Gone But Not Forgotten: Memories of Grandma
Of course I miss it. I miss those Saturday nights where voices were raised and tempers were high, I miss those days where I constantly choked on cigarette smoke and I miss that Boxing day when I tore open the Christmas wrapping paper to find a book of children’s sea shantys staring back at me. It was then that I learnt the art of patience, the art of holding my breath and the art of false appreciation. I am now thankful for those lessons.
Is it possible to lose something without knowing it has been lost? I did; at least for a little while anyway. A whole day had passed without my father telling me, and it wasn’t as if he didn’t have ample opportunity. I have forgiven him now and I do understand, I really do, but it doesn’t change the fact that he covered up the truth. I was planning to visit at her that weekend, although I knew she did not want me to. She got her wish; she made sure of that. It wasn’t until Friday evening that I realised that she was gone. She was gone and never bothered to say goodbye. She was gone and never even tried. She was gone and was never coming back.
I had lost the strange games of scrabble that no longer allowed bonus points for a seven letter word – unless you were the one who had instigated that rule in the first place; I lost that annoying pet name she used to call me by, I lost the joint birthday where we exchanged gifts, and I lost a piece of myself.
There was an absence, a black hole that I desperately tried to fill by pretending that I could hear her voice in wind, but it was all a hollow fantasy. Stupid rages filled up much of my day, punching the walls, yelling at the ceiling, kicking the bed and punishing my innocent stuffed toys as I threw them around the room. But tears only fell for about fifteen minutes, something I feel increasingly guilty about, considering the hour-long weep I had over a B in an exam; considering that three weeks earlier I left her all alone because I was bored of the conversation; considering that I flinched every time she tried to kiss me. The world’s priorities really need a closer check.
No matter how difficult losing something may be, one always has to remember that with every loss, there is a gain; something that I always had, but never took the slightest notice of was now the most precious thing in the world. Memories. Because if you ever lose something that you are able to remember then you know it was worthwhile having, and you can take joy in the fact that you had something that millions of others didn’t.
Whenever I see a tub of Flora I remember her buttered pizzas, a packet of cigarettes remind me of the smell of her clothes; when Elton John is on the telly, I can see those large round glasses circling her face, if I go past the park, those same squirrels we used to feed are right there. Well, maybe not the same ones.
Sitting somewhere in the depths of my cupboard drawer of dried felt tips and rotting conkers, a silver certificate holder lies empty and unused. She bought me that five years too early and I could see how excited she was by the prospect of seeing it filled. She never got that chance, but I’ll make sure that unlike all her other gifts, this one won’t go to waste.
Just looking up from my laptop I can see three cheap lion king toys from McDonalds, three cheap toys that she bought for me with a happy meal of salty French fries and artery-clogging burgers, three cheap toys that are never leaving my room. Even living in this house, the very same house she grew up in – I can’t turn a corner without seeing her somewhere in the décor. Whether it be a photo album or an old dictionary, she is always there. Watching over everything.
‘Lose’ is such a deceptive word; it suggests being deprived of something, or the failure of an action; and while I know that something is missing, I haven’t been deprived of it, I still have it and nothing can take that away. To lose is to try again, to lose is to find. By remembering what was once there before, is to find that it was never missing in the first place.