They sometimes called her “Little Grandma”. A pretty name, full of sweetness and affection to designate their great-grandmother, their grandmother – hey, we will have to explain the word to them… Two years, soon, have passed since her death. It was the first time that some of our grandchildren had faced death – or at least they were clearly aware of it. For our own children, Grandma represented the last of the quadruple formed by their grandparents. It is never a page that is turned casually or distractedly, even at 20, 30 or 40 years old.
As for us, beyond the separation, this disappearance means something else still. Common and expected but no less difficult to face: our generation quite simply measures what rank it holds, in the front line now.
The mourning is over. Of course, every now and then the trouble begs to return. You have to make room for it, without letting it settle. Occasionally, it is accompanied by a kind of uneasiness that leaves us helpless. All it takes is nothing. A question that remains unanswered. We would like to ask the person who has just disappeared: your parents, on what date did they move into their house? Your cousin from the South, had she never had children? With the friends of the North, when did your links go back? And this branch of the family with which the relationship had weakened, why was that?
It does not have any consequences, we can live well and survive without knowing the why and the how but it occupies your mind all the same. And you understand that the answer, no one around you can give it now. Only Little Grandma, or this or that old relative, was able to provide the info and that little piece of the puzzle that is missing. She was the last of those years to be able to do so, the last to navigate dates, facts and places, the survivor of an era and a story – our own. We never asked her about it, we didn’t think about it in time. It’s too stupid, and it’s too late!
This feeling of being helpless is experienced in the same way when old relations or very old friends die. They leave without descendants, they were the last of their generation: their own entourage preceded them. Around them, there is no longer anyone to announce their death – if not sometimes a retirement home, an association, a godson, a distant relative. When one of these bereavements occurs, we even feel doubly frustrated. Often, we learn of the death late. And then we would like to express our sympathy and sadness, but to whom? We no longer know to whom to send condolences or to evoke an old memory.
This pain that we do not manage to share has the effect of incompleteness on us, and for some it seems even heavier to bear. Because she leaves them a little more alone.