Many people are grieving this year due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Others are grieving for lost loved ones, myself included. Five years ago, I wrote the following words after the death of my Nanna H:
“As we approach Christmas this year, I find myself with mixed emotions. I am grieving for the very recent loss of my grandmother, who I was fortunate to have in my life for over thirty-three years. Her death was partly expected, but still very sudden, given that she spent time in hospital before her body succumbed to old age. She leaves behind my Grandad, her husband of nearly sixty years. He is disabled following a series of strokes, and my Nan was his carer at their home. While she was in hospital, he spent time in a nursing home, but now he has returned to their bungalow, alone. He thinks we will forget about him.”
Grandad died just before Christmas in 2017. His birthday was Christmas Eve, and when we were children, I remember big family gatherings every year as we celebrated birthdays and Christmas combined. Those memories are precious, and they are the reason why I love Christmas. Earlier this year my other Grandad died, just before the national lockdown in March. He had been ill for a long time and we didn’t expect him to make it through last Christmas, but he hung in. His military training must have assisted.
Now only my Nanna G remains, who recently celebrated her 90th birthday, albeit quietly at home in the socially distanced company of neighbours and some close family members. I was upset not to be with her, but we spoke on the phone and I will hopefully see her from a distance over Christmas. This is the first Christmas that Nan will spend alone in her long life. She has a large family, but some older family members and her beloved son have now passed on. Her dogs died during the pandemic and that ends another lifetime commitment. My Nan and Grandad rescued and nurtured many stray dogs over the years, including an emaciated abandoned pregnant crossbreed who was in an extremely poor state. They nursed Maggie back to health and she birthed all her puppies successfully. One became my sister’s dog and stayed with his mother at our grandparents’ house.
This Christmas might be small and quiet, but the memories are loud and busy in my mind. What are your memories of Christmas? How different does it look this year?
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