Monday, 28 December 2009


My Grandmother was a crumpled heap on the hospital bed, she looked utterly insubstantial. The disarray of limbs, joints and digits, ill-defined by the bed sheets thrown over them, barely seemed to suggest any sense of mass at all. They were just there.

It wasn't easy seeing her lying there: gravity cruelly altered the contours of her 94-year-old face, seemed to give a sense of weight that was missing from the rest of her, to diminish the life and spirit. She was incorporeal, a ghost.

She didn't know me at first, but welcomed my presence. She complained that she was thirsty, so I reached for the beaker on the tray by the bed. It had a spill-proof lid with a spout, like the ones I remember drinking from as a child. I held it as she took a few sips: the ease at which I was able to assist was inversely proportionate to my ability to bear that moment. (Oddly, my recollection of that moment is that it was already dark outside, the lighting being that of the lamps on the ward. It wasn't the case though, the skies were bright and clear and the sun had almost an hour before it would set.)

My mother had gone to find a nurse, who came and helped my grandmother out of bed and into the chair. I stood away and looked out of the window for a few moments, and then when I turned round and saw her sat upright, it was as though the life had returned to her eyes: no less frail overall, but her spirit - as addled as it is - stronger than her body.


Zhoen said...

We are all stronger when we are on our own two feet.

Fire Byrd said...

What a bitter sweet post. I felt your pain on the one hand and on the other your Grandmothers spirit.
Love and strength to you.

tattytiara said...

There are few things as unpredictable as the human spirit.

trousers said...

Zhoen, yes, and I would do well to remember those words for myself :)

Fire Byrd, thank you. You're right about bitter sweet, definitely.

tattytiara, I refer you to my above comment to Zhoen :)