The Funerals We Miss – This Emigrant’s Lament And A Fond Memories Of My Gran

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Scottish Beaches-text2It’s going to be a slow and quiet day in the household today, well, for me at least.

You can’t stop the bairns being boisterous, even on a sad day. One of the many beauties of children.

Today a funeral is being held for our dear grandad and father-in-law Jim, in Ellon in the north east of Scotland. Our Intn’l Man of Mystery is there, saying goodbye to his dad.

We should be there, all of us. It’s terrible that we are not.

This is the sadness of emigration, and these are the days when it feels all wrong.

My husband’s family are private folk so I will leave their story there.

But to carry own my own wee personal lament… oh it is sad. We have missed so many funerals over the years; aunties, uncles, family friends. I missed the funerals of both of my grandmothers and one grandfather too.

My wee Scottish granny, Bessie Smith dies in 2005 aged 99. She had had a very difficult life, easpecially as a child. Gran’s mother had run away to London with another man, leaving two little girls.

This was a rarity and a great shame in those days. My gran never saw her mum again and she used to say to us:

‘I never knew a mother, girls.’

This wee gran was a battler and at times a battleaxe. The bloody of her fighting McDonald forebears ran strong in her.

Gran was able to travel in her older age, and she loved her trips away. She was encouraging when I started to wander but she used to say:

‘You’ll come back for my funeral though won’t you Seana.’

And I promised that I would.

But come the day, I couldn’t get there. I was pregnant with the twins, with two boys to look after and a husband away. I just couldn’t go. It felt awful.

I’m sorry Gran.

I think about Gran and Papa most days. The many couthy lessons they instilled were so valuable, mostly about simple living and a simple faith in the goodness of man and, for them, The Man Upstairs.


This is my Gran when she was almost 95 years old. She used to say: ‘If you smile a lot you’ll keep those cheeks nice for when you’re older.’

Grandparents are important. So are grandchildren? What if mine end up growing up in a country half a world away?

Funerals are important too, and honouring the folks who pass and keeping their memories warm in our hearts.

So you’ll understand if you catch me having a cry in the supermarket later on today. Or on the bus another day.

We’re so lucky to live in Australia. I’m so happy to live here, and for all this pain, would make the same choices again. But you never lose the love of the old country and the old folks.



PS My sister took the photo at the top of this post, thanks Morag, More of her beautiful photos coming.  


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Posted on: August 27, 2013


  • Reply August 27, 2013


    Thinking of you today Seana. I can imagine it must be very hard.
    Leanne @ Deep Fried Fruit

  • Reply August 27, 2013


    This post resonates with me – the majority of my family is overseas in Greece. I’m so sorry about this, missing your grandad’s funeral. It is the unfortunate people pay when they leave the mother land.
    Take time out today to remember him and appreciate all that he was. X

    • Reply August 27, 2013

      Seana Smith

      My husband has written some lovely words for his Dad, who was a good, kind man. Our children have lost both their grandads now, great loss for them.

  • Oh Seana, this is very beautiful and you have brought tears to my eyes this morning. I even missed my own dad’s funeral. It is a hard time and so sorry you can’t be there with your hubby and his family. I know they will be missing you sadly too.

    Loved reading about your granny, she looks and sounds great – a battler and a battleaxe! Something to aspire too 🙂

  • Reply August 27, 2013


    Sometimes it’s just so hard being so far away. My granny and pappy in Scotland have both died in the last few years and while it’s heartbreaking knowing I’ll never see them again and the kids will never know them, it’s also a wrench not being able to be there to say goodbye with the family. I feel worse for my dad, who couldn’t get to either funeral. Thinking of you, and sending virtual hugs to you and all your family.xxoo

  • Sending hugs your way. It must be so hard for you to be on the other side of the world from your family. They know you love them though and would be there if you could. As for your Gran, what great advice. The smiling certainly worked for her. She looked like a spring chicken for 95 🙂

  • Reply August 27, 2013


    Oh Seana, I have the goosebumps and a wee tear in my eye. What a sad day, go ahead and blub it’s good for the soul. And while I bet you feel bad you didn’t go to Bessie’s funeral, she sounds like she would have understood. What a life she had. Hugs and hugs to you today lovely lady xxx

  • Reply August 27, 2013


    Sending love to you today.

  • Reply August 27, 2013

    Hotly Spiced

    I’m so sorry Seana. That is such sad news. It’s times like this when the distance between here and home seems so much further. Best wishes to u and all your family at this time. I’ll have a wee cry with u xx

  • Reply August 27, 2013

    Five Degrees of Chaos

    I’m sorry for your loss 🙁 And I can relate, I still regret not being able to go home to NZ for my great aunts funeral when she died in 2011, she was a very special part of our lives. In the end we decided to celebrate her life in another way, we named our daughter, born 9 months after her passing, after her 🙂

  • Reply August 27, 2013


    My last grandparent, my grandma died while I was in Tokyo. I met mum in Jakarta so I could be there for her. And I’m so glad I did.
    I know exactly what you mean about this being the hardest part of emigration. Logistics, suck. Especially when they get in the way of love and loss.
    Your Gran looks like she was a real trouper.
    Big hugs to you, Seana xxx

  • Reply August 27, 2013


    I’m late here today Seana, but I’m thinking of you and sending you big virtual hugs. Your darling granny Bessie would know that you were with her in your heart, those years ago.
    I’m so sorry for you, your husband and your families’ loss. xx

  • Reply August 28, 2013


    This made me a little sad. However, I think the funeral is (although important) just a day. The memories that linger are how you keep your Gran alive in your heart and you can’t lose that no matter the distance 🙂

  • Reply August 28, 2013


    Oh Seana I hope the day went ok for you. I have many friends who have emigrated here and I know they have had very similar experiences. I think funerals are important but what is more important is the legacy and the memories you carry with you throughout your life. Lots of love to you x

  • Reply August 29, 2013


    I know how you feel! I missed both my grandfathers funerals when I was living in America and my husband missed both his Grandmothers because we had moved back to Australia. It’s hard having to grieve alone as well, and not having the chance to say a real goodbye. Being across the world from family is so hard! x Karen #teamIBOT

  • Reply August 31, 2013

    Lydia C. Lee

    Hope you managed. How sad.

  • Reply September 2, 2013


    This comment comes a bit late Seana but just stopping by to say I’m so sorry for your loss. I understand how you can feel at the moment.

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