For some reason the jet lag is worse today and while it’s only about quarter to nine at night, I’m knocked flat. Perhaps I’m absorbing some of my Gran’s eternal exhaustion. Apparently, when you get to 100 it’s pretty knackering just waking up and finding somewhere to sit down.
She sits down these days in the same armchair she’s had for years however transported to my uncle and aunt’s house where it sits outside her little bedroom suite in front of the fire waiting patiently for her to spend her days knitting and receiving visitors in state.
While quite a few of the family haven’t made it, the house has still been crammed with cousins and uncles and aunts and great uncles and great aunts and second cousins and first cousins once removed and god-parents and honorary uncles and... well without making us sound like the Brady bunch and Little House on the Prairie put together, it’s actually been wonderful to see people, some of whom, frankly, I haven’t seen since Gran’s 90th.
Standing in the dining room helping the table-layers and listening to the hubble and bubble of conversation throughout the house it reminded me of being a small child, staying at my Gran’s house and being put to bed while the grown-ups sat outside my door in the living-room quaffing crisps, scotch and home-made beer and playing cards. The rise and rumble of conversation, the family catch phrases, the sound of laughter through the walls... I used to carefully open the door and sneak out to sit behind the couch, blithely unaware that everyone could see me, just because I wanted to be close enough to touch it.
I do want my little man to have this, this feeling of muted chaos as the family moves through old and familiar conversational paths, the teasing and chiding, the laughing and complaining, card games and word games, family histories and mysteries. I do want him to have a sibling, someone he can fight with and play with and complain about us to and grow up with and grow old with. Someone who will remember him as a child when we are long gone and be there to hear when things go right or things go wrong. I know that this isn’t going to happen and so I can only try to keep him close to the family he has as he grows.
Gran is now past enjoying this familiar crowd and is only accepting visitors one at a time in her chair by the fire. The rest of us talk about her unashamedly as though doing a puzzle where the pieces are her life, her family, her history.
I have a lot to say about my Gran but whether or not I can ever say it all, who knows? Tomorrow is the final leg of this birthday extravaganza and then I go home, in hope that my own life will be as full and as fruitful as hers.