The Funerals We Miss – This Emigrant’s Lament And A Fond Memories Of My Gran

Scottish Beaches-text2It’s going to be a slow and quiet day in the household today, well, for me at least.

You can’t stop the bairns being boisterous, even on a sad day. One of the many beauties of children.

Today a funeral is being held for our dear grandad and father-in-law Jim, in Ellon in the north east of Scotland. Our Intn’l Man of Mystery is there, saying goodbye to his dad.

We should be there, all of us. It’s terrible that we are not.

This is the sadness of emigration, and these are the days when it feels all wrong.

My husband’s family are private folk so I will leave their story there.

But to carry own my own wee personal lament… oh it is sad. We have missed so many funerals over the years; aunties, uncles, family friends. I missed the funerals of both of my grandmothers and one grandfather too.

My wee Scottish granny, Bessie Smith dies in 2005 aged 99. She had had a very difficult life, easpecially as a child. Gran’s mother had run away to London with another man, leaving two little girls.

This was a rarity and a great shame in those days. My gran never saw her mum again and she used to say to us:

‘I never knew a mother, girls.’

This wee gran was a battler and at times a battleaxe. The bloody of her fighting McDonald forebears ran strong in her.

Gran was able to travel in her older age, and she loved her trips away. She was encouraging when I started to wander but she used to say:

‘You’ll come back for my funeral though won’t you Seana.’

And I promised that I would.

But come the day, I couldn’t get there. I was pregnant with the twins, with two boys to look after and a husband away. I just couldn’t go. It felt awful.

I’m sorry Gran.

I think about Gran and Papa most days. The many couthy lessons they instilled were so valuable, mostly about simple living and a simple faith in the goodness of man and, for them, The Man Upstairs.

This is my Gran when she was almost 95 years old. She used to say: ‘If you smile a lot you’ll keep those cheeks nice for when you’re older.’

Grandparents are important. So are grandchildren? What if mine end up growing up in a country half a world away?

Funerals are important too, and honouring the folks who pass and keeping their memories warm in our hearts.

So you’ll understand if you catch me having a cry in the supermarket later on today. Or on the bus another day.

We’re so lucky to live in Australia. I’m so happy to live here, and for all this pain, would make the same choices again. But you never lose the love of the old country and the old folks.



PS My sister took the photo at the top of this post, thanks Morag, More of her beautiful photos coming.  

Leave a Comment