My grandma, on my mothers side, passed away in 1994, after bowel cancer metasized. My grandparents resisted change for as long as I can remember. When I was a child, up till the age of 10 I spent 2 weeks every summer with them. Playing lawn bowls with them, helping my grandfather dig potatoes or peat then coming back to my grandmother cooking. She always refused to tell me her age, I only found out from the tomb stone. She took my side in arguments. She used to tell me stories about how my father was the bad boy in the village, and how she banned my mother from seeing him. They never had a telephone until I went to university and my mum and I paid for one to be installed so I could ring them. They had one of those light fibre lamps the first time around and thought it was the height of chic. She wrote on slate in school. I still have the sweater she knitted before I left. I still have the wallet she bought me, 12 years later, it's battered and unusable. After I left Ireland, I only saw her twice a year. I still only see my parents that amount.
When I saw her she was full of morphine. She had a 10 minute period of lucidity. She'd put makeup on because she knew I was coming. When she died, it was a Friday. My mother lied to me all weekend until I was back in work on Monday so I wouldn't have to be alone. I didn't go to the funeral. My mum and grandma had discussed it the month before, and thought I would get too upset.
Now when I go back to my parents, I drive the long way home. I stop somewhere and get flowers, dig a little hole on the top of the grave, and put them in. My mother doesn't know. I don't mind.