Now that I’ve made my ebook “Just Saying” free to the public (you can download the full thing here), I’ve decided to publish the unseen chapters here on my website. Below is a chapter from this book which was published in September 2016.
Christmas Day, 2015.
It’s late in the evening as myself and my family sit down to play charades. After drinking champagne, wine and other assorted drinks we’re all feeling quite giggly and energetic. It’s a standard game of charades. We each write either a book, a play, a song or a movie on a scrap of paper before tossing it into a bowl for the player to choose from.
I sit beside my Gran who is mostly lost when it comes to our choices but still seems to immensely enjoy watching us all make fools of ourselves. After a few rounds, she quietly asks me to get her a pen and a scrap of paper. After discreetly scribbling something, she tosses the paper into the bowl.
A while later my uncle Christy stands up to take his turn. He reads his scrap of paper and sighs. He then informs us that he has no idea whether his paper is a book, a film, a play or a song. We tell him to do his best. He manages to inform us that the first word is beautiful by pointing at me. No I’m joking of course. He actually points at his boot and has us work from there. Such a waste of time with me sitting in front of him.
I feel my Gran begin shaking with laughter beside me and I have no idea why. Christy then begins frantically pointing at her much to our confusion. After many guesses I screamed “Beautiful Grandmother!”
I was right but, as Gran continued to shake with laughter beside me, everyone turned to look at each other confusedly. None of us had ever heard of “Beautiful Grandmother” before. My 83-year-old Grandmother then turned to us, with a light in her eyes and a smirk on her lips and told us that she had written that charade just to mess with us.
* * *
I was six when I broke my Gran’s glasses. Emma had been staying in the spare bedroom. I ran into my poor Gran’s bedroom (she was unsuccessfully trying to read) and asked her could I try on her glasses. I thought it would be hilarious if I walked into Emma’s room wearing them.
Unfortunately, I decided to put them on before I’d walked into the room. I was a jittery, restless child at the best of times and as I half ran into Emma’s room, I couldn’t see very well. Suddenly my face collided with the door frame. The glasses snapped in half before falling at my feet.
Emma and I looked at one another in horror. There was a beat of silence before I scooped them up and thrusted them at Emma. “What do I do?” I asked. The worry on her face mirrored what I was feeling inside. “I don’t know!” she told me.
I was freaking out. How could I have done this? How would Gran ever forgive me? After picking up both halves of the glasses, I reluctantly carried them into her room. The minute I saw her disappointed look I burst into tears.
I’m not sure what gran did then but the next thing I remember is being in her kitchen with my two sisters eating cake and drinking tea. We had all been allowed get out of bed and eat supper because of my despair. Emma helped Gran to tape her glasses while simultaneously attempting to make me feel as guilty as humanely possible. She always loved to mother me.
Gran sternly informed us that none of us needed to tell my parents what had happened because it was all sorted now and I was sorry. We all agreed and we actually managed to keep it from them. I was dying to tell them about my guilt when I got home but the urge soon passed when I realised that it would be more fun to conspire with my sisters and my Gran. Because of the slight age gap between myself and my sisters there weren’t many situations where it was us against our parents.
A few days later, I remember being awoken by my Gran who had come for an evening visit. She sat me up and showed me her new glasses. She told me that she liked these ones much better and that it was to be our secret from now on. This was probably one of the only times that my Gran urged us to conceal the truth from our parents. But like any Grandparent, she liked to discipline us fairly and quickly before moving on.
After she left my room I nestled back down in my warm bed and I felt so safe in the knowledge that she had sorted it out and protected me from the disappointment of my parents.
* * *
Although Evelyn would perhaps appreciate a gushy paragraph describing her personality, I guessed that she’d prefer some stories.
Stories are the first thing I think of when I think of my Gran. She’s told me stories all of my life. She tells me stories when I go to visit her. She tells me stories when we go out for lunch. She tells me stories when I ring her. And I know that she’s so proud of me, and how I’m sharing my story now.
It’s weird to feel proud of someone who’s older than you without seeming patronising, but I gush with pride when I’m in Evelyn’s company. She’s one of the most admirable people that I could ever find myself lucky enough to talk to and I am so grateful that’s she’s my Grandmother (Sorry Gran, I did try not to be gushy).
Choosing stories to describe my Grandmother was difficult. Which features should I highlight within two mere stories? Her strength? Her passion for life? Her faith?
I chose instead to highlight her sense of humour and her compassion, two things I would be honoured to inherit from her.
Everything I do is in honour of those who have loved and supported me. But this book is for you Gran. In it, I am honest and sassy and proud of myself and talkative and grateful and strong. And I can’t think of a more fitting tribute to you than that.
* * *
I knew from the beginning of this book that I would be dedicating it to Evelyn. But the week that I was finishing it up, she was taken into the hospital. After being brought in for a routine procedure, she found herself narrowly escaping death. Her whole family flocked around her, all terrified that we would lose her. We found ourselves having so many discussions about what a huge loss she would be to our family. One thing was clear to us all: She was so intensely loved by everyone in that waiting room.
Due to the amazing efforts from the staff at St. Vincent’s hospital and the huge spark of life that cannot be extinguished in my Grandmother, she miraculously pulled through. It was ironically poetic that while I paid tribute to her with this book, her presence in my world was genuinely tested but I am extremely happy to report that she is now stable and will be reading this tribute from her hospital bed.
As selfish as it may sound, it was terrifying to have her at such a risk when she means so much to all of us. But I am honestly so grateful that she made it back to us in one piece. For a while, I thought that this tribute would be concluded in a devastating fashion. But it feels amazing to once more be able to write about her endless strength and determination.
Gran, it is such a beautiful feeling to know that you’ll get to read this.
All my love,
Read all about my family here.
Listen to an interview with my Mam about marital breakdown below: