Life, Travel

Vale Gigi


A few weeks after my beloved grandmother’s funeral, I found myself staying at a hut in Norway in the middle of the mild northern European summer of 2015. By mid-morning when the sun had gained some strength, most days I made my way out to the large veranda to sit amidst the birch trees and wild summer flowers. Quiet days followed, often alone in contemplation, overlooking the glassy waters of the Oslo Fjord.

For many years my grandmother Gigi’s life and mine had been closely intertwined, bound in a relationship born out of deep love and respect and an element of duty. Her final breathe came half way through her 102nd year as the cycle of her long life found its end. Immersed in the magical long days of the Scandinavian summer, I allowed myself time to reflect upon the tapestry of memories embedded in my heart of the fiercely intelligent, kind-hearted woman who had been an ever-present figure in my life since the day I was born.

Sometimes I curled up and dozed in the sun, my body unravelling from the state of vigilance that had built up over the years I cared for my grandmother whilst my two little boys were still very young. Sometimes I took long silent walks through the forest while bright sunlight filtered through the tall canopy of pine trees. I passed hundreds of wild blueberry and raspberry patches and ate delicious berries straight from the bush.

Even this simple act flooded me with memories and transported me back to a happy weekly childhood ritual. While my two younger siblings and I piled on to my grandparent’s bed to watch the Muppet Show, my grandmother would bring in a big bowl of fruit and sit peeling and cutting up different fruits for us. Often she patiently peeled grapes for her treasured grandchildren long past the age we were old enough to eat the skins.

There were many things I admired about my grandmother. She considered herself a fortunate soul, despite having seen and endured much sadness and tragedy throughout her lifetime. She was curious and thoughtful, warm and loving and made deep friendships wherever she went. She lived a love-filled life as a result of the care she had always bestowed upon her family and friends.

The natural mystic in me takes solace knowing she died on the same date in the Hebrew calendar, the 2nd of Tammuz, that her cherished husband, my wonderful Papa also passed away twenty-four years earlier.


Are There Toys In Heaven, Mummy?

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‘Are There Toys In Heaven, Mummy?’  is about ways we can talk to children about death and the family members they never got to meet. This piece was first published on on 24th March 2014. “Are there toys in heaven mummy?”, came the question from my four year old in the back seat of the car. While I desperately tried to think quickly how best to answer, his slightly older brother asked, “How about hot chocolate mummy? Do they have hot chocolate in heaven?”. We’ve been talking about heaven a lot lately in our house. These two beautiful little boys have become quite obsessed by the idea of heaven.  At the ages of four-and- a-half and six, they understand enough to know many of the important people in their mummy’s life died before they were born. Read the full story here on iVillage iVillage Logo