I had often thought that our lives are mapped out before us, before we are born. To choose the lessons in life that we need to learn, to grow for the spiritual growth that we need.
But what happened at death, I had little knowledge about.
My grandmother was 93 when she became sick in 2011. It was unfortunate, as my own daughter had died the previous year in 2010. Because of this, i had avoided my grandmother. I knew that she worried about me, if things were difficult for me. I loved her very much, and she meant a lot to me and so I didn’t want to be a burden to her.
Because of this, in 2010, and 2011, I called her less often and I saw her less often. This hurt her, but, I was trying to protect her. I didn’t want her to worry about me.
My father had said that my grandmother was sick and in the hospital. But, I couldn’t go. I had severe post traumatic stress disorder, and I couldn’t face hospitals. My grandmother was old skool, of a different generation. To her, babies died, and you got up and got on with it. it happened in her generation all the time.
Shortly before she died, I became concerned, as I was calling her and nobody answered her phone.
This particular day, I was so concerned that she hadn’t answered her phone, and I had tried to call her for more than a week. So, to check that she was ok, I called the manager of the nursing home she was living in. She told me that my grandmother had not been too well. But that they had now moved the phone right next to her bed, and so, if I called then she should pick up. She said that my grandmother had been waiting to hear from me.
My grandmother was the kindest, most caring person that you could ever meet. Everybody loved her. She had a good heart and a good spirit; she had a warm heart and she always made people laugh. This was just her way. No matter how ill she felt, she always had a good word to say, and was a joy to be around.
And so called her number again, and this time she answered.
But she was different with me. In a way I had never seen before. She wasn’t happy with me at all. She said ‘where have you been, I have been waiting for you’ . I hadn’t seen her for the last 6 weeks, as I couldn’t face the hospital, and I had some upsetting news, and I didn’t want her to worry about me.
This particular day on the phone, aside from saying ‘where have you been I have been waiting for you’ …. She was short and abrupt with me. She was bad tempered for the first time ever in my life. At the end of the conversation, she paused and then barked at me…. and Nicola, ‘yes’ I said…. ‘dont leave it so long next time’. She was firm. Her words were an order. She was telling me to get there Now. I couldn’t mistake the urgency in her voice.
The day was Saturday. I was looking after my granddaughter, so I couldn’t go in immediately. The very next morning I went in to see her. It was Sunday. I went with my granddaughter who was a 3 month old baby.
As i sat there, my grandmother was not happy with me. Or at least she just wasn’t herself. I wished that she could understand. I didn’t want her to be upset with me. She was staring to the left hand side of me, I looked at her, and she asked me who was stood next to me? Had she came with me? …. i said who? Looking around, there was nobody there, she pointed and said a lady with blonde hair. All the time, she was looking around as if she could see people.
I told her that there was nobody there. She said that she must be seeing things.
She then said with a sense of urgency, ‘get Elizabeth’…. who was her daughter, my aunt. My grandmother had two children, my father, and my aunt. She said it with such a sense of urgency that I panicked; i was scared that i would get things wrong.
I went out to the matron’s office and called my aunt. I told her that my grandmother needed her to come in. I came back into my grandmothers room, with her lying so still on her bed and I said to my grandmother, ‘do you want me to call dad’ I feared that she was about to die, and that I would get the blame if she did, if I hadn’t called him.
She looked at me, in a way i had never seen before, and barked at me ‘what’s it got to do with you, it’s nothing to do with you’ ….. I didn’t know what to say. I had never seen my grandmother this way before.
I left and went home. But was quite upset by how she was with me. And i felt sad. I didn’t understand, why was she being this way?
After that Sunday my grandmother went into fast decline. it was like she had been waiting for me. I went to the nursing home every day before work and after work to see her. On the Wednesday night I sat with her holding her hand, until probably 2am, she whispered to me, to go home. I tried to plead with her to please understand. I loved her very much.
I was never an early riser, yet, despite that, I woke at 5.30am the next morning. I was at the nursing home for 6am. There, i sat with her. My father and my brother were there with her when I got there, and they left for work, when my aunt got there.
We sat at either side of her bed and held her hand. I knew that she was suffering and in pain. I didn’t want her to suffer anymore. The manager of the nursing home said that she could be like this for days, she reassured my father before he went to work at 7.30am.
Sitting either sided of her, my aunt was emotional, and begged her not to go ‘please mum, please don’t go’, and ‘please don’t leave us’. I looked at my aunt, and looked at my grandmother.
I knew it was her time to go. I led the way, and said ‘it’s time to go now Nan, it’s time to put on your dancing shoes, to go up there to the greatest ballroom in the sky. Granddad is waiting for you, he is waiting for you to dance’ It’s time to go. My aunt followed my lead, and said ‘it’s time to go mum, go home to les, he is waiting for you’….
And with that, my grandmother died. In a way, it was a beautiful thing. It was like birth but in reverse. It was 7.50am on Thursday morning. Only 4 days after she had ordered me to come in.
You see, my grandmother had been waiting for me. I think that my grandmother already knew who would be with her when she died. She was old and tired and she was waiting to go home. But, she already knew before she died just how it would be. I thought how she was cross with me, when I said I would call my father. How she barked that it was nothing to do with me. How she asked me to call my aunt, and how she went into decline as soon as I visited. She just knew…..