For those in peril on the sea Joseph

Interior of the St Laurenskerk in Rotterdam (detail). Anthonie De Lorme, 1665 © National Gallery of Ireland

By the time my grandad died, my gran’s Alzheimer's was significantly progressed. This was made painfully evident by the fact that she continually had to be reminded that he had passed away.

As the family planned his funeral she sat among us silently, seemingly oblivious, while we chatted about arrangements: the church, the readings, the hymns...

My grandad had been in the Navy, so we were trying to remember the Navy hymn [‘Eternal Father, Strong to Save’], which is often associated with seafarers, and at the time we were unable to recall it. Taking us all by surprise, my gran started singing the most famous line of the hymn, For those in peril on the sea’. Even at such a poignant moment, we could not escape the irony that memory had failed all of us, except Gran.