My nan, Ruth Gothard, died last Tuesday.

I’m not posting looking for sympathy, I’m trying to make sense of what I’m feeling.

She had Alzheimer’s, and didn’t know who we were, her children and her grandchildren. She hadn’t known for a long time. She lived a long way from me, too far for me to drive and back in a day, and so I have to admit I didn’t see her every often. I think it was about three years ago I last saw her, and she didn’t look like my nan.

Her hair wasn’t right, the colour and the style let go by the people in the home, and she wasn’t wearing the right clothes either. She kept putting biscuits in her pockets ‘for later’ and then forgetting they were there. She had our photos on the wall, but she couldn’t link them to us.

Relationships on that side of the family have been up and down over the years, and when I was younger we often went long stretches of time without seeing her. I wouldn’t say that we were close, but we were family and I will miss her.

Alzheimer’s took her from us a long time ago, and I’m finding it difficult to grieve in an ‘appropriate’ way. Friends keep offering sympathy, which I don’t need. I’m glad she is finally at peace and in a way I’m sad it took so long, as my most recent memories are of someone who looked like my nan, sounded like my nan but really wasn’t her. It’s tricky to explain, and I’m not sure I’m doing such a good job of it now.

She collected bells and played the organ, neither of which she was encouraged to keep doing once she was moved to the care home (least said about that place the better, I’m amazed she lasted as long as she did there, really). I suppose now I have to think back, to sort through the memories and bring the happy ones to the front.

Like the times we were allowed through the gate into next-doors garden to count the fish in the pond. Looking at the garden full of gnomes around the corner. All the well meaning knitted jumpers as we were growing up, and my futile attempts at knitting – it looked like a dishcloth and I never tried again!

Sleep tight, nan



Filed under Other than school

2 responses to “Nan

  1. Mr S

    It’s a story that sounds very familiar. My Grandma S died in the spring of 1993 and I think I visited her in the home once in the previous 7 years. It was a conscious family decision that as I was young I shouldn’t remember her that way but remember her the way she was. Sadly I was 5 when she first started to develop Alzheimer’s so I have very few memories of her – the main one being the photo of her cutting her golden wedding cake with my Grandad, it was taken not long before she died and she didn’t know who he was that day but he had the photo on the fireplace anyway.

    I understand fully that you don’t know how you feel, the emotion that I felt for a long time was one of guilt that I didn’t feel sad about her passing. It was quite some time before I came to realise that part of the reason for a lack of feeling was that she had been taken from us a number of years before and the grief and sadness had been spread over that time. From your description it sounds like you have done something similar.


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