Time Toooooo... Say Goodbye.
(For People With Grandmothers Everywhere)
I spent today at a writing festival in Dalkey, a beautiful place that holds both wonderful and terrible memories for me. It's where my grandparents lived when I was a child, and a lot of my childhood is still there.
Walking through the town after the festival brought back so many memories of my grandmother. We called her Nana Dalkey, because she
A) was my Nana
B) lived in Dalkey.
Kids are so dumb, I swear.
She left us a long time ago, when my daughter was only a baby, and I don’t think I ever cried after. I don’t cry at that kind of thing, not really. Crying is hard, like if I’m going to cry I have to concentrate on not crying until it goes away. I can’t allow myself a cry. But then of course I store it all inside, and so it comes out in fits and spurts at the most inopportune moments.
I always say it’s because I’m not a giant baby, but I do in fact know that it’s actually because I am not in touch with my emotions at all.
When I was a kid staying with my Nana, she brought me to mass, a lot. And she brought me to the church even when there was no mass on, just to say a prayer and light a candle. A lot. Lighting candles was extremely important to her. She had to give her twenty pence pieces and light candles for everyone. I would always have to light candles too, so I lit them for my mam and my dad, and for my other nana. So they’d... not die, or something? I dunno.
God magic eh?
She liked that though, me lighting candles for people, it made her happy.
It was always pretty funny for me, and quite odd. I never, ever could get my head around the God thing, it still doesn’t make sense to me at all. But I loved hanging out with her. I liked when she told me stories about Jesus, because she was telling them to me, she was giving me all of her attention and it made me feel very loved.
So today I walked to that church where I spent so much time listening to my Nana Dalkey. I walked around the grounds and I had a look at the statue outside. It’s a statue of Saint Teresa, with a snake at her feet for some reason...? My Nana used to visit that statue all the time, say prayers and whatnot, and if I’m remembering correctly she sometimes would leave a rose at her feet. I took the name Teresa for my confirmation, because she was my Nana’s favourite saint.
Standing there in front of Saint Teresa, I could see Nana in her wine coloured coat and her beret, blessing herself and smiling down at me. I remembered her telling me how Teresa used to see lots of weird holy stuff and that’s why she joined the nuns. (That’s my Nana’s story, but translated into my words, obviously).
She was so into it that it made me want to be into it as well, so she’d be proud of me. She was proud of me anyway though, when I look back I can see it, she thought I was the business, bless her.
After pondering on that statue for a while in the drizzling rain, I opened the door of the church and walked inside, wondering if I would remember it, it had been so very long.
I stood at the back of the church for a minute, because firstly I haven’t a clue what the heck one is supposed to do inside a church, and secondly, there were some people up the front and I wasn’t sure if I was allowed to be there or what. But nobody told me to get out, so when I felt comfortable to move in a little bit, I did, and I sat on one of the benches (pews?) near the back. I was overwhelmed with the memories. This had been my Nana’s sacred place and now I could almost feel her with me, telling me how Jesus fought a lion with his bare hands or some shit.
That Jesus was a latter day Jack-Ass character and that’s for sure. He’d be a YouTube sensation today.
Then some music started playing, and a young teenaged girl stood in the aisle at the top of the church, and she started singing Andrea Bocelli’s ‘Time to Say Goodbye’. She sang it like an angel. It was beautiful, like bring-tears-to-your-eye-and-a-lump-to-your-throat, beautiful. She walked down the aisle as she sang, and when she got to the end, of the aisle and the song, she and everyone else left. Just walked out.
I was alone.
It was pretty surreal, really.
I walked to the top of the church, where the candles are. And although it would kill me in any other circumstance to give money to the Catholic Church, I put a donation into the candle box and I lit three candles. One for my amazing Nana Dalkey, who loved that church so much. One for my other Nana - who was equally as amazing, of course.
And the third, that was for someone who hasnt been gone for long, and I miss her so much right now that I can’t even allow myself to think about her most days.
And I sobbed my heart out.