GRACE DIED THIS March , in her ninety-ninth year. We had been willing her towards the big one hundred, urging her on. For myself, I’d been offering up the prayers of the faithless: arid incantations that they are. It was probably a kind of vanity on all our parts, for she wished very much to breast the centennial tape and we, the family, wanted it for her. But it would have been
a pitiable show – a birthday cake and a forest of candles before a tired old lady with breath enough to extinguish barely a handful. And perhaps, in the end, she knew as much.
I saw my grandmother for the last time when I flew to Townsville for her ninety-seventh and my cousin Julie and I drank a little too much at a near-empty restaurant near the river, and Grace – who seemed as sharp as ever – had a glass or two as well. That afternoon she seemed a certainty for a hundred. But the final ascent, in the rarified air of old age, was beyond her. This sharp-witted, stoical and gentle woman – twice widowed, much loved by her four children, and admired by all – finally succumbed to an irresistible desire for peace.
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