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Patricia Pask // 1929 - 2014

28 December 2014
Last night, the world lost a beautiful woman. She was a good egg, she had a kind soul, and I'm lucky enough to have shared nearly 22 years worth of memories with her. She wasn't just my nan, she was my favourite person in the world.

Throwback to a family holiday in 2007 and a rare moment Nan actually said yes to having a picture taken.
My nan had been in hospital since early November; being taken on and off antibiotics, drips, oxygen and quite frankly powering through whatever symptoms were thrown her way. Her speech was limited, her consciousness was limited, and her memory was definitely limited. She'd been suffering with Vascular Dementia for a few years, and it had been quite a gradual, capable decline. Her memory deteriorated bit by bit, and she slowly lost the will to do anything, but during the second half of the year, things really started to go downhill.

By this point, she felt like a completely different person to the woman I grew up with, but she was still my Nan. She'd still remember the littlest, most random things from years ago, she'd ask me how my friends were, ask me what we'd got up to and tell me about her and her friends going dancing and skating when she was younger. She'd laugh her head off at Friends and Keeping Up Appearances. She'd still be amazed every time that just by moving my fingers a bit, I could do anything I wanted on the laptop, and claim that she was going to go to the shops tomorrow and buy herself one to play around on, so she'd be even better than I was. She'd watch Emmerdale at 7pm without fail, with her dinner - even if she had no idea who was who and what was going on.

 In 1999, my Mum was taken into hospital after being bitten by a horsefly on holiday. Her leg flared up and unfortunately she was kept in for a little while. I was 6 at the time, and still had a week left before I went back to school, and Dad was unable to get time off work, so I stayed with Nan and Grandad for a couple of weeks. Their house was only a 10-15 minute walk from my school, and to be honest, I had an absolute blast. So much so, that I ended up spending the next 12-13 years of my life continuing to stay round their house once a week. It became a tradition. I'd come home from school and pick my overnight bag up, get to their house anywhere between 4 and 5, we'd watch Friends on E4, and then put the dinner on so it was ready for 7, and we could all sit in the living rooms scoffing away, watching Emmerdale. After that, we'd be left to our own devices and be in bed by half 10.

I started off playing with things, or doing crafts, and for a long period of time, teaching my nan the things I'd learnt at school, like Greek Mythology and how to say the colours in French. I made a whiteboard out of a big sheet of card and some cellophane-type-stuff, and I would test her the week after to see if she remembered. She put up with that, I mean, she even smiled her way through that, she may have even genuinely enjoyed that - she was a saint. As I grew up, that evolved into hefty school work and playing around on the laptop, and she'd sit and watch me do essays or make graphics on Photoshop, and try and understand what was going on. Everything amazed her. Nan cooking me and Grandad (who'd have a nap until 7) dinner every week turned into me cooking her and Grandad dinner every week, and as I'd walk up to her with a plate, she'd utter the same words - 'Aren't I a cheek? You come round my house and you have to cook your own dinner! And mine!' before tucking into her nuggets. The smell of Grandad's fish and chips would fill the house, and my auntie would come through the door just after 7, ready for her spicy chicken, and a glass of cream soda.


I stopped staying over because it became a bit of a strain. I'd stay in Nan's bed (they had separate beds because Grandad needed a higher one and it was just a bit too high for her) and she would fall asleep in her chair. Most of the time, my Auntie would stay around too, and there'd be a rush in the morning for her to get to work, and me to get to school, and Nan would always make sure we were up before 7 so we could both have time to eat, get ready and leave on time. This all got a bit too much, and Nan really needed to be in her own bed, so I'd pop over for a few hours instead, every week, then every other week. This then grew further and further apart as I finished my final year of sixth form, and spent time on work placements, and trying to find a permanent job.

During this time, things really started to derail, and we were forced to introduce a carer to make sure Nan and Grandad were okay, things were kept clean, and they ate properly. Grandad is still relatively self-sufficient in most cases, and would make sure that Nan was okay, especially towards the later stages when she wouldn't/couldn't leave her bed. A few months ago, she fell in the middle of the night, and Dad rushed straight round as she was taken to A&E, but sent home hours later after they didn't find anything. When Dad casually visited her one day, she seemed to be in pain, and they took another trip to A&E, found that she had an infection and had suffered a mini-stroke at some point, and decided to keep her in. Over the weeks she had trouble with her breathing, was declared nil-by-mouth, and generally became very, very weak.

On Christmas Day, Dad got a phone call at 6 in the morning asking to go up the hospital. She managed to stabilise, and Dad was able to nip back a couple of times to open presents and have dinner, but he wouldn't let me come up with him. At the time I was a little disheartened, but after hearing about all the wires and everything she had in her, and her general state, I'm glad he said no, and I was able to say goodbye in my own special way. I was expecting Dad to come back at any time with sad news, and spent a lot of the time preparing myself for the worst, but she powered through the night, and even powered through Boxing Day, before passing last night. It sounds strange, but it feels like she was waiting for something. Whether she was waiting for Christmas to be over, so she wouldn't steal it's thunder, or she was waiting for my uncle (her first born) to come up and visit, or even her sheer stubbornness was just keeping her going, she put up a good fight, and deserves a rest. A rest from everything; the stress, the pain, the wires... everything.

Today, we went to see Grandad, and as I said hello and hugged him, he sobbed into my shoulder, and I wasn't too far behind him. The whole immediate family were there, and we had some lunch and shared some memories. As we left, and I went to say goodbye to Grandad, he broke down a little bit again, and just thinking about it instantly gives me a lump in the back of my throat.

I really wanted to do this justice, but I couldn't bring myself to plan it, so I've sat here for over an hour typing and typing, with a few little tear-breaks. I've still got a long way to go, obviously, I've only just started thinking of the things she's going to miss in mine and my cousin's lives, and the stuff that we're going to miss, but for now, just to have this is enough. There's only one thing I can really say now though - I love you Nan. More than you'll ever know. Thank you for everything.
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