There’s a practice in my culture where you’re not supposed to eat when a grandparent (and perhaps any close relative) dies. I think the reasoning is that being overcome by grief makes you lose your appetite.
When I was a kid I used to think it was symbolic of the fact that the grandparent was no longer around to care/provide for the grandchild.
My great-aunt passed away this morning, in the same hospital my grandmother (her sister) died almost three decades ago.
We called her Aunty Yaa, and she was the last of my grandmother’s siblings alive, a generation has passed on.
My siblings and I, we sort of owe our existence to her – she introduced my parents (before they’d be parents) and played matchmaker, but I don’t hold that against her.
She lived a long, long fulfilling life and always treated me lovingly; I lived with her and my great-uncle Dan briefly when my parents’ marriage ended.
They’d recall stories of their travels and she’d talk about my grandmother, whom I never really knew, and for a while I felt like a child again.
I didn’t get to see her much after that brief stay, my great-uncle Dan passed away a few years later, that was about the last time I saw her.
For my mom, it’s little like she’s lost her mother all over again, and that’s hard to take.
On Sunday she called home and my aunt B. held the phone up to Aunty Yaa so she could hear her breath, and I could tell she was comforted.
I’m sad that she’s gone, that I’ll never see her again, she was the only ‘grandmother’ I had.
It’s a kind of dull grief that surrounds and touches everything around me; I haven’t felt this kind of sorrow in a while.
If there’s life after death, then she’s in a better place, happy and reunited with her husband, her siblings, her mother, her friends… all together again. And that is comforting.
So there’ll be no talk of food today; instead I’ll leave you with this:
Sinead O’Connor singing ‘Lay Your Head Down’….