Thursday, February 16, 2012

Sheila Granier: March 10th 1918 –– February 16th 2012

My mother died at ten past one this afternoon, in a nursing home in Dalkey. She was 93. Euphemisms aside, her 'passing' actually was peaceful. Over the last decade her osteoarthritis had worsened; she had become house-bound, then room-bound, then essentially chair-bound, her world shrinking. Recently she began to have trouble eating and drinking. She was very frail. They had moved her to a private room around two weeks ago.  My wife and seven-year-old son had just called in to see her. I think she knew they were there. She was able to make small sounds of acknowledgement and to respond when her hand was squeezed.

After they left, I was sitting holding her hand when I realised there was a change; her breathing, which had been fast and shallow, was slowing. Her hand was unresponsive, lax. I called in the nearest person I could find, who happened to be Alice, the marvelous woman who runs the place. She brought in a couple of nurses, who were both efficient and warm, truly caring professionals (despite the fact that this would obviously be routine for them).

I could barely speak at first. One of the nurses brought me a cup of tea. I kept looking at mum, detecting phantom movements, as if she was still breathing, then I'd glance out the window at the view I have become so accustomed to, a row of neat, shingled bungalows running uphill along a little footpath beside the nursing home: back-gardens with wind still tousling the cabbage palms, blurry pale blue rips in the rushing clouds, inexorable life.

My wife and cousins (who also happen to be close friends) have been brilliant. Arrangements, phone calls, etc. have been made. I am writing this now partly because I am unsure what else to do with myself.

Mum was second eldest in a family of seven. She often said she was always 'the peacemaker'. She never married and I grew up with my grandparents. Though I believe she was a popular and stylish young woman, by the time she settled in Dublin her circle of friends became small, mostly family (two sisters lived nearby). As her parents aged, she became their carer, as, eventually, I became hers. She was a very loving mother, immensely kind and gentle. And now the world is minus her. 


DockBlogger said...

may she rest in peace. and peace for you and your family too. beautiful post you've written.

Mark Granier said...

Thanks DockBlogger. I appreciate the kind thoughts.

Ms Baroque said...

Mark, I'm really sorry to hear this news. Your mother made a big impression on me when I met her: gracious, and indeed stylish in a deep way, though I met her at the room-bound stage; she was very much someone I'd have loved to see again.

You've written a beautiful post. Lots of love to you and the family. x

Mark Granier said...

Katy, I'm so glad you both had a chance to meet. Mum was, very quietly, amazing, and it has taken her (very quiet, 'peaceful') death for the full import to slam home. Grief is, in itself, quite amazing, despite being utterly commonplace, something most of us go through at some stage (and of course there are repeat performances in store for many). I knew it all in theory, have lost some close people, including one friend who was like a father to me. But this is something else: physical, visceral, a whole artic-lorry-load of landscape-altering weather. Nothing looks the same, nor ever will again I think. And that, of course, is how it should be. Many thanks for the kind words. They have not gone amiss. X

puthwuth said...

Sorry to hear of your loss, Mark --sincere condolences. DW

Mark Granier said...

Thanks David, much appreciated.