Throughout my life, both grandparents on my mother’s side lived just 10 minutes away from us, in their own house with a small garden and a chicken coop. They visited nearly every Sunday for dinner, took us on trips into the woods, walked us home from kindergarten, nursed us back to health when we were sick, let us watch TV shows that we weren’t allowed to watch at home, and generally spend so much time with us that it’s hard to compress every memory into a list of activities.
My grandfather passed away in 2018. His death was slow and somewhat foreseeable, he was diagnosed with cancer and spend the last weeks before his passing at the hospital in the palliative ward. My grandpa’s death was the first time in my life that I experienced genuine grief.
One of my strongest associations with my grandpa is his garden, which is also the ground on which my parents build our house on. He spent nearly every day, whether it was sunny, rainy, or snowy, in that garden while my grandma played with us on the terrace. I wanted to preserve his memory somehow, so I interviewed my grandma about him and recorded the conversation we had one sunny afternoon in July 2022.
My grandmother died on the 13th of February 2023. While her death was sudden and completely unexpected, the loss I felt was in a much calmer and quietly excepting way. I found my reaction to her death very confusing, my therapist told me that this can often occur when one had a good relationship with the person that passed. I remember my grandma as an open, friendly, and fundamentally good person, one you could talk about anything or nothing with, who accepted you as you are and that was just generally such a light in other people’s lives.
Editing the interview now was a sometimes sad, sometimes funny, and often slightly bizarre experience: normally, when I listen to interview recordings, it is pretty clear to me which oddities of a voice I can leave in to give the recording more character and which ones should be cut. But because I was so used to hearing my grandma’s voice, it became really challenging to decide what to cut and what not. I took the sound clips from the beginning and the end of the audio while walking to the cemetery where they are buried, the first one when I took the interview with my grandma and the second one a few weeks ago. While these audio bites sound extremely similar, a lot of tears were shed between the first and last recording.
in the bottom left: my grandparents, near the cemetery they are now buried in