A Toast To My Grandma & The Lows of Being An Expat


This post was supposed to be about mine and Mr. Nomad's pre-Valentines getaway to Hervey Bay, but unfortunately these past few weeks have been a little all over the place. Our getaway was more sad than anything else with the news my beloved granny had passed away. Unfortunately a week or so ago my grandma fainted in her garden and ended up in hospital. She'd had a long battle with cancer and ended up being transferred to a hospice. My uncle here in Australia quickly flew back to the UK, but I knew it was the beginning of the end of the road. I had to make a snap decision if I was going to fly back (and spend a lot of my savings which I can't really part with at the moment). I actually decided not to go... aside from the fact it was a lot of money, before I left the UK to move to Australia in November I had in my mind, already said goodbye. I spent an afternoon with her and told myself that would probably be the last time I saw her. And with that decision, me and Mr. Nomad rushed out to get some photos printed and framed to give to my uncle to take back with him so he could put them up in the hospice room so it felt like we were there and she knew we were thinking about her.


Saying that, it's still been very upsetting for me being so far away. The problem with living half way across the world is that it's so difficult to keep up to date with how things are due to the time difference. There's also the small problem of when things get really bad, you can't just drop everything and be there within a few hours. After working it all out, even if I had decided to head back to the UK I still wouldn't have seen her. One thing that has comforted me a little is that I'd been an avid postcard and letter sender. Even though she never replied as it was too difficult for her to get to a postbox, every time I went to see my grandma when I no longer lived in the same city as her, she would tell me how much she loved the postcards and letters I sent her updating her on what I was up to. I continued this throughout our move to Australia and she had received a lengthy letter from me just as she went into hospital, so my mum was able to read it to her. 


My grandma was one of my best friends. Whilst this may be a cliche thing to say, I knew her so well and we were incredibly close. I actually went to University in the same city she lived in so became her main carer whilst I was there for 3 years. I took her shopping, on days out, cooked meals for us together and would spend a lot of time with her, helping her with her day to day jobs. Over this time she became pretty dependable on me, but she was great company- we did many crosswords together (her absolute favorite thing to do) and had so many laughs. Not only this, but I learnt so much about her and her adventures throughout her life; living in Sri Lanka, being pursued by a handsome Italian man whilst she was in the WRENS (ooo err!) and the WW2 dance parties she attended where she mingled with men from all over the world and where herself and her colleagues were considered the cream of the crop (the WRENS were regarded pretty highly at the time). Then when she left the services, how she pursued a career in teaching and was one of the first women she knew to get a car (an old mini to be exact!) and how much she loved driving. Whilst doing this she had three children, all one year apart- crazy!


One thing I will never regret in my life is the effort I have made with my grandparents. When my granddad died 2 years ago I was completely heartbroken but at the same time I felt so lucky I got to spend so much time with him. When he became too old to take care of himself properly we moved him up to Yorkshire near our house so we could keep an eye on him. During my gap year and the years I was around at home prior, I spent a lot of time with him too, also taking him shopping and helping him around the house. He was also a great rock to me at a time I found really difficult when my parents split up. 

If I could give one lesson to any younger people growing up it would be to make time for elderly relatives and cherish the time you spend together. I find it so infuriating the way many people do not have enough time for older people (including my own relatives). I cannot imagine being old and having no one remotely interested in talking and spending time with me, and really hope my future grandchildren have a relationship with me as I have with my grandparents. With that being said, here is an article the paper did on my grandma and some of the amazing things she did throughout her life.


9 comments

  1. Aw I am sorry for your loss! This post resonates a lot with me as I actually moved back to the UK to be closer to my grandparents. After a long time in NZ/Aus being far away from them I definitely thought it was time to get back and see them more! But now my parents are half a world away, so it such a hard thing to balance - I feel like I am missing out on something no matter where in the world I live! x

    Jasmin Charlotte | UK Lifestyle Blog

    ReplyDelete
  2. so sorry to her about your grandma! must be so hard not being able to be in the uk right now, i've had not that close family members die and my decision not to fly back home even though i don't live on the other side of the world always makes me feel a bit selfish and awful. even though it's not! but it sounds like she was an amazing lady and that you got to spend a lot of good times with her:-) and i do agree and think that young people (or older as well) should appreciate the time they can spend with grandparents and other relatives more. because, even though it maybe doesn't feel like you'd want to see them every week at the time, those will be the days that you look back at fondly! :-) xx

    ReplyDelete
  3. My condolences. This post is a lovely tribute to her.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Kyriam |effervescent life by K20 February 2015 at 08:34

    My condoleances. Your post resonated a lot with me, because my granddad got sick a few weeks before i moved to paris. the whole time i was at the hospital, i had conflicted feelings about how i wanted him to keep going for as long as he could, and how i wouldn't be able to say goodbye if it happened while i was away. Finally, he passed away a week before my departure and the funeral was the day before i left. i'm grateful i got to say goodbye, but it's still hard to be away from my parents after a tough time like this. x

    ReplyDelete
  5. Thanks so much Kyriam- sorry about your granddad. That's great that you got to say goodbye, but you're definitely right, it's so difficult being away from loved ones at a time of loss. It's quite isolating being away from everyone (friends and family) who are there to support you through these tough times but I've found time to be a great healer. I'm incredibly lucky in that I have my boyfriend who is really supportive here in Australia with me, which has been such a blessing.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Thanks so much Laura for your lovely comment. You're right it definitely makes you feel selfish for not travelling home, but I've tried to tell myself that my grandma wouldn't have wanted me to spend a lot of my savings and rush back to see her in that way. Like you say, I had so many good times with her that in a way it is nice to hold onto those happy memories. Exactly- whilst spending a lot of time with my grandparents and family members can sometimes be a little difficult, they are the times you cherish the most when you're no longer able to do that.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Thank you lovely. That must be so tough having such close family members all over the world. I think it's so lovely that you've got to spend some time closer to your grandparents though, and i'm sure your parents really admire it too! Maybe one day they'll get to steal you back to the land down under!

    ReplyDelete
  8. Sorry to hear about your Grandma. It's hard to lose a loved one, but you have to cherish the memories. :) Sending hugs!

    ReplyDelete