Monday 21 August 2017

The ghosts of them live on inside of us

Brendan's maternal grandmother came to live in the west Cork area, above, but was originally from Kenmare in Kerry.
Brendan's maternal grandmother came to live in the west Cork area, above, but was originally from Kenmare in Kerry.
Brendan O'Connor

Brendan O'Connor

I only knew one of my grandparents and that was briefly. Nana lived with us when I was small. She was my mother's mother. As an older man I now understand how this might have been difficult for my dad. But apparently not. Dad and Nana were great pals. Indeed I gather he would be a bit put out when she went off on a skite to some other family member for a while.

I only have a couple of memories of her and who knows if they are real memories? Apparently, I would come home from Mrs Denis's nursery school and throw myself into an old red chair in the kitchen and command her to put milk in my bottle and wash it. Some of my alleged memories of Mrs Denis's are disputed however. I'm fairly sure I used to walk home from there on my own some days. Let's face it, it wasn't far away and things were different back then. The rest of my family claim this couldn't have happened. Personally, I think they are guilty of applying the norms of now to 40 years ago.

I also think I remember the night Nana died. I was seven, playing in the garden with one of my cousins. There were lots of relations around so it was a festive time for us kids. And then my uncle came out and told us to keep it down because Nana was dead. She died there in the room in our house, her last days spent surrounded by family and in what was then her own home. And that's all I have. That's my grandparenting experience in full. The rest of them were dead before I was born and I've only found out about them in dribs and drabs since.

Please sign in or register with Independent.ie for free access to Opinions.

Sign In

Don't Miss

Editor's Choice