One of the surest signs that you are getting older is that you begin to run out of relatives who are themselves older than you. Inevitably, you will at some stage reach a point in your life where you have no grandparents left.
I recall vividly the days that four of my five died. The fifth was my paternal grandfather. My father’s parents separated when he was a toddler and we had very little contact with his father and the first that we knew of his death was a letter after the event. Some of these stories I will relate over time (to do them all sequentially would be a little depressing at the very least), but today’s Memory is of the night my Gran, my last surviving grandparent, died.
Like the deaths of all of my grandparents, it wasn’t that much of a surprise. Gran’s health had been failing for some time and she was in hospital as she had been having trouble breathing. It turned out that the breathing problems were caused by blood clots which had themselves formed due to her exceedingly sedentary lifestyle. Sadly, moving her to hospital dislodged one of those clots and caused a massive heart attack.
That night would have been memorable anyway, as I was meeting a couple of other lawyers for the first time. They, too, were users of the internet discussion forum which I mentioned last week. Over time, James and Rachel had realised that we all lived within about a mile of one another and, after the usual diary clashes which mean that something which should be done in a few minutes takes days to organise, we arranged to meet up at the local branch of Ha-Ha, one of the more acceptable chain dining pubs.
Poor Rachel. The phone call came just as she walked in through the door and she was greeted by the person she had just rushed home from work to meet heading rapidly in the opposite direction, only to return ten minutes later and announce a fatality in the family.
It did not, I have to admit, put a damper on the evening. I have always believed – and I think and hope that most of my family agree with me on this – that at such times one should celebrate a life, not mourn a death, and so I did just that. James and Rachel, like the good friends they became, were all too happy to help me do that. Helen, on the other hand, was rather disgruntled to pick up a couple of half sozzled lawyers after closing time, as she had thought that the news would drive me home within minutes.
And whilst it was sad to know that Gran wasn’t going to be around any more, I was happy for her, because she hadn’t been happy for many years and, from the things that she said to me – and we used to speak almost every Friday – it was the release she had long wanted. Her death also set in place a chain of events which lead to a rather extraordinary – and, if you believe in such things, spooky – conclusion. But that, too, is a story for another day.