April 23rd, 2014

darkplace Mysterious ways

Last Delivery

Olivia Raymond Buchanan is a fantastic name.

Try it out. It's got history. Dimension. Class and warmth, culture and mud. It's a name that embodies the breadth that I feel my family history contains, and that I try to live up to in my own life, empathizing with people of all walks and trying to walk the line that is best and fairest for as many as possible.

It belongs to my late Grandmother, who passed on Monday night; but it's not the name that I knew her by. She had a special name for family, the confusing and endearing acronym MOG: "Mummy, Olivia, Granny". The pseudonym held so hard that it wasn't until I was an older child - somewhere in the six- to ten-years-old range, that I became aware that "Granny MOG"'s name was actually Olivia.

It even works for my own kids - we just changed it so that she's "Granny MOGG" (Great-Granny).

It's difficult for me to imagine what to write about MOG. In my earliest memories of her, she was my nice Granny with lots of interesting books and toys, at whose house there would often be arguments and I'd usually get chocolate that would make me vomit in the car after we left. Later, I realized that the relationship between my Mum and MOG was tense, and on talking to Mum I found out that there were a lot of ways in which Granny MOG was an awkward person to be family with - especially to be a child of, but also to be a friend or partner to one of her children, or a close friend to her herself. Like me, she was headstrong and liked to argue, and like me at times, she had no sense of how she affected other people - whether by arguing with them on a sensitive topic, or by refusing to share the work of the Christmas dinner, despite a new spectacular catastrophe each year (which could never have ruined those amazing spreads, excepting that she blew each tiny failure into a disaster of its own).

She was a deeply caring person. Everything *mattered* to her, especially the feelings of others, even when she couldn't read them. She was always devastated to find out that somebody was upset with her, and that it was her own fault. As the years went by, her responses changed, from lashing back to breaking down, and it became a lot easier to be around her - it's easier to be around somebody who admits fault than someone who redirects.

MOG was always, always popular with newcomers. She was a charismatic, friendly and polite lady who looked perpetually twenty years younger than she really was, and she *always* had an interesting story, because she lived a fascinating life, globetrotting with my Grandfather Ivan, who died before I ever had a chance to know him. Her adventures as a Nurse, a Teacher, a Mother and a Wife were some charming, others exciting, others still heartbreaking or revolting. I wish I could remember a nice one to write here.

I think that I, personally, got the best that there was to get out of MOG. I enjoyed her company, and her work as a painter. I am frank, and that allowed her to be frank in return - we have had some incredible conversations over the years, about God, about death, about people and about values, and she shared a few stories with me, for better or worse, that she told me she'd never told anybody else, and which I agreed to keep to myself. I am a man, and she always found it easier to get on with men than with women, even among her family.

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