Yeah, sorry to break that to you like this, but hey, better here than on Twitter, right?
Anyhow, one of the more recent people to feel the sarcastic raise of Death's icy eyebrow is my lovely Nana. So here I sit, alone at midnight in the ridiculously opulent bar of the Cork International Airport Hotel, rather guiltily glugging the most expensive pint of Heineken I've ever bought as fast as I can so the poor bar staff can go home, and while I should be chucking another few hundred words gloomily onto the pile of my very-behind-schedule NaNoWriMo novel, I felt I'd better write something down about her.
Memories of Nana no 1: Laugh
Nana was of good solid Berkshire stock, which makes her sound a little like cattle, but I'm sure she'd forgive me. I didn't actually know her that well. She moved to Ireland when I was about 9, and she and my father had a mother/son relationship which was never really explained to me, my father being of the "hush, hush, bottle it up and brazen it out" school of thought, but I think centred around being as far away from each other as humanly possible without it seeming actually rude. So what few memories I have of her are mostly vague and unfocused, but her broad Berkshire accent and more acutely her laugh - throaty, huge, but with a squeaky Muttley quality, and unfurled at the slightest provocation - burn through above all else. She found a great deal of life funny, and that, I think, is something we should all heartily approve of.
Memories of Nana no 2: Puppies
Shortly after she moved to Ireland, we went to visit. For some reason, I had to fly across on my own, which was just the most exciting thing possible as I was an Unaccompanied Minor with a big pass around my neck declaring it, and a stewardess had to accompany me everywhere I went, even if I wanted to go and buy sweeties, which I could because I had my own money and she really couldn't have given less of a fuck what I did with it! Hoorah! While we were staying with Nana, who lived in a very beautiful and rural corner of south-west Ireland, we woke up one morning to hear the most pitiful cries from her garden. Investigating, we found under a bush, shivering, sopping wet and terrified, a tiny little puppy. It was quite the most adorable thing I'd ever seen. Further investigations yielded a few more puppies dotted around, and even further human-based investigations led to a nearby farm, and a mysteriously missing litter of newborn puppies. We reunited the little guys with their mum, congratulated them on their adventurous spirit, and I was privy to the word "bitch" in its correct context for the first time. Nana was a rock throughout all this, involving me every step of the way, and I felt like a proper grown-up, even though I was a shivering, terrified pup myself.
Memories of Nana no 3: Boyfriend
Nana was quite the most ferociously independent and strong-willed woman you would ever care to meet. Divorced from my grandad way before I was around, she moved to Ireland by herself and never needed anybody else around her (as far as I know. I like to think she had her toyboys dotted about the Irish glens, or fens, or whatever they have round here. Sorry, Ireland, I don't know you that well either) She built, virtually by herself, her own home, living in a caravan for years during its construction, all well after she was 50. But she would, without fail, after I reached about 15, whenever I spoke to her briefly at Christmas, ask me if I had a boyfriend. No-one else in the family wanted to know about this side of me. My dad, I suppose understandably, refuses still to acknowledge any partner's existence without major prodding. The massive swell of pride when I was able to tell her, finally, after years of this question, that yes, I DID have a boyfriend, and her joyous reaction, was something I retain to this day.
There's loads more coming back to me now; stuff about her house, and her scent, and the things she said, and the last time I saw her; how glad I am that she met Mr JRME, and that I phoned my uncle who I haven't spoken to in 12 years to pass a message on to her before she died. And how much it was a horrible, long and degrading way to go, and how much she must have hated every second of being trapped in a hospital bed. And how glad I am that she's free, but how sad I am that she's gone. Good on you, Nana. I'm sorry we didn't know each other better. And I really hope you don't mind I've spewed all this onto a blog.
Cheers for bearing with me, guys...back to normal business next time. And for those keeping count, yes, it's now 00:42, but the bar staff threw me out ages ago, so you can stop your fretting. They're fine.