On Sunday I was received into the Roman Catholic church, at St Peter’s in Eynsham. Lovely Louise, and the ‘newly engaged’ Stephen, were my sponsors.
And now all the energy has gone – Gertie is 99 and half – living in a nursing home down the road, and my Uncle and the wallpaper are growing old together (although he’s far more active than most people half his age). It’s just that Gertie was always so ALIVE – full of fire and spirit. I feel as if part of me has gone – has withered on the vine.
Memento mori? Or rather ‘what will survive of us is love’?
I was too busy dashing around and generally being familial to take many photos at Gertie’s party. But here is one of the few – the Birthday Girl enjoying Sue’s fuchsia picture.
Gertie’s younger brother, Erik, was a artist (as well as an eye surgeon) and she has a number of his paintings at home. She was really pleased to have something ‘painted for her’ once more. Many, many thanks Sue!
I am REALLY pleased to be able to report that Gertie (here in her trademark red, with my Uncle John) is a lot better. I hadn’t realised just how upset and tense I was about her, until I felt the huge surge of relief when I saw her this morning. She is still having problems with her grip, which means she can’t eat or drink by herself. However, when I went to leave she gripped my hand so tightly I couldn’t pull it away (and yes, that broke my heart).
I went up to Alveston to see Gertie today. The Dr thinks that she’s had another brain stem stroke. This has caused various neurological damage, including impairing her ability to swallow (it takes 26 muscles and 5 brain operations apparently – wow). She didn’t know me when I arrived, the first time that’s ever happened – although she had ‘warmed up’ by the time I left.
She was/is a strange and difficult woman, but always magnificent. As my Dad once said, she should really have been leading a barbarian horde with a sabre between her teeth. It’s dreadful to see her so reduced.
I have been very blessed to have 3 such strong, feisty women as Auntie Joan, Rowan and Gertie in my life. Losing them hurts.
“That is the true season of love, when we believe that we alone can love, that no one could ever have loved so before us, and that no one will love in the same way after us.” Goethe
This one was taken in August 1997 on her 89th birthday.