creative non-fiction remembrance

Ashes

Hannah Powley reflects on her grandfather's battle with Alzheimer's, and what it took away from them both, in this fiercely powerful personal essay.

by Hannah Powley

Even before I was born we were tightly linked. Tied together as family. Invisible bonds, but no less solid, filled with that stubborn Yorkshire spirit. You were the endless tea-giver, Jelly Baby-hoarder, filled with stories to lift even the darkest of toddler tantrums and bursts of teenage tempers. In each precious moment that peppered my spring-green years, our bonds grew thicker, enriched by the love that only you could give.  

It started as a soft glow, the innocent ember of a forgotten name, the spark of hallucination that danced before your eyes. It gorged itself on the rich details of your personality, turning them to ash.

The fire left us with only your shell; a hollow case, cavernous in the absence of what it should contain. It didn’t care for the emotional ties that bound us, nor the memories we shared. Nothing we had was strong enough to dampen its appetite and your fragile fingers couldn’t cling onto the darkened remains of the life you’d led.

“It gorged itself on the rich details of your personality, turning them to ash.”

The flames consumed every inch of you. And as you slid further away from me, the flames wrapped around each of our ties. In those final moments my skin burns and my heart struggles to keep its rhythm, while your mind stills for the final time.

Now our bonds hang in rags around my frame, while no home remains for them on your wasted body. No more proof that we are bound by so much more than blood. And my nerves mirror the fire that once raged in your mind.

And now the leaves are falling, trees shedding at the rate your mind disposed of the memories we built, in the fleeting years we had. The air is filled with the tang of bonfires and I’m reminded of the ashes you left behind.


Hannah Powley | @Hannah_Monster | Instagram: Hannah_M0nster

Hannah spends her days surrounded by words. A content marketing pro by day and an avid reader and writer by night, she’s still relatively new to sharing her work with the wider world, but gradually growing in confidence and on a mission to defeat her procrastination demons and writer’s block.

2 comments on “Ashes

  1. What a talent to share something so painful, in such a beautiful way.

    Like

  2. Brookfield

    What beautiful poignant words Hannah that are written with so much feeling.

    Like

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