“When there’s no one left in the living world who remembers you, you disappear from this world. We call it the Final Death. Our memories, they have to be passed down by those who knew us in life – in the stories they tell about us.”
The last five years have been hard for us as a family. It has made me realise that my family’s oldest generation has gone and the newest generation is growing up fast.
In 2014 while on our European honeymoon I suddenly lost one of my grandfathers from an aneurysm. I can remember the early morning call so clearly. He had been told that he had it many years ago and had the choice to operate but decided to roll the dice and live his life, and that he did. He knew that when it erupted it would kill him. I guess we all knew that but you can never prepare for it. Deep down he had a heart of gold and would do anything for anyone and give you the shirt off his back. I have so many memories of him making various items out of timber and then selling them at the local markets. I am not sure how much timber I would have wasted trying to help out but I remember it being quite fun. His big bellied laugh was so infectious and it’s something that still makes me smile when I see a vision or a photo of him.
In 2016 my other grandfather was fighting a battle with a melanoma. He had been fighting with it for a while until it just got too much for him and he peacefully lost his fight. I received the call while in Indonesia on holidays that he had passed away. This rocked me but I felt that I had started preparing some time ago that he may not pull through. His four sons and his two grandsons were his pallbearers and this was such a special moment for me to lay my remaining grandfather to rest. It was a great send off for a great man. My fondest memories of him were the weekend visits with my dad in the early years. He introduced me to The Three Stooges and Ginger Megs. We would wake up at such a ridiculous hour just to sit there together and laugh our arses off. I still to this day find them amusing. We would also go fishing, view the massive coal ships at the port and check out all the coal trains waiting to be loaded. He was a train driver so that was his passion.
One of my grandmothers passed before I was born so I don’t really know much about her but I am told that she was pretty awesome. It’s something I wish I had spoke to my grandfather about before he passed away just to get some kind of insight to the woman he knew.
My other grandmother was fighting fit at the age of 91 with exception to a few creaks and cracks and a little bit of memory loss. It was amazing how she could tell me stories from when she was a teenage girl but intrigued me how she couldn’t tell me what she had for lunch. I ended up asking her to start a journal for me of her life as I had not known much about where she came from. That journal is now such a special part of me as there was things she recalled that not even her own family knew.
In September 2018 she got a bad case of pneumonia that knocked her for six. My mother rang me and told me that gran was not travelling too well so I decided to make the trek to visit her. It’s something that I am so grateful to have been able to do.
My beautiful Betty passed away a few days later. The morning she passed I made the decision to go and sit with her. I have never been so anxious in my life. I had never seen a deceased body let alone a woman that I loved so much. I walked into her room and she looked so peaceful. Everything I had imagined her to be. I held her hand and I kissed her on the forehead. My anxiety had disappeared. It was such a sad but calming moment. It was a special time with her and something I will never forget.
Five years on and my heart is still aching. I had so much love and time for these people and I am not sure if that piece of my heart will ever mend. I know that they have passed on but our memories together will always be present and never forgotten.
I think the most saddest thing from these passings was how little we knew about our families history within this generation and the fact that now we may never know.
Ask the question. Where did you come from?