I’m reblogging this post as yesterday would have been my Gran’s birthday. She had left the UK to return to the warmer climates of her homeland, Barbados. She was such a lovely lady. Kind, generous, loved people and had a laugh (which I have inherited!) which was infectious. Nothing was too much for my gran. Her door was always open and her kitchen full of visitors, be they family, friends or strangers! Those days have almost, if not gone where there was always someone you could go to, who would be there cooking, baking, singing, laughing and giving thanks for blessings. My gran had her challenges and she fought through them courageously with God always in her sight.
“Keep your head on.” My gran would always say, always advise.
“It’s your sister, calling to let you know that gran died this morning. Speak to you soon.” Click.
I froze. I’d been checking my messages that morning as I’d been too tired to do it the evening before as I normally do. I sat on the edge of the bed. Did I hear that right? I replayed the message. Yes! I’d heard it right. I was silent for a moment, then I cried and cried.
Lately, I’d been having dreams about my gran. I had also planned a surprise visit to see her in July for her birthday. But she was gone, my gran was gone. I don’t know how I managed it but I got ready for work – it was like someone else was dressing me. I held back the tears as I left for work.
I went through the motions with my interactions with colleagues, smiling in the right places and being polite to everyone. They would not have suspected that I was too quiet – only if they worked in the same office as myself. However, when a colleague (who shares an office with me) came into work, I couldn’t hold back any longer and told him that my gran had passed away and I was contemplating booking a flight to Barbados to attend her funeral. He was sympathetic, helpful and willing to accommodate me where he could – and gave suggestions of flight operators. I came across a flight company who were able to offer a good deal. I gave handover notes to my colleague and commenced surfing the net to look for flights. I booked a flight which was to depart from Manchester on Friday – today was Wednesday. I also booked return train tickets from Leeds to Manchester.
Fortunately, I had worked like a Trojan and was totally up-to-date with my work. I informed my Line Manager and the rest of the team that I would be leaving work in a few days in order to attend my gran’s funeral and that I would be away for 2 weeks. Before leaving the office, I read my emails of condolences, gave thanks, said my goodbye to my colleague and before my tears escaped I left the office and set off for home.
I ran upstairs, opened the bedroom door and grabbed my suitcase from on top of the wardrobe and threw it on the bed. Here I was packing for what seemed like a holiday, not a funeral, light clothing, beach wear, sun hat, sunglasses, sandals. My partner, at the time, rang to say he couldn’t find any cheap flights at such short notice. I said, don’t worry, I’ve found one and I fly on Friday. He said “Wow!” He hadn’t expected that answer. Luckily, having been on holiday a few months earlier at Christmas, I did not need to stock up on the usual holiday paraphernalia. I rang my sister to let her know my flight details and intended arrival. I finished packing, booked a taxi for 4.00am and went to bed. I looked at a picture of my gran on my bedside cabinet and whispered – “I’m coming gran”. Then I fell asleep.
Dawn was breaking through the bedroom curtains – but I was up, dressed, tidied the house and waited for the taxi to arrive. I dragged my suitcase downstairs into the hall. I opened the front door and the cold, fresh air hit me in the face. Beep! Beep! The taxi has arrived. I took a deep breath, locked the front door, hauled my suitcase in the taxi and then set off for the train station.
On arrival at station, paid taxi driver then went to self-service ticket machine to collect tickets. Good thing I wrapped up as it was very cold on the platform. I caught the train from Leeds to Manchester Piccadilly, then caught another train from there to Manchester Airport. At the airport, I was thankful that there were no queues and checked-in, attended by two smiling attendants. As I waited to board the plane, I felt quite tearful, the realization that my gran had died and lack of sleep perhaps.
On the plane I had an aisle seat. I leaned my head against the headrest and looked out of the window to my right. The sun was shining. Passengers boarding the plane were in jovial mood, one of whom took the window seat next to me. The flight food, well it was flight food, but pleasant enough and filled a gap. Flight entertainment was the film ‘Devil Wears Prada’ starring Meryl Streep which helped to pass the 8½ flight.
I’d reached Grantley Adams Airport. I was here back in Barbados – my parents and grandparents birthplace. I didn’t rush to get my things together, instead I waited patiently then disembarked onto the tarmac. The heat swallowed me up, it was hot but beautiful all at the same time. The airport building and administration had changed a lot from when I was last here – could it be more than 5 years! It had always been welcoming but now it looked modern, spacious and organised. I handed my passport and papers to the clerk at the passport desk and went through to collect my luggage. This part of the journey hadn’t changed in line with the other improvements and I waited some time before finally retrieving my suitcase. I went out to meet my sister and cousin. We hugged, happy to see each other again despite the circumstances.
The funeral, previously arranged for the following week, had now been brought forward to Monday. I had made it. I could say goodbye to gran.
If you have someone you are thinking of at this time too, let your prayer-filled thoughts be encouraged. Give thanks for the privilege, the opportunity and lessons learnt or being learned from having that person (s) in your life.
Thank you God for allowing me to have another day to remember one who I loved so dear.
Thank you God for humbling my soul and letting the tears flow as I remember her when she was near.
Thank you God for teaching me how the passage of time, strengthens my will to carry on.
Thank you God for showing me the way to your arms, and that one hundred per cent I can depend on.
Thank you God for reminding me of the love those years gone have left in my heart.
Thank you God for challenging thoughts as I risk giving up before I start.
Thank you God for giving me someone and others who have stood the test of time.
Thank you God for in my lifetime, in my days, my nights, my years I had a Gran like mine.