She was in hospital for weeks before she finally died. Drifting in and out, singing songs, crying in pain, trying to escape.
By then it was too late to ask her questions, to find out about her life. And I panicked. I didn’t know enough. I hadn’t spent enough time trying to understand her.
When I look back and remember her, the happiest times were on the Isle of Wight during our summer holidays. She was always nut brown, stretched out in the sunshine, or playing with us on the edge of the sea. She was always smiling and laughing and singing. Always singing.
Before I was born, she lost two husbands. The first, the father of her children, in tragic circumstances. Some would have been broken by the grief. But she never showed it. She never spoke about it. To anyone. After she died I wanted to understand why.
Finding Nana is a project I began back in February 2012. With support from Theatre Writing Partnership I went back to the Isle of Wight, stayed in the hotel we stayed in, revisited places of interest and to tried to see the island through her eyes.
The Isle of Wight, nostalgic and reminiscent, surrounded by the sea, struck me as a metaphor for dementia. I wanted to explore that. And I wanted to find her there.
For the project, I had to prepare a ten minute pecha kucha presentation to share my ideas. Ten slides – one minute each. I wrote mine as a poem with photos. In the tradition of sharing, here it is. It’s a rough recording but it gives you an idea: Dear Nana – a poem
In a twist of fate, on my first trip back to the Isle of Wight for Finding Nana I met a man who was to become my husband. And we are expecting our first baby in May 2015 (it’s probably past May 2015 when you read this – I doubt I’ll update it often enough when the sleepless nights hit – but there we are). So, I’d love to update the play with this thread of loveliness.