warmlove's Diaryland Diary


The Love of Loleta

#Love me and let's walk together, in love and life
Love me and let's get together, and make things right #

‘I'm just hoping for the best in this situation where theres going to be loss and pain...’
I could only really type that, four months ago, in such vague, glib style shaded by the ignorance of what was to come.
There was a back-and-forth between me, all my sisters and Granma. Granma had saved up some money to give us four as a gift of Birthday/Christmas money but because she doesn’t phone me and my sisters, a message was relayed from my Mum to call Granma. That was basically like Granma phoning me by-proxy. Because of (according to Mum) a real fear of being rejected (see me with any man I have been interested in pre-2007 and post-2010….3 years of fearlessness and minor embarrassment) Granma cautiously asked me over the phone if me and my sisters would like this money. I thanked her and said that it would gratefully accept (!) but Vic and Abs made it a bit more complicated when I relayed the message to them…they were concerned there were strings attached and would be deemed disrespectful and almost money-hungry if they phoned her for the essentially first time to thank her for giving them money. Jess was more straight-forward and said she would phone Granma (as she had done before) to thank her. Abs and Vick said they would all three, when Jess came up from Bournemouth to visit them, phone Granma together to thank her. But they didn’t make the call.
The last phone call I had with Granma was the longest one we ever had. I explained why Ab and Vick feel too nervous to phone her but that they are very grateful for the money and want her to know that. It was relaxed and funny and free, I felt like I could be honest and be myself, something previously I hadn’t really been able to be (see all diary entries from 2004). She made a beautiful comment about two blokes who live next door to June in Penge. It was beautiful because a decade ago the comment would have been dripping with homophobia. She said ‘Two boys who live next-door to June bought a house together, they’re not a couple, they’re friends’….the ‘not a couple’ could have been ‘don’t have brown hair’…it was just facts said to encourage me to buy property…it doesn’t have to be with your ‘non-existent’ husband’. I felt so comfortable that I almost told her about the beautiful guy with the incredible sense of humour who I liked for months and months, but felt insecure about whether he liked me, despite lots of evidence pointing to it, and how he probably did after we slept together twice, but probably it was just a 2-night stand and I should have enquired into his interest in me by asking, not by going home with him and having sex instead to confirm…(that’s why I am not buying a house with him….or the last guy the same thing happened with.) but that would have been a bit too much….I was content with the warm and wonderful phone call we had. Granma didn’t want to take my bank details over the phone to transfer the money to then be split between me and the other three, so she asked me to send them on a card in an envelope though the post…I sent a piece of cartridge paper with a pop-up cartoon figure of Frida Kahlo dressed in a way she would approve attached with the details and I said something like: I hope to see you very soon after these tough times, when things are better.
She never got the note and four days later I got a call from Abs saying that June had found Granma on the floor after having a stroke. They didn’t realise the seriousness of the stroke initially and she couldn’t have any visitors. She was moved to a specialist Stroke Recovery Ward in St Thomas’s hospital which gave us false hope really and a few weeks later she died.
They allowed visitors in the last week so I masked megabused-it down. We could talk to her in her unconscious, pain-medicated state..who knows how much she heard or if she got emotional comfort from what she heard. I hope so. There were ridiculous family tensions mainly stirred-up by my Mum who blamed my cousin Andrew for causing Granma’s stroke beacause of the stress he caused her over the years and an aura of pointed superiority my Mum gave off as she talked about the good and consistent relationship she had with Granma. I stayed at Ab, Vick and Henry’s flat (it being ‘ok’ to stay overnight at that time) which was an emotionally stressful place to be for three days…The air thick with Ab and Vick (obviously miserable) chain-smoking spliffs from 5pm to 1am after work and Charlie the dog probably getting a contact high and much stress being cooped-up in a small space.
But all that stuff probably a distraction from the simple sadness of the fact that we were and have now lost Granma. That reassuring strength and warm humour that accompanied so much of our lives was gone, just like that. A young-for-her-age active 86 year old who was stomping around New York City this time last year now seriously ill and then gone a few weeks later. There was a lot religiousness and praying and talk of God from family members around it, which I don’t go for but I saw how these beliefs made Granma who she was and it worked for her. ‘Yes, God-willing’ would be the response to any statement of intention about my life that I made. She lost her grand-child, her son, her daughter, her son-in-law and I’m sure so many other friends and contemporaries over a period of 17 years but I always saw her so strong and determined to just keep going. That said it would be wrong to just put the ‘Steely Matriarch’ label on her. She had that fear of rejection and embarrassment and would assume the worst about how people felt about her and sometimes felt judged. I can’t look back and regret, I just think about how richer all our relationships would be if we could put all that aside, and not now blame and incriminate and guilt-trip.
As I drove down in my Salford Car Hire vehicle for the funeral last Monday (the 2hr train out of the question…cheers Thatcher) I had a feeling of ‘ah, I’ll get to see Dad at least’ truly for a second believing that Dad was still here and that he’d be in the 1st pew row stood next to Mum in his now ‘vintage’ black M&S suit. Granma had shown us, I think at Ffrenchie’s funeral, where her coffin would be put, right above his in one of those above-ground mausoleum things, and I expected to hear her beautiful voice soaring out when the hymns are sang and those doves are released (to fly back to their canny trainers somewhere in Kew Gardens to be re-used at another funeral no doubt). I don’t know how to put any of it in words, as I always say, but I’m trying to just process it and remember the good stuff, just cling to that…

12:33 p.m. - 2020-08-03


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