In Memoriam: My Grandmother

{ Saturday, July 9, 2011 }
My grandmother passed away in the night of 8th July 2011. She held out a long time, since she didn't get any water or food from Monday because her body couldn't process it anymore. She was a strong woman, and may she rest in peace.

I decided to dedicate this post to the life of my grandmother. Of course my post will be very incomplete, because I only knew her the twenty last years of her life, and she didn't like to talk about her past.
There are a few things I know, and I want to write about them here.

My grandmother J. was born on the 19th of February 1927 in a Flemish village, in a time where each village still had its own dialect. Her parents were small farmers and she had one sister. She told me once that she hated to eat spaghetti in her childhood, because she thought the spaghetti strings looked like worms. She also told me that in that time oranges were seen as precious candy, because they were expensive and rare. She was thirteen when World War II started. The Germans occupied her village and her family was obliged to let German soldiers stay in their house.
She met my grandfather on the local fair and they got married. She had two sons. When my father, the youngest, was six, her husband died from cancer and she was obliged to raise them by herself. She also never remarried. To have some money, she went to work at the rest home for seniors. She and her sons slept in the same room. When her parents got ill, she took care of them until they passed away.
Since I spent most of my childhood in her house, which was over a hundred years old, I have very vivid memories of the place. Unfortunately, she was obliged to sell it about seven years ago, because the house was not suitable for people of old age, because of its steep stairs and little provisions. The only toilet was outside, for example, and there was no shower, bathroom or central heating. I remember that we always washed ourselves in the kitchen, at a basin, with good old-fashioned soap. She also had a larger basin, in which she poured hot water to take a bath. To keep herself warm, she had a stove in the living room, which was heated with coal.
When the house was sold, the new owner took everything down, including the garden, and built apartments on the ground. But her house will always exist in my memories. I also believe that historians would have loved the place, because it really showed how people used to live in the beginning of the 20th Century, and before. I remember that in one room, there was a big, old sewing machine, which fascinated me endlessly. I also remember that she had a bust of Mother Mary, and that I was always polishing it, because I felt drawn to its beauty. Until I was seven, I went to school in her village and before and after school my brother and I stayed with her. Sometimes we went to the city by bus, where she bought the things she needed. She had a dog and I played with him a lot. I loved horses, but because I didn't have one, I pretended her dog was a horse, and I taught him how to jump over obstacles, like horses do (but of course without me sitting on top). My brother or I used to hide somewhere, and then we let the dog sniff something that belonged to us, and he used to find us immediately.
Like all people who lived during that time, my grandmother was very catholic, and went to church every Sunday. She had crosses hanging on the walls and figurines of Jesus and Mother Mary. She had this old little book, which she was given when she was twelve, with the Church's answers to all questions, like “Who is God?”, “What happens after death?” etc.
We never really discussed religion, unfortunately, so I don't really know what her exact views were.
She was always really worried about her health and ate without salt, because her blood pressure was high (contrary to mine, which tends to be low).
She liked company and greeted everyone with a smile. She stayed in the hospital for a month, and I know that the nurses really liked her, because of her kindness. They also came to sit and talk with her in the evenings. Even after it became obvious that she would pass away, they came to check on her several times during the day, making sure she was as comfortable as possible. There is also a special department in the hospital where people who will pass away are transferred to, but the nurses allowed her to stay with them.
There was also a Christian lady, who works at the department to pray with the patients and offer them support. She visited a few times, even after my grandmother was not really conscious anymore. During one of those visits, she told me that while she was visiting my grandmother when she was still fairly well, my grandmother asked her: “Do you think I will go to heaven?” I was really touched by this. She'd told her “yes, I think so”. Then she told me that she never really found hell such a great idea, and I told her: “yes, I can't really imagine God as someone who tortures people” and she agreed. I'm glad she reassured her, and not told her something like “Well, I really can't say to be honest”.
Of course, when someone passes away, we often feel regret for not spending more time with them while they were alive. I feel this regret too. I feel sorry that I didn't ask more about her inner life and her past, but we are often so caught up in our own lives that we don't realise what we have until it's gone.
Because I spent a lot of time in her house when I was little, I can understand the dialect of the village, although I can't speak it myself. My father and uncle speak it to each other, and I feel good whenever I hear it, because it sounds really familiar and it reminds me of my childhood.
I pray that God will keep my grandmother safe, wherever she is now, and that He will surround her with love, mercy and light. I pray that all her worries and pain are gone now, and that she can live eternally in Heaven.


bosnishmuslima said...

Dear Safiyah,

my sincerest condolences. It is always so sad to lose close and beloved family members. In the last years I lost my father and my grandmother too. It's the sad part of living :( and we have to go through it.

Keep strong and take care!

Hugs & Love

♡ αmαℓ said...

Inna lillahi wa inna ilaihi rajioon

I'm sorry for your loss, Safiyah. Your grandmother sounded like a wonderful and interesting woman!

Take care, sis.

Almost a Muslimah said...

there is nothing really one can say to sb who lost a beloved person so simply accept my condolences.

i know it's difficult but stay strong. take care x

Aziza said...

i'm so sorry for your loss. :( To Allah we belong and to Him we return. At least you have such fond memories of the time you spent with her.

Safiyah said...

Thank you, my dear sisters :) Your words are much appreciated! <3

@ BosnishMuslima: I'm so sorry for your loss. It's very sad to lose someone. I hope you can find strength in faith, and I offer you my sincere condolences too! x

rose water said...

Dear Safiyah!
I am so very sorry for your loss :( <3 May she rest in peace and may Allah (swt) grant her a place in Jannah! Thank you for sharing about her.
<3 <3 <3 I hope you and your family will be able to cope.
Lots of thoughts, love and prayers from me to you.

MarieHarmony said...

What a beautiful tribute for your grandmother Safiyah - sorry to hear she passed away, please receive my deepest sympathy for your loss. Know these times are hard but I am sure where she is now she is surrounded by love and peace. May God keep you and your family well.

Safiyah said...

Thank you, Rosewater and Marie :) I really appreciate your kind words! May God bless you, always! <3

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