Another Death At Home

My sweet lovely Nanna died on Monday.

She broke her hip in the early hours of Saturday in the bathroom of her nursing home and spent her final days in hospital, surrounded by her three daughters, various son-in-laws and an assortment of grandchildren.

I had said goodbye to Nanna many times. She tried to prepare everyone for her death, declaring at every family gathering that “this might be the last time we’re all together”.

When Dad and I set off on our grand cycling adventure through Vietnam in late 2006, we agreed that if his mum died during our two-week holiday, we wouldn’t abandoned the trip and go home for the funeral.

So I thought I was prepared for Nanna’s death. She was 93, after all, with Alzheimers, oesteoperosis, cataracts, stomach problems and poor hearing.

It turns out I was not prepared for a broken hip. Although I know it’s common … and an almost death sentence.

The thought of my sweet nimble Nanna (she gave up tennis at 68!) lying in a hospital in pain made me want to fly home to hold her hand. To let her know how much she has always meant to me.

But when my aunt told me Nanna was barely conscious, sedated and on morphine, I decided it could be a wasted trip. And the next morning she was gone — there wasn’t enough time for me to get there to hold her hand.

So I’m not going back for the funeral. Nanna knew I loved her. I told her many many times. My family also knows I love them all.

Nanna’s funeral will be held in Brisbane on Monday. I will be thinking of her, remembering her kindness, her wonderful cooking, her lovely blue eyes, her permed hair … and her hands – the hands that put eye cream in my eye at night when I was 10, the hands that knitted me a beautiful red cardigan when I was 12 and the hands that I watched prepare many “TV dinners”.

I still hear Nanna from time to time. My daughter has the same fake laugh, the polite heh-hehe-heh that Nanna used to use when something wasn’t all that funny but worth laughing at because it came from one of her grandkids. (Miss M also has my Dad’s big booming laugh for when things really¬†are funny.)

I’m glad Nanna met Miss M on Christmas Day in 2009, even though she forgot whose baby she was within a few hours.

It’s been hard on all the family, watching Nan fade into the mists of Alzheimers. She was the centre of the family for so many years, a loving mother-of-four, grandmother of nine and great-grandmother of 10.

We will all miss you, Nanna.


8 years ago

By: Barbara

A career girl who dropped out, traveled, found love, and never got around to going home again. Now wrangling a cross-cultural relationship and two third culture kids.


  1. Wow, very poignant, Barbara. One of the worst things about living abroad is the inability to just fly home at a moment’s notice. Seeing loved ones get older is tough. I never thought I’d see the day, for some reason. With my own parents in their 70s, every time I speak to them, I can’t help but wonder whether it’ll be the last time. Macabre, I know. Although it does help me to be all the more patient and positive. My heartfelt condolences. Sounds like she lived a full life surrounded by people who loved her.
    James @ Fly, Icarus, Fly recently posted..Geocaching Vietnam

  2. oh, darling nanna. please know our thoughts are with you and your family.
    wandering educators recently posted..Spoiler Alert! How to Create a Grim Grinning Ballroom Ghost

  3. Barbara, we are so sorry for your loss. It sounds like you had many great years with your Nanna and I’m sure she knew how much she was loved. Miss M will treasure that photo of the two of them together. My grandpa passed away when I was three and the picture of me sitting on his lap is one of my favorites.
    cosmoHallitan recently posted..Going Inside the Cu Chi Tunnels

    • Barbara says:

      Thank you CH. She did know how much she was loved and she told us often that she’d had a wonderful life and had no regrets. That’s quite comforting, even though I will really miss her.

  4. Sally says:

    Aww, I’m so sorry. I know how hard it can be to be far away from home when bad things happen. I always want to be at home… even though I know there’s nothing I can do to “fix” things. My well wishes to you & your family.
    Sally recently posted..Weeklyish Challengey Thingie: Look Like a Lady

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