29 August 2006

Farewell Nanna Jean

My grandmother is dying, not an unexpected event when you're 91, but still a sad one for her family. She has lived very independently at home until only 10 days ago, when she didn't show up for a regular massage appointment, and her nauturopath went to her house, and then called an ambulance. She's been at Albury Base Hospital since then, with my mum and aunt by her side. She has pneumonia and infected kidneys, and her body systems are just shutting down.

Last week she was quite alert, and spent ages telling her daughters what she wants at her funeral, and so on. I imagine it will be a big church affair, as she was a main stay of her church, especially known for her spectacular flower arrangements. She was always a wonderful flower arranger, with many prizes under her belt over decades.

I spoke with her briefly last week - she was only up to a 1 minute talk on the phone - her voice was so weak and almost unrecognisable. Still, I'm glad I called her, even though it was hard to do.

She's really ready to go - last week she said that if there was a button to push that would end it all, she'd push it. The doctors have honoured her wishes; on the weekend they stopped treating her pneumonia and infections, and are only providing palliative care now.

She may have died overnight - I haven't heard yet... she's just been curled up on her bed (in a private room now, thank goodness), breathing shallowly, and only slightly conscious.

This photo of her was taken at her 90th birthday party last year, which was a great event. Family and friends from far and wide came along, and it was such a good idea to hold this sort of a recollection of a life well lived while the person is still alive! She was always beautifully dressed and perfectly coiffured - in fact she used to apologise when caught gardening in 'these old things' (a classic Fletcher Jones' outfit). She was a consummate gardener and florist, and an excellent cook - oooh, those Melting Moments!

My Pop died just after my wedding (21 years ago), so Nanna's been alone since then, and has stayed active, alert, interested and connected with the community around her. She never learnt to drive (although she was a dab hand at controlling the car from the passenger's seat ;) and was known to all the taxi drivers around town.

While I wasn't very close to her - she was quite a formal woman - I have many fond memories of Nanna and Pop's home in Albury where I spent many good times as a child and adult. She taught me to crochet. Trains during the night, the scent of roses, lace antimacassars, fancy crocheted doilies, the smell of freshly ironed linen, the cool feel of a brightly-coloured anodised aluminium cup in my hand, and the sound of magpies singing in the morning always remind me of Nanna.

2 September Update

She's still hanging in there - getting weaker every day, sometime rallying a bit, then getting worse.... the nurses who've worked in palliative care think it will only be a matter on another few days...


  1. ive tried to say something a few times but it all feels kind of inadequate, except this was a lovely post to read and i felt better knowing that a life had been so well lived. best wishes to you and your family.

  2. oh sweetheart... she sounds like a wonderful lady.

  3. It's a beautiful tribute to your Nan, Jejune.

  4. what a horrible time for you....it sounds like she's in ok spirits though - just weak and tired. Will be thinking of you Jejune...

  5. Thank you all - your kind words are lovely...

    My apologies for Blogger &/or my email having a spaz attack... I've changed some settings to see if that works better.

    When I last spoke to my mum, on Friday night, Nanna had stopped eating and drinking, and was just curled up in bed, breathing unevenly. She's on morphine, and can hear, but not speak. She isn't being treated for her pneumonia or kidney infection (her choice), so we're exepcting 'The Call' any time now...


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