A couple of weeks ago, my grandma died.
This was not wholly unexpected, and at the same time it was completely unexpected. I should probably explain that.
She was ninety, which is a fair age for anyone, but her mother (my great-grandmother) lived to be even older. What’s different is that nobody knew she was ninety, other than us. Most of her friends were in their mid-seventies. Now, you might be thinking, LOL, old, but this is like you in your mid-forties hanging out with someone who’s 30, or you in your late twenties hanging out with someone who’s 13, or you at eighteen hanging out with someone who’s still learning what letters are. Gaps get narrower as we get older, but the thing that most surprised me was that all her friends were themselves surprised at the age she was. She can’t have been that age, they said when we told them, and buried in there is a subtle compliment: she was like us, and we’re so much younger, and when we’re that much older we won’t be like her.
No. No, you won’t be like my grandma.
I don’t want to talk much about the last few weeks. We, my mum and me, we flew to Ireland in the middle of the night, we sorted out her house and her garden and her affairs and her funeral and her friends and her family, and we came home. All I want to say about it is that, and all I want to say about her is probably best said in the eulogy I wrote and spoke for her death, and I don’t want to say it again.
But (and this is where people in my family should tune out) I thought I’d talk about the website I made for her. Because of course I made a website. You know how some people throw themselves into work to dull the pain when something terrible happens to the people they love? I’m assuming that if you were a metalworker in 1950 and you wanted to handle your grief that a bunch of people got a bunch of metal stuff that you wouldn’t ordinarily have made. Well, I am no metalworker; I build the open web, and I perform, on conference stages or for public perception. So I made a website for my grandma; something that will maybe live on beyond her and maybe say what we thought about her.
Firstly I should say: it’s at kryogenix.org/nell because her name was Nell and I made it. But neither of those things are really true. Her name was Ellen, and what I did was write down what we all said and what we all did to say goodbye. I wanted to capture the words we said while they were still fresh in my memory, but more while how I felt was fresh in my memory. Because in time the cuts will become barely noticeable scars and I’ll be able to think of her not being here without stopping myself crying, and I don’t want to forget. I don’t want to lose it amongst memories of laughter and houses and lights. So I wrote down what we all said right now while I can still feel the hurt of it like fingernails, so maybe I won’t let it fade away.
I want to write some things about the web, but that’s not for this post. This post is to say: goodbye, Grandma.
Goodbye, Grandma. I tried to make a thing that would make people think of you when they looked at it. I wanted people to think of memories of you when they read it. So I made a thing of memories of you, and I spoke about memories of you, and maybe people who knew you will remember you and people who didn’t know you will learn about you from what we all said.