The end of an era for our family. My much-loved mother-in-law was finally released from her suffering. We are now the oldest generation. And so time moves on.
I met her nearly 40 years ago. We were as different as chalk and cheese. We learnt to appreciate, respect, and love each other, and as the years went by took it in turns to look after each other.
We took holidays away together, explored London, Paris and Pembrokeshire, and Bruges. Laughed a lot. Were puzzled and annoyed at times by each other (of course).
She was the best nanna ever a grandchild could have. Unconditional love. A fierce ‘family comes first’ ethos governed her life. They loved her back just as unconditionally, and would have done (and did do) anything for her.
After the stroke, overnight she was transformed from being completely independent to completely dependent and lost her speech. Despite numerous setbacks and illnesses, and despite her fervent and daily expressed wish throughout to be dead rather than living this life, she managed somehow to summon up some extraordinary strength and abilities.
She became an amazing mime artist, managing to convey a host of emotions, including often extreme frustration. She could amuse and tease her carers and make them laugh with her. She created some devastatingly funny mimes of some of her carers. Her sense of humour never abated.
Always a gregarious person, she inspired love and affection from everyone at her care home across the range – carers, nurses, the maintenance man, the kitchen assistants, residents, visitors, volunteers. Any morning she wasn’t there sitting at her usual place in the cafe down at the entrance to the building (the spot with the best view of all the comings and goings, of course), with her cup of hot chocolate and her magazines to hand, people would wonder if she was ok and where she was. As they passed through the cafe, she would summon people over for a hand squeeze and a hug. Others would come up for a quiet word of encouragement in her ear. So touching, so moving. So much appreciated.
We sons and daughters-in-law worked hard and unrelentingly in the years since the stroke devastated her life to support, amuse and entertain her, and provide her with good care. Despite the inevitable strains on our relationships, we kept it going till the end and beyond. We have given our children and their partners a good role model for how families can be at their best.
Cheers Peg! You’ll always be with us, and remembered with enormous love and affection. You made us be a family. We owe you a lot.