Sometimes when required, usually on a Monday morning I will read some affirmations that help me start off with a positive week. Today when the screen loaded the message that starred back at me read – Be thankful for a lesson you’ve learnt from a person you are closest to.
It usually takes a few rings for him to reach the phone and a couple more minutes for him to figure out which grandchild it is. As soon as I ask how he’s keeping I can hear the heartache in his voice.
” It was 1941 in the heart of Dublin city when the door closed into my grandmother’s shop. That’s when I first seen her, dressed in her red confirmation costume with a light stripe down the middle. Jane was her name, she was 12 and she was my Auntie Maggie’s little sister. Family gatherings kept us close as we grew up as friends.
A couple of years later we would see the beginning of us dating. One of our first dates, I think I was as young as 17 at the time and we went to the pictures. Of course we took one of Jane’s nieces with us but as we walked along they snapped our picture on O’Connell Street. Now I sit here and find myself staring at the photo. I think back to our youth and how it all began, how we were so young and had our whole life to live together. Now our life together on Earth has ended but I still await the one we will spend together in heaven.
Sick to my stomach I could keep no food down. I was witnessing my wife, the other half of me slowly fade in front of my eyes. Why was she not getting better? I held on to the hope that one day she would be herself again. But nothing prepares you for what life has in store, as you grow old together you’re faced with the inevitable, that health will soon catch up.
Dublin in The 60’s
For a lady who was always up dancing, I couldn’t believe the day when I seen a chair lift installed on our stairs. How had this day come by so quickly, when I remember so clearly walking down the aisle with her on our wedding day? Before we knew it, 60 years of marriage had passed us by, 60 years filled full of wonderful memories. Memories – That’s what I had left now. I treasure those times and without the pictures and videos I wouldn’t be able to remain sane. They remind me of everything we had and of all the funny and wonderful times we shared.
Wedding day, 31st December 1952
Sitting in the hospital waiting room, my head dropped into my hands. I kept waiting to wake up from this dream, to be shook so that I could go back to the days when we would be sitting on the patio in Spain having drinks and singing with old Spanish friends. When Jane would be the first one up to dance, to have a laugh, to be exactly who she always was – mad. I could hear the scream. I tried so hard for my legs to carry me as quickly as possible, but my head was telling me I was quicker than what my old tired knees could register. I reached her bed and begged her to stay with us, I cried into her as I whispered another prayer.
We took her home, where she wanted to be and we made her as comfortable as she could have been. She would sit like the Queen, like the way we always treated her and all the grandchildren would sit around her. I knew when I looked in the room and seen all our children and grandchildren that there was enough love to carry her on to her next journey.
They’re not words you ever want to hear, they’re not words you ever think you will here. When you are told that there’s only days of life left in the woman you’ve loved all your life, that’s when your heart breaks. You don’t think of how life can go on without her and you don’t think how you could possibly live a day without her by your side. We took out the old gramophone and we played her a song
“Baby face, you’ve got the cutest little baby face. There’s not another one to take your place, baby face. My poor heart is jumping, you should have started something. I’m up in heaven when I’m in your fond embrace.”
I held her close in my arms, and rubbed her head lightly. I reminded her up until her last breath how she was and forever will be the love of my life.”
There is no other story that holds such raw honesty or a truer love story than this that needs to be told. Although now it is a time of devastation, despair and loss there is no denying their story is not one of everlasting love. To many people, The Notebook is the most epic love story of all time. But none of these people have been fortunate enough to witness a love story as epic and true than that of my grandparents.
I look down at the engagement ring on my finger now and it holds much more to me than anybody could imagine. I have learnt many lessons from my family but what I am thankful for is how my granda has thought me to love, how to give it every ounce of you and in return you are filled with a lifetime of Joy. The love of my grandparents started off from the age of 17 and has continued to grow every day since. I have witnessed a snippet of their marriage that spanned 60 years, filled full of life with children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. My grandparents have not only had a profound affect on me, but even my parents who are almost 40 years married. What it always comes back to is the memories, they are after all what you are left with. What my grandfather often reminds me when I call, is that this time I spend away in Canada with Gary is the time I will look back on in 60 years. When in the future we pick up pictures and reminisce on times and experiences we spent together, we will remember the love and the laughs.
As my granddad celebrates his first birthday away from his wife this week, I pray that a little part of her spirit comes and fills him with love. Sending him all my love from Canada , I am thankful for a grandfather as wonderful as you.