to all that happens around us. Cushion the hearts of those who are suffering from the crippling pain Lord. Console them. You didn’t promise that life would be perfect; that there would be no pain; that there would be no death. But you did promise to always be there; to guide us through it all.

Have mercy on Your people Lord, in Your Holy name I pray, Amen.

Please take a listen to the song-The Promise, by the Martins- below; I find it uplifting when I’m going through some difficult moment. May Our Heavenly Father heal all those who are hurting.