The last time I see my Grandma she is sitting in my bedroom with my aunt.   They are sitting on my bed which they are too big for and it is funny.  I am playing on the floor, surrounded by dolls and my teddy.   They are asking me questions about my mother and every time I answer they turn to each other and smirk.  I feel like I am doing something wrong but I’m just being truthful.

I never see them again after that. I am 7 years old.

I ask my mother about them one time but she acts weird, so I never ask her again. I know better than that.

32 years later, someone claiming to be a cousin finds my brother on Facebook.  She says that our mother is her aunty and she needs to get in contact because my mother’s mother – our grandmother has had a stroke.

Grandma’s Stroke
Hi M,
You probably don’t know me, I’m Kate, [mum’s name]’s oldest daughter. I am sorry to hear about Grandma’s stroke – T let me know.
I am happy to pass on the information about grandma’s stroke for you and also your contact details to Mum.
Take good care of yourself and thanks for letting us know.

08/09/2010 19:34

Hello kate,
I remember you, I rememmber a letter you wrote about me and my hair when I was little. Thank you so much you have no idea how grateful I am that you have got in contact, thank you so much. Have you let aunty know yet or should I call. I’m not too sure how to handle this? any advice would be appreicated
thank you so much again, And I’d like to stay in contact if that is possible.
yours sincerely

Actually, what exactly is going on? How is grandma? Where is she?


09/09/2010 21:34

Ok, grandma has been in [new zealand town] for the last 16 years and has lived in a rest home for the last 3 when personal care became an issue. she suffered from a deep brain stroke last wednesday and has regular assessments since then. she has shown no signs of recovery during that time.

i’m sorry that I didn’t give you a fuller picture earlier but I wasn’t too sure how much you would want to know.

I hope this helps




I’m sorry you have to be the main burden of all this.

I’m glad you contacted us. Don’t worry about not giving the details, it’s obviously a bit of an emotional minefield. But just to make it clear: there are no bad feelings on my end. I didn’t even know your surname until you messaged T.



I was wondering if it would be ok with you If I could mention to grandma that I had been in contact with you and t. I think that it would give her some peace. I’ll just mention that the last time that I saw grandma she couldn’t remember who I was so she might not even register it but like I say it might bring her some comfort.

Also I am thinking if I could mention any great grandkids. There’s my boy and I’ve seen pictures of your girl ( who is beautiful by the way) I’m not too sure if t and r have kids tho.

Thank you for your support. Even though we may never meet it’s nice to be in contact.

thank you




I must admit your message makes me feel very sad for all the lost time. Anyway, it’s no issue with me if you mention us (I am pretty sure I speak for all the sibs when I say that) and tell her about [kid’s name] too. Neither T nor R have children, it’s just [kid’s name] on our side. I didn’t realise she didn’t know about her. frown emoticon Gosh, this is so sad.


We ended up sending flowers to her funeral.

Reading back now I sound kinda formal, using my best nice but professional tone. I don’t sound like me.

The crazy thing is I didn’t even realise I missed my grandmother or loved her until I was telling my counsellor about it.   Suddenly I started crying, crying, crying and I was confused by my tears. Then I cried cried cried some more. And more. My counsellor sat there quietly and said “you’ve been holding onto that for a long time”.  When I couldn’t talk about grandma – and my aunt – with mum I could never deal with losing them. I didn’t even know how I felt about them because I wasn’t supposed to feel anything.

But she must have done something to my mother to make her so angry.

That is estrangement.


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