Sweet dreams, pretty lady

Ten days before Christmas my lovely grandma passed away. She went to bed one Friday night and never woke up again. It was the most gut wrenching shock for those of us she left behind, but the massive stroke that took her would have done so with such speed, it’s unlikely she knew anything about it. There’s comfort in knowing that she effectively just went to sleep.

Hard as we tried, Christmas wasn’t quite right. It was like a jigsaw puzzle with a missing piece. It felt all wrong to be opening the presents she’d carefully wrapped without being able to give her a big kiss of thanks afterwards.  Seeing her handwriting expressing her wish for a merry Christmas made my tummy flip. We held her funeral and said goodbye two days ago. It broke my heart.

Rosemary Davies chose to live on the brighter side of life. It was infectious. Before my grandad, Glyn, died four years ago, they had an inexplicable presence when they entered a room. They weren’t loud or overbearing, they were just fun. They were happy people.

After Grandad was beaten by pneumonia and once her initial pain at losing him had eased a little, Grandma carried on enjoying life. She believed it was the best way to pay tribute to him. She never stopped missing him, but she was determined to persevere. I envied her tenacity.

Grandma was a bundle of contradictions. She managed to be adorably ditsy at times, yet curious and clever at others. She was gentle, but never let anyone take her for a fool. She allowed herself to be vulnerable, but inside she was one of the toughest people I’ve known.

I always felt I could talk to her about things that others might not be so open to. That was because Grandma gave her opinion but never forced it. I loved that about her. She had a way of separating what she would choose for herself from what was best for other people. She respected everyone’s right to make their own life choices, whether she agreed with them or not. Both she and my grandad encouraged me to follow my heart, to chase my dreams and to relinquish regrets.

When Grandma began having some problems with vertigo a couple of years ago, she talked to me about it a lot. She knew I’d understand. She was so intensely frustrated that she couldn’t just get on the bus and go about her daily business without company. I knew how maddening it felt to have to ask for help when we wanted to do things for ourselves. We wished each other better, but the familiar experiences helped us both.

While my mum and I drove to Grandma’s house on the morning my dad and brother found her, the one thing I kept repeating through a veil of tears was that she never gave up. She never gave in. She always kept going. The same sentiment has been swimming around my head for the past couple of weeks. That, along with her inherent silver-lining mentality, shines on. We shared a certain stubbornness too. That’s definitely not a complaint on my part, though, my friends and family might find it a less appealing trait than I do.

Sweet dreams, pretty lady. I love you. I miss your smile. I admire you more than you would ever have believed. I promise to never give up, to never give in and to always keep going.

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