Sorry if some view this as self-indulgent, but I have to dedicate this blog the one person who made Haarp Media possible, My grandmother Joan Hatton. This woman raised me single-handedly and sacrificed nearly everything to keep me happy. I wrote this letter to her, and I hope you readers can dig where I’m coming from with this.
It’s about life, basically.
These letters are the only way we speak now. It’s nearly been ten years since the last time we actually spoke, one night in the middle of spring.
I come home at 10pm and go online, we have a dial-up modem. You knock on my door and ask me to go offline, as you’re expecting a call from your daughter and my aunty from Western Australia. I tell you I’m busy online, although all I’m doing is chatting with other friends and downloading music. You get angry with me, I get angry with you and tell you to get out of my room. You get upset and cry, and I tell you to not do that around me. You go to your room submissively and I get my way, yet again.
That was the last time we actually spoke to each other.
The next day comes, we are mad at one another and don’t speak. I go out sea-kayaking in Byron Bay and you go shopping in town. I get back and the door is wide open. There are dropped clothes around and you are standing outside, clutching a shirt, staring off into space. I ask you what the matter is and you don’t reply. I yell at you to reply to me and all you do is make a soft moaning kind of noise.
Something’s wrong here. I freak out and get you to sit down on your chair, and you’re still clutching the shirt. I’m now crying, it’s happening. I knew this day might come and now I have to act. I call triple zero and tell the ambulance to come. You have wandered off to your room and you are trying to fold clothes away. You still can’t speak and drool is coming out one side of your mouth. I take your hand and tell you we have to go to hospital. The way you took my hand was so loving and trustful, it broke my heart. To be brought up by you and have you nurse me, cloth me, feed me, shelter me when no-one else could, and now to watch you fade away from me like a dream was terrible, but perhaps a necessary thing to go through as humans.
I go with you to the hospital and I am told you have had a stroke. You need to go from Byron Bay to Lismore Base Hospital to give you treatment. I am now faced with a choice, to go home and contact the rest of the family, or to stay with you while you’re still awake. You look at me, but past me, you can see something magic with your silent vision, your eyes are full of wonder. I make the wrong choice. I tell you I have to call the family, and you make a soft disappointed noise and turned away from me. You knew that you’d never see me again.
On the way to the hospital, you went to sleep and never woke up again. We let you stay asleep and switched off your life support machine, rather than have you less than full of life, the way you were. The family didn’t let me stay and sit with you, they thought I might do something dumb when you passed away. I saw you asleep at the hospital and I was told you were going to die. You died the next night in the middle of spring. It was raining.
Everyone stayed at the house, but it was lonely. I couldn’t stop crying for days. My brother and sister and my many aunts, uncles and family friends came to the funeral. Not our mother, she shut us out of her life. You were my real mother.
I saw your body in the coffin, there was something ethereal and otherworldly about it. I could see some kind of secret of another world in your face, some sort of secret ghost of a smile, you were now at peace. I kissed your brow and touched your hand and it was cold.
Everyone was mad at me at home. I was mad at me. Did I do this to you? Did I push you too far? Would you have lived longer if you didn’t have to take care of me?
They burnt you to ashes. I knew that you wanted to be put to sea (we both loved The Rime of the Ancient Mariner and had discussed how you wanted to be put to sea), but one aunty insisted that you were scared of the sea. So we put your ashes up a hill at a lonely cape. There was a gust of wind when I threw your ashes, and your ashes blew in our faces, all over everywhere, glittering.
The others then took what they wanted of your belongings. They took what they wanted and left me all by myself with the remnants of who you were. Packing up a person’s clothes and belongings is the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do. I found something they missed. I found a book of poems you had copied in your handwriting. I found your journals. I found my redemption in writing. I started keeping journals too. I started writing more and more.
Many bad things happened to me because I didn’t listen to you before, but your path became my path.
I’m sorry I was such a jerk to you, and I wish I’d let you have the phone that night. I’m sorry I wasn’t holding your hand when you went to sleep. There’s a great many things we should say when we have the chance to, and I’m sorry I didn’t say them while I could. But thanks to writing, you live beyond the flesh. Thank you for this gift, Nan.
From your loving grandson, Kristian. ❤ xxoo
Joan Hatton: 23 February 1924 – 15 October 2004
Joan Hatton published her memoirs six weeks before her death. She also appeared in many TV shows, advertisement and movies, and was highly active as a dancer and shibashi instructor.
Age is no barrier, only your mind is.