Rest in peace Nana

White cross against a blue sky

At the weekend my Mum phoned to tell me that my paternal grandmother — whom we called ‘Nana’ — had died. She’d been ill for some time, and it wasn’t entirely unexpected, but the news of the death of a family member is always a sad time. Mum was in tears as she spoke on the telephone.

A conversation at work on Tuesday:

Gareth: My grandmother died at the weekend.

Colleague: Oh, I’m sorry.

Gareth: Thanks. Do you think I could get off for the funeral?

Colleague: I would imagine so.

Gareth: Great! It’s in Australia.

I’m not going, of course, but we have been invited to send our condolences via the magic of e-mail. My brother sent me an e-mail which began “Is there anything (appropriate) you would like said at Nana’s funeral?” It’s nice that he felt that he had to qualify it with the word “appropriate”. Actually, knowing me, I’m glad he did.

The thing is, writing something like that is hard at the best of times but I’m finding it all the harder given that I only ever met my Nana on — as far as I can recall — three occasions: once in the late-70s (1978? 1979?) when she came to visit; once at my Dad’s cousin Ruth’s wedding in the early 80s; and the last time was in the mid-80s (1985 or 1986?) not that long after Dad had initially recovered from his triple brain haemorrhage. So the last time I saw her was maybe about 22 years ago.

Nana and her new husband Arthur — my grandfather had died when my Dad was in his late teens or early twenties — moved to New Zealand in October 1971, a month before I was born. They returned to live in England for a couple of years in the early 80s, which was why we could see them at the time of Ruth’s wedding, but decided that the UK was too expensive so moved to Australia to be closer to her other siblings there.

My brother was able to visit her in 1998 when he went to his friend Phil’s wedding. I had hoped to see her in 1992 when the National Youth Choir was touring Oz, but last minute plans meant that we didn’t go near Melbourne or Victoria, which would have made such a meeting possible.

So, what to write …? She was my father’s mother, my grandmother, and as such I loved her, it’s just I wish I’d got the chance to know her a bit more. May light perpetual shine upon you Nana. I hope you and Dad are having a party!

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Gareth Saunders

I’m Gareth J M Saunders, 52 years old, 6′ 4″, father of 3 boys (including twins). Enneagram type FOUR and introvert (INFP), I am a non-stipendiary priest in the Scottish Episcopal Church, I sing with the NYCGB alumni choir, play guitar, play mahjong, write, draw and laugh… Scrum master at Safeguard Global; latterly at Sky and Vision/Cegedim. Former web architect and agile project manager at the University of St Andrews and previously warden at Agnes Blackadder Hall.

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