Tag Archives: Trains

Glass, Glasgow and Gran

It’s interesting that last week’s PhotoHunt theme was ‘glass’. I don’t participate in it but watch others who do, or rather, look at their selections. It’s always interesting to see how three or more people interpret the same subject matter so differently. I thought about posting this on Saturday along with everyone else, but lacked the gumption, desire–something. Well, that and I’d just gotten my first real full night’s sleep after coming off the transatlantic flight a dozen or so hours before, so you’ll excuse me for my tardiness.

When I first heard of the theme, I thought instantly of a candid shot I’d captured of Ian in Scotland. It was the 19th March and his first ever train ride, something I had been anticipating for a very long time. And, I was quite easily as excited as he was, despite the slight feeling of reluctance I was feeling, knowing I would be travelling thirty miles away from my Gran’s bedside. She had asked me the day before if we had any plans while we were here, and it was hard for me to actually want to make any plans, and really seldom did. I usually aimed to be at the hospital around 3 p.m. to visit for an hour every day and that was about as far as my plans would take me. That day, I told her that we were headed to Glasgow by train the next day so that the boys could experience it. I told her I was excited to see Ian’s reaction to it all and she smiled and simply said “good”.

After staying for a few hours in Glasgow shopping and sight-seeing with Bryan, Ian, Cameron and my brother Ciaran (Key-ron), we headed back west to the waiting car at the train station, and then on to the hospital.

Years ago, my Gran had admitted to herself and others (probably reluctantly) that she really needed hearing aids. This of course, gave her very selective hearing. After being admitted to the hospital on 30th October, she could no longer use them with the feeding tube wrapped around each ear. There were days during my visits to her that she could hear me perfectly when I talked in my normal level. That night after Ciaran and I walked quietly into her dimly lit room around 7 o’clock and briefly watched her sleep before I leaned over and touched her hand so as not to alarm her was not one of those times. She couldn’t make out anything he was saying and I had to repeat everything as she looked blankly and almost helplessly at me to help her out. Admittedly, it was only thanks to being in the States that I could project my voice at her at an audible level without feeling as though I was shouting (angrily).

My Mum had told me how Gran’s long-term memory was sharp as ever, but her short-term was basically shot. One of the first things she surprisingly asked after I apologised for waking her was, “how was Glasgow?” Short of telling her “a little wet and very windy”, I told her we had had a good time and that Ian had loved the train and the huge terminus (with thirteen platforms). It was hard not to feel some sort of regret going and doing things, knowing that she had been very active her entire life: travelling all over the world and keeping her daily routine of waking at 5 o’clock, exercising, leaving (sometimes with the dog of whomever she was visiting) for a 6-mile round trip walk and then returning home for a cold bath and breakfast, and was now reduced to sitting upright in a bed or occasionally on a wing-backed chair.

Despite her outward appearance and how much weight she had lost due to the cancer and the feeding tube, she was still in there, she was still my feisty Gran that I knew and loved.  She still had her rampant sense of humour and quick wit, and most importantly, she still had that fight in her that she always had.