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The morning was dark and gloomy when I arrived at my

grandmother’s. The fog fell thick and heavy over the city like an

ominous blanket sealing in the cold, and rain thudded continuously

down on the pavement as I passed through the gate, fiddling in my

purse for the house keys. The harsh wind whipped around my

exposed face and I shivered. Clutching my jacket tightly around me,

I unlocked the door and let myself in, pausing only to wipe my feet on

the grubby mat just inside the threshold.

‘Yiayia, I’m here,’ I called out as I carefully placed my bags inside

the door and walked down the hall to the living room at the back

end of the house.

Yeía sou agápi mou

, thank you for coming’.

The living room was virtually unrecognisable; boxes were piled

high in every inch of floor space, the furniture was shrouded in

plastic coverings, stacks of clothes lay folded neatly in piles on the

floor and two small bags of toiletries had been placed atop an

assortment of blankets and wraps. My grandmother was huddled in

the only uncovered armchair left in the room, hands grasping at the

thin shawl around her shoulders.

Each time I saw her, her deterioration stunned me and I felt the

familiar sorrow threatening to overwhelm me. I forced myself to

repress my feelings with silent reassurances that all was still well, and

inhaled deeply until I felt my calm return. She sat with her back

hunched over as her thin, frail arms struggled to reach up and pull

her shawl more tightly around her slight body.

I could still vividly remember a time when, not so long ago, my

grandmother would be up and about whenever I came over, cooking

meals and constantly pressing me to eat more, despite my protests as

I attempted to wave off her extensive array of Greek sweets and

delicacies. The ever-present aroma of baked roasts and hot stuffed

vegetables had now evaporated, replaced by the stale smell of musty

carpet and old furniture. We would have a family meal every week

and she would spend all day preparing the food and ensuring that

the children were fed before anyone else. Even now, when I come to

help her with meals, she tries to convince me to eat my lunch first,

and worries if I have to wait. I guess some things never change.

I plucked one of the blankets off the floor and carefully draped it

over my grandmother’s legs before bending down to plant a tender

kiss on her cheek. It was her last day at home; tomorrow morning

Love And


Joanna Cookson