12.01.21 — Journal

A Sombre New Year

My previous blog post, as I mentioned at its conclusion, was the first of a two-part installation on my trip back home for Christmas and New Year. We left things off during an action-packed Christmas Day, but after this date, our activities were decidedly more sedate for the second week of my time back in the UK due to some news we received on Boxing Day.

On the 26th, we were contacted with the news that my grandma had contracted COVID-19. My parents went to visit her, but me and my sister were unable to due to the poor state of the coronavirus situation in the UK. The next few days were then understandably muted as my parents continued to visit her, with only the occasional walk around our local area as a family to keep our minds occupied.

Although the mood was understandably sombre, I have to say that I’ve never seen such beautiful scenes around the village I grew up in, Worsthorne. We were treated to a few days of snow and some absolutely glorious winter sunsets, which combined to create some stunning views as we meandered through the countryside.

As these days running up to the New Year were otherwise spent together as a family, and because I’ve so many photos of these outdoor moments to share, I’ll share the majority of these photos in an uninterrupted stream before talking about the New Year towards the end of the post.

As you can see, we really were treated to some breathtaking sights in these last few days running up to the New Year! Any plans we may have had for the evening had to be put aside, however, when we were told that my Grandma’s condition had worsened. With my parents once again visiting my Grandma, I welcomed in the New Year by watching the fireworks on the BBC before heading off to bed.

The next day, the first of the New Year, I awoke to the news that my grandma had sadly passed away.

Rather than speak of the next few days I spent in England, I’d like to take a moment to say a few words about my Grandma Mena. Many of you will have never had the luck of meeting her, and those who did will have many a great memory and funny story, so I’ll try to keep it brief here.

Grandma Mena was probably one of the most influential people in my life. From a love of lightbulbs to a hatred of bananas, she had a huge role in shaping me into the person I am today – I feel like I spent so much of my time as a child with her that it was impossible for her not to!

Whilst I was just a baby, she’d often turn the lights in a room on and off, chanting “light, light!” as she did so. The first word I ever uttered was then some simple version of “light” rather than the usual “mama” or “papa”, something I’m sure my parents weren’t best pleased about! From these silly beginnings, I developed an appreciation of and love for all things related to lights – something I still hold to this day. It’s the reason I use a lightbulb as my logo – a logo which now has minimal presence on my website, but which I will be using to sign off this blog post.

I should also probably explain the banana anecdote. If not by my grandma’s seeming desire to blow every lightbulb in our house, my mum was certainly driven up the wall by my grandma’s insistence on feeding me bananas every five minutes. My mum would leave me with Grandma Mena for five minutes, and she’d return to find me with mushy banana slopped all down my bib. When my mum would challenge her about this and ask if she’d fed me yet another banana, she’d respond with an incredulous “no!”

These are two little anecdotes which I think perfectly illustrate the two things I’d like to tell the world about my grandma: her big influence on me in all the best ways, and her warm, caring, and often cheeky personality.

Everybody knew her as a strong-willed Irishwoman who’d just as soon give you a bite of whatever she was eating as she’d stop for a chat with every other person in the street. She certainly faced hardships in her life, from immigrating as a young girl to losing her husband young, and then later the failing of her eyesight and eventually her memory.

Despite all this, however, her mischievous sense of humor and love for everyone around persevered until the very end, and will be forever present in fond memories and hilarious catchphrases that she gifted us over the years! I’m not a religious person, and so I believe that my grandma is now gone from this world, but I take great comfort in the knowledge that her legacy will be passed down through the generations. As I said at the beginning – and whether it’s a love of lights or a distaste for bananas – her impact will live on through me, and I’m sure through many others.

I conclude this brief celebration of her life in the way she signed off everything she ever wrote to me:

God bless.