Bye, Gran

My mum's mum died just before Christmas. I would never have called her that, of course: she was always "Gran."

Gran was the hub of our extended family. Mother of seven, grandmother of 16 and great-grandmother to 23, she was the queen of our clan and no trip home was complete without paying a visit to her. Besides, that was where you were most likely to run into the rest of your relatives.

As the eldest grandchild, I have many years of memories of Gran from before we left Scotland in 1966 right up until the last time I visited her in mid-November. She was always glad to see her grandchildren and was proud of every one of us. She was absolutely convinced that we were all brilliant and I lost count of the times that she told me "you'd be good at that, son." It wouldn't have mattered what it was, from flying an airliner to performing brain surgery, I'd be good at it. If I was cheeky when I was younger, Gran would threaten to come to my "backside wi' a teaspoon." It wasn't much of a threat, but I seem to remember behaving. If I was cheeky in fun when I was older, Gran would usually just laugh. She enjoyed a good laugh.

When we got older and had our own children, Gran was thrilled with every new addition to the family. Even though you might think some of the wonder had gone out of the business after raising seven kids of her own, she still loved babies. And it didn't matter how many of us showed up at her house or, later, at her apartment -- we could always order out or, as the minister reminded us at Gran's funeral, just "pit another tattie in the pot."

That was Gran. And it was typical of the woman who decided in her 50s that it was time to emigrate to Canada to give the children she still had at home a better future than the one they might have in Scotland. Over the years, her adult children followed with their own families until all my aunts, uncles and cousins were in Canada. Most located within 20 or 30 km of "Gran Central Station."

I'm not sure what will become of our big family now that Gran has gone. We'll all miss her, of course, but I think we'll also wind up seeing each other less. Perhaps that's inevitable when the centre of something big and growing finally gives way.

I know I'll miss her. Bye, Gran.