HAPPY BIRTHDAY, GRAN ❤
81 years today. I should be excited to spend the the day with you. Your twin sons have come all the way from Miami for your big day. You eldest son has flown from France to be with you. Yet, I am dreading going to see you today. How fucking pessimistic is that? I think I am being driven mad by the sagging colourless beat in my heart. The fact is one person will be missing. I don’t try and think of her and I don’t really feel like she is not around anymore. Well, she is. Somewhere. Her energetic atoms of laughter bursting in another part of the universe.
My Aunt. My friend. The funniest person I know. The person who idolised me ,partied with me and didn’t put up with my shit,She left for Costa Rica to go and work just after the new year in 2014.
She was okay. Fit and healthy. Something happened in Costa Rica. She suddenly found it hard to walk far distances without losing her breathe. It got so bad that over a 5 month period she was walking around with a portable oxygen machine like it was a brief case filled with illegal Krugerrand coins or something.
What happened? She came back to the U.K. in December 2104. She couldn’t breathe without the oxygen machine. Imagine 24 hours 7 not being able to breathe without support?
My Tati ( French for aunt) was one of the free spirits of the world, the revolutionary thinker, the person who lived life with a brimming heart and a sublime curiosity. She loved people. . She didn’t need material trappings and a gifted life (although she had that kind of life at staggered moments ) . She lived and breathed in all cultures of the countries she visited and there is not one person I know who has a bad word to say about her. Living and in her death.
In December 2014 she was admitted for tests in Costa Rica. My twin uncles flew out immediately to see her and pay the extortionate fees to see a doctor.The doctor diagnosed her with COPD. The doctors in the U.K. didn’t agree and ran tests for over 2 months while my Aunt stayed in hospital.. My aunt went through agonising procedures where the doctors opened a hole at the side of her ribs so they could drain the fluid in her lungs. She could hear it every time she breathed. The water swilling and swishing ,with each rasping breath. The worst part of this procedure was when they had to dry the lungs out. They made another hole in the other side of her body and inserted talcum powder into her lungs. She was morphed up to the max and she cried furiously. She was so brave. She survived so many obstacles in her life . She was a tortured spirit but she used her pain to live and to make people laugh. That phone call I received at 6 am fro my Mom on the 22/02 to tell me something was wrong with my Aunt was so delusory. I went on autopilot. I sped to my Mom’s house and I saw the paramedics bringing my ant down. Her pulse was something like 16. Her head was all dipped in low. Resting on her chin. Her pallor was grey. Yeah, Just grey.
My Mom and me made the joint the decision to let her die a natural death. No prolonging her pain and tugging back the leash attaching her to this world. No life support machines but natural death. We sang to her loved her , hugged her, kissed her, cried waterfalls of tears of having to witness and being forced to watch death wrap its hands around her neck and rattle the life out of her. We could not deny reality. My cousin – her daughter in living in the U.K. arrived at the hospital just as Tati took her last breathe. My cuz like her Mom is a brave woman and a true fighter. Cancer: we all have been affected by it or know someone who has been tainted with it.
So what has this all got to do with my beautiful gran’s birthday?
Gran as you may already know lives in a care home and in the last two years has gone from this – what caused this? Dementia and Alzheimer’s. I find it unpalatable that my aunt won’t be with us to celebrate another year of watching my Gran live in a world of complex understanding -far beyond the comprehension of a ‘normal’ human beings reality.
I find the thought of celebrating life in a place where people are sent to die -depressing and almost pointless. Of course it will be wonderful to see the other residents happy and welcoming a change from their monotonous existence. I’m not that fucken morbid.
I’m also disappointed.. I’m disappointed that my twin uncles never made it to their sister’s funeral. The reason? they were on standby in the hope they would get an upgrade to 1st/business class. I thought I had dealt with this but I guess I haven’t, and for the first time I have totally distanced myself from them. I haven’t made a big fuss.. I’m not as excited as I usually would be.I worshiped them most of my life. I’m disappointed. Isn’t that tragic? I know they are only human and they wanted to be at the funeral but why did they let their own wants get in the way of something so significant . We are or were a close family..
I still love them of course I just don’t share the enthusiasm like I usually do. My fab and successful uncles. the comedy duo act.
So happy birthday Gran. You have most of your children around you. You don’t even know your daughter and other son are dead. I will put my mask on and make sure I can catch that spark and glint in your eyes as much as possible. That mischievous twinkle that I miss so much. Why is it that the thing I miss the most from my Gran and Aunt are their laughs? I will never hear them laugh again. I will never feel that shared side splitting aching laugh . I will never laugh again about the time I got so drunk at a get together do in Barcelona that my aunt ended up hitting me over the head with a shoe for being too arrogant. I will never sit in a airplane again with my Gran and be in hysterics with my gran over the man seated opposite us and labelled ‘ Le peteses’ French for the smelly farter