Thursday the 18th April 2019
Firstly, I want to extend a thank you from my family to yours. Seeing you all here today is touching and poignant.
There aren’t enough minutes in time to showcase how special gran was and always will be to me, but If I can give you a glimpse in the next few minutes, that will be plentiful.
Her death was a dread that’s hung over our family for years. Even as a little girl, nothing terrified me more than losing gran. But still, no preparation would have sufficed and no extra years would have ever been satisfying.
Her life is one that deserves a telenovela. After a difficult upbringing and suffering the loss of both her parents, she married the love of her life at 16. After seven children, seven grandchildren, 59 years of marriage and a flurry of pets later, it’s safe to say that her luck had turned around. No matter where or what she was doing, our family came first.
Even in the last few days, she was reluctant to say goodbye. Her grip was heroic and even with her eyes shut her endless kisses were welcomed. I can’t sugar-coat how hard those last days were for our family. Words can never do our pain justice, but she held on like the fighter she was, the fighter she proved to be countless times throughout her life. When she had no choice but to let go, I know it was the hardest thing she ever had to do. And letting her go was one of the hardest things we’ll ever go through.
For such a tiny lady, she had the biggest and strongest heart. Her smile said it all, the genuine happiness she felt whenever she saw any of us. It’s in the way she kept secrets and solved all of our problems with food. Speaking of, her tortilla de patata, ensaladilla, torijas, arroz con leche and her acclaimed roast potatoes will go down in generational history. She cooked with love and she loved to feed. If you weren’t stuffed by the end of a meal, she hadn’t done the job right.
What made gran so irreplaceable is that you didn’t have to know her well or long enough to remember her, she had the ability to make everyone love her so effortlessly. She could light up any given room with her laugh, she made everyone around her feel at ease, and her overuse of the phrase ‘hello darling’ was all part of her comforting character. She loved singing happy birthday in Italian, and so it became part of our family tradition. Although birthdays will never be the same, we’ll be singing as joyfully as you once used to.
Gran didn’t speak much English but over the years, she picked up a few British traits. The first being her love of tea, with four teaspoons of sugar, then her slathers of Lurpack on fresh bread, she was enthralled with UK soaps, in particular, Corrie and Emmerdale and more comically, she was a hush-hush Jeremey Kyle fan and loved ridiculing Boris Johnson and Donald Trump for their mop-like hair. She was funny, kind, gentle, truthful and so breathtakingly beautiful from the inside out.
Hindsight is a wonderful thing. And over time I’ve realised that our love, no matter how intense, could never match up to hers. She loved all of her children, grandchildren, their significant others and family so boldly, passionately and courageously. Despite everything, she faced the world with unparalleled hope and optimism.
She made me feel loved every day, unconditionally and I hope that she knew that my love was reciprocated enormously. I already miss her advice, but I know she will guide me through every opportunity and obstacle. Cheering me on from the side-lines.
Grief is unfamiliar territory for me, and the aftermath isn’t a one size fits all. I used to have this preconceived idea, and the reality doesn’t come close. But the last two weeks have reminded me that people are guests in your story – the same way you are only a guest in theirs, so make the chapters worth reading. I got 25 chapters with gran, each as valuable as the next but within those, my most treasured memories are ones where I would sing and dance for her in the living room, while she clapped from the comfort of her recliner.
Since her passing, I close my eyes and I go back to the Saturdays where we fed pigeons in the park before walking hand in hand to MacDonald’s for a happy meal. A custom I intend to pass down to my own grandchildren, although I might opt for a fruit bag too.
All of us here are incredibly lucky to have known her, we were blessed with a one-of-a-kind mother, selfless grandmother and an all-round best friend.
If there’s anything that I’ve learnt from this hardship it’s that if gran could hold on to life for so long despite her pain, then we can certainly get through this difficult time and honour her legacy going forward. She never took life for granted, and she lived it to the full. In fact, she always used to say that this life was a holiday and that one day we would move onto a better place, so it’s with the heaviest heart that I say rest in sweet peace.
Give our love to granddad, your parents, our furry friends and everyone else with you. I love you every day. And now I will miss you every day. But tonight, when I picture your eyes as I fall asleep, I’ll tell myself that it’ll be alright because this isn’t goodbye, it’s a see you later. I promise we’ll be dancing together again very soon.