The HR Juggler

Say Something

Posted on: May 20, 2012

Sometimes, that which is personal, is by far the most powerful topic to write about. This post is about family, rather than business; about love, rather than HR.

My Nan is 98 and a half. She lives in a residential home and is profoundly deaf, blind through macular degeneration and often deeply confused as a result of vascular dementia. She suffered a nasty fall and a subsequent fit on Tuesday last week and was taken to hospital, where she then slept solidly for three days. The doctors could not examine her, as she was asleep, visitors came and went and I believe we all concluded that the most likely outcome was that she would pass away.

Until Friday, when she woke up.  Amazingly.

On Saturday I visited her in hospital, fearful that she would not recognise me or remember who I am (although that has never happened before). It was a shock to see her – her face and body were deeply bruised and she had not so much black eyes, as black both sides of her face. As she lay in bed and I came close up to her and held her hand, I knew at once that she recognised me, simply because she looked at me so intently and with such love in her eyes.

My Nan didn’t speak for about 15 minutes – her voice seems to have been affected by the fall, although she has not suffered a stroke – she literally just looked at me with love, with blue eyes that have seen nearly a hundred years of life. She did start to speak after a time, although much of her conversation was incoherent in its meaning. Towards the end of my visit, the nurse helped her to sit up in her bed and she dazzled me and everyone else in view with a huge smile, apparently delighted to be able to see her surroundings and look at what was going on around her.

As I reflect on this now, I feel not so much pity for a very old lady, who in so many ways is far from the Nan I have known and loved all my life; rather I feel an admiration for the sheer life-force within her that pulled her back into being. And I feel humbled that in the midst of such a difficult and desperate situation, her capacity for love is undimmed. That seems somehow so extroadinarily human.

So, that’s it. That’s what I wanted to share and write about this time. Life-force, love, memory, family, frailty and determination.

Thank you for taking the time to read it.

14 Responses to "Say Something"

Thank you for taking the time to share such a personal event.

The lifeaholic in me doffs my cap to your Nan. In the face of something really challenging and awfully painful – (and credit where it’s due for being wise and indulging in some well deserved recharge time of course) – your Nan is showing all those traits you mentioned at the foot of this lovely human story.

For me, the loveliest aspect of this story though is something I admire most about people – their soul.

Wonderful story, compassionately put and from the heart. Moving stuff.

Lovely article as ever Ali, I’m seeing her tomorrow 🙂

Thank you for sharing such a personal story. Great….. .. So heartening.

The most uplifting thing I have read for weeks. Thank you!

A lovely story Alison. I lost both my parents very early in my life and their demise was also a wonder to behold in terms of dignity etc.

Beautiful sentiment Alison, thank you for sharing. I wish her and you all the love there is at ths worrying time. x

Love is everything. Thank you for sharing.

I have never read one of your blog posts before, but something made me read this….and I am so glad I did! Such a beautiful piece. Made me smile, feel sad and remember my lovely Nanny with love x

stunning Ali ~ your Nan and your words are an instant transportation to all that matters. Love is all. Thank you both x

I am truly touched and quite humbled by the response to this blog post. Thank you so much for commenting, I am so glad that it struck a chord with you too x

I read this first thing this morning and what a great reminder as we start the week of what matters most.


What a beautiful reflection on the power of love within us. God bless your Nan and your family.


I have just come from visiting my nan in a care home I was ever so close to her growing up I’m now 32 and she didn’t even reconise me, I was gutted!! Absolutely in pieces I’ve had to leave, but just went onto google to try and make some understanding of this disease dementia, when I came across your post, it made me cry even more but actually madee smile too so thank you x

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