About 15 minutes ago, my grandmother passed away. It's been coming for a while, she was 91 and the last few weeks have been particularly hard on my mother who has been in daily trying to make her as comfortable as possible at her hospice. So in one sense it's a relief for all concerned, not least of all Nan.
But that's not how grief works. I saw her a couple of weeks ago, when I was at least able to show her the monument in Western Australia to a group of settlers that included her father, whose name is immortalised in a part of the world where he was very happy (and where Nan herself was born back in 1924). For that I am truly grateful, as it means I have a happy last memory to look back on, to add to all the other memories from my 42+ years, not least of which were living just a mile away for 15 years in the middle of Wales just after my grandparents retired.
But that's not how grief works. The tears are now coming for the first time. I miss her already, even though I've not seen her half as much as I should have done. She was my last link to that generation, following on from my grandfathers (1905-1980 and 1920-1997) and grandmother (1909-1996), all of whom I still miss even now. I consider myself extremely lucky to have known three of my grandparents really well, and my father's dad slightly. I was also lucky enough to remember my Nan's parents too - my great grandfather Percy Pink (1898-1980) who is the subject of so many of my family history articles, and my great grandmother Annette Howell (1902-1991).
My only regret is not having discovered family history earlier. It's important to connect to your roots and your past. My family history isn't remarkable - resolutely British with a touch of Irish, and mostly working class. And yet there are such stories to discover - and it'll be the same with other people too. Hidden treasures waiting to be discovered. If you're reading this, and never thought to delve into your family history, do so now. You'll be surprised at what you might learn.
As for Nan, I so hope there is something else after this life, and that she's reunited with her parents, my grandfather, my uncle and her family and friends who've departed before her. I hope they can occasionally glimpse the world they left behind, and know how much we loved them - and still do. Goodbye Nan, I miss you already.