A quick trip home, but not for fun

Monday, 31 August 2015

A week ago today we received the sad, but not altogether unexpected, news that my granny had passed away.

She was 91.



One of my first makes of 2014 was a crochet blanket for her 90th birthday, which my mum said that she really loved.





This was her and her three daughters (my mum is back right) at her 90th birthday dinner, in January 2014.





Up until around the time of her 90th birthday she had been quite mobile and able to get out and about. Then she became increasingly more housebound, although she was always able to remain in her own home.

This was her and Fraser last summer. She was delighted that he was such a good baby who would sit on her knee without squiggling and trying to get away! He was a charmer from an early age!






I love this photo taken of me and the boys with her, back in October 2011. She was still keeping good health there and the difference between that photo and the one taken with us all this summer less than four years later is quite clear.




Because we are only able to make the trip home a few times a year, we could see her getting frailer with each visit.




So, on Tuesday morning we headed off on the journey home, just four weeks after we returned from our summer visit. It's a five hour drive and around 2 and a half hours on the ferry. 

It was such a beautiful evening to be at sea. Calum (12) took these photos from the deck of the boat using the new camera that he and I bought together in the summer.

























We set up camp in a corner of the ferry, the boys and their four cousins, who were all excited about a trip across to granny and shen's and a few days off school, even though they were also sad about the reason for our trip.





Those of you who have travelled across the Minch will understand why Calum took so many photos of the sea! It was as calm as a loch, and not at all as temperamental is it so often is!























He practised his wildlife photography too.




And of course, he had to get a shot of the happy sight that is Lewis on the horizon.





We arrived at my mum and dad's at about 8.30 in the evening, and then my brother and I had a super quick change before dashing off out to the Wake.

On Wednesday it was the day of the funeral. Island funerals take place a lot quicker than those on the mainland do. After the service at an island funeral, as I've already written about here, the men present all line up on the road outside the church and take it in turns to carry the coffin while they walk along the road. The male relations of the deceased walk at the front of the procession and don't take part in carrying the coffin. James (15), Calum (12) and their 13 year old cousin Finlay were all old enough to take part in the procession.

Once the men have started heading to the graveyard, the women come and pass on their condolences to the female family members. Traditionally women didn't go to the graveside, and although some women choose to do so now, it is still the case that most of them do not.

James, Calum and Finlay went to the graveside and took part in laying their great granny to rest, which was quite a big thing for them all. When I was growing up I didn't know anyone who had a living great grandparent. It was quite special for the boys and their cousins to have one, and for so long too. Granny had 7 grandchildren and 11 great grandchildren.

After the ladies had all been to talk to my mum and her sisters at the church, we headed back to the house to pick up the younger children before going to the church hall at my mum and dad's church where the ladies there had laid on a beautiful lunch for the family members and close friends.

It's funny to think that my granny isn't there any more. We stayed on the island until Friday, and on the Thursday as we headed home from a trip to town I had it in the back of my mind that we should call in and see granny on our way back to my parents'. She lived less than two miles away from them and every day we went to town we would call in to hers on our way home.



My granny faced more than her fair share of heartache in her life. She lost her only son when he was only in his early 20s, a few years before I was born. Then the year after I was born she lost her husband. She also lost her youngest grandaughter in a car accident just over 10 years ago. She was only 20.

Now though, we believe she is at peace and her heartaches are forgotten about.


Last summer, when I was round one afternoon, she asked me to take this photo of a photo she had. I actually can't remember now why she asked me to take it! I think it was so that I would have a photo of her with my grandfather. She loved to tell me the story of when after I was born, on the first time my parents came to my grandparents' house with me, that my grandfather was so proud that he wrapped me up in a coat and walked the length of the village to show me off to one of his friends.

I don't know how many times she told me that story, and since it was such a happy memory for her, it seems quite fitting to finish this post with it and the photo she wanted me to remember.




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