April 2010 Archives

Goodbye Gigi

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Goodbye Gigi

Mrs Geasley died on the 4th of April 2010. Two years to the day since she moved into the nursing home. She was 89. 


We weren’t related except by love. In my heart she was my other Granny.  She lived two houses away from us while I was growing up.  My mum says she didn’t really understand what a good neighbour was until she met Mrs Geasley. She talks about the time when she was recovering from an operation ,when I was about 2 and Mrs Geasley would follow me around the house, one of her hands cupped out a few inches in front of my head to make sure that I wouldn’t smack my head into any of the sharp corners of the house.


As a child I never thought too deeply about Gigi.  Gigi was the closest that I could come to saying Geasley as a boy learning to talk, and it was always Gigi or Mrs Geasley after that.  She would walk up the hill everyday to the spring that was about 100 yards up the road from my parents house, and walk back down with one or two buckets of water.


I always think of Sheila, her dog with her.  Sheila walking up the hill with her and in later years lying curled up in front of the fire.  It was only at her funeral that I was reminded that Sheila wasn’t originally her dog. It belonged to Paddy Gray, an old bachelor who lived in a hovel at the top of the hill. When he died Sheila moved in with Mrs Geasley.  She knew Gigi’s love for animals. And for children. It seemed the cruelest irony that Gigi never had children of her own because she loved kids.  And she was wonderful with them. There was many an afternoon I spent in her front room with a glass of milk and a biscuit chatting with Gigi.


One of my funniest memories was of the horse she had a for a few days.  I can’t have been much more than 7 or 8 at the time. Mad about Cowboys and Science Fiction. I opened her narrow gate and walked the short path around to the side door only to see a grey horse in her lower field. Someone had asked her to mind the horse, which I christened Dobbin.  And for a few days I got to sit on the back of a horse.


For years she had the most wonderful vegetable garden, row after row of potatoes, carrots, cabbages, lettuce, onions and other veg growing year after year in the garden, harvested and held in the shed and feeding her for months.


She was the most generous of women,  minding us as kids, presents every birthday and Christmas and Chocolate Eggs at Easter. And I will forever associate choc mallows at Christmas with Mrs Geasley. That first cuppa tea after midnight mass, when mass was at midnight, and the cold glistened outside and opening the box of mallows that would invariably have come from Mrs Geasley.  


Even the first children’s mobile we bought when Ben was born was from a gift from Gigi. She was stunned like the rest of us when my Dad died. It was a strange introducing her to my six-week-old son just before Dads funeral.  It was nice to be able to pop in with the boys on a few occasions to see Gigi and to see her delight in the next generation.  Sitting in the same chair I had sat in as a child. There was invariably biscuits and some juice. And the boys overcame their reluctance to the house when they realised that Mrs Geasley had cats, and they wanted to chase them around the house.  And she didn’t mind.

She didn’t complain about much.  She did think we needed a benign dictator to sort things out back in the 1980s.  And in later years the arthritis in her hands bothered her.  She lived on her own for 28 years after her husband died.  She walked or cycled everywhere. Talking her “high Nellie” on regular trips out to her cousins the Brennans.  She was bright and full of life. Before I heard of the hygiene hypothesis Mrs Geasley told me that kids need a little bit of dirt under their fingernails.  

She understood us, and she loved us. And we loved you.

Goodbye Gigi.