Is it so terribly wrong of me to be looking forward to my grandmother’s funeral next week?
For one thing, there’s the prospect of traveling to another state by myself. No, wait, I don’t think you understand: I’m going without the kids. For two whole days. I can not stress this enough: Two. Whole. Child-Free. Days. The only time I’ve ever been away from the kids is when I’ve been heavily pregnant or in a maternity hospital delicately negotiating a breast-feeding treaty with a newborn. This time I won’t be either. For two whole days!
There’s also the fact I’m looking forward (if that’s the right term) to doing some actual grieving. Since I heard of Nanna B’s passing last Sunday night, I’ve barely been able to chew the news, let alone digest it, amidst all the usual chaos of family life.
The kids, in the meantime, seem to be doing a lot of the digesting for me.
The Pixie, a trippy child at the best of times, tries to put it plainly. “Nanna B was my cousin and she is dead.”
No, sweetheart, Nanna B was your great-grandmother.
She tries a different tack: “I have two grandmothers. One is great and the other one is not so great.”
I nod, somewhat confused, which she takes as permission to embark upon one of her lyrical monologues, detailing how she, The Pixie, died in a house fire (obviously she didn’t) and how she went to meet Nanna B at her house when she was a little baby (I can confirm that she did) and that her grandmother painted a picture of a fairy on a lizard (your guess is as good as mine).
“You know the one, mummy”, she says, eyes all wide. Perhaps if I took some banned hallucenogenic substance, I’d be on the same wavelength and I *would* know the one.
Mr Justice is a bit more coherently philosophical. “Do we all die, mummy?”
Yes, we do.
“But only when we’re old.”
Mostly when we’re old.
At this point, his eyes fill with tears. “Sometimes young people die, too, don’t they?”
Yes, they do. So we have to work hard at staying healthy and happy and safe. And that’s why it is important to do what I tell you to. (Mothers just can’t help themselves, can they – they just have to slip those kind of things in when they can).
As for Tiddles McGee, as the second youngest of Nanna B’s great-grandchildren, he’s happily oblivious to all things about life and death. He just shouts “Doo-Doooooo!” and dances a merry jig. As I watch him, I recall that slice of Hallmark wisdom that said children are the key to our immortality. Nanna B, in her lifetime, had 4 children, 8 grandchildren and 15 great-grandchildren – so I think her immortality is looking pretty good.
Nanna B was my last surviving grandparent and the long-serving matriarch of a large Novacastrian family, full of love, drama, fierce loyalty, in-fighting, backyard cricket and – above all – lots of laughter. Her funeral is next Wednesday.