This is Olive. She's my Grandma and she died last month at the age of 92. She was an incredible woman in every way (yes - that is a donkey that she's holding!) and she taught me so much - most of which I am only just beginning to appreciate.
Not only was my Granny incredibly bright (she was one of the first women to graduate from medicine at Liverpool university) but she was also excessively kind and indiscriminately so. She was honest and strong and grounded and never failed to see the funny side of life and of herself. She most certainly wasn't your average Granny. True, she cooked a wonderful Sunday roast, but she also took us hiking, taught us to dive and regularly thrashed us at scrabble. Then of course there were the unspoken, but far more important lessons; That women could be doctors AND mothers, that they could be smart and kind, that Grandmas could be sporty and energetic, that life is for living and every opportunity should be seized, and that we should never take ourselves too seriously.
While she taught me much about living she also taught me an awful lot about dying. My granny wasn't unwell, she was just old and tired and decided that it was time to go. She understood that she was leaving us and she was content. She was looking forward to a release from all the frustrations and limitations of old age and eager to be reunited with my grandpa. She wasn't afraid of dying which, to me at least, is something of a mindbogglingly admirable feat. I suppose that is a true sign of having lived a long and meaningful life. But the most wonderful thing about her being at peace with this was that it allowed us an opportunity to say goodbye, and to say thank you.
Reflecting on my grandmother's life has got me wondering what sort of person I will be remembered as. This 'wondering' inevitably leads me to the rather depressing conclusion that I have a long, long way to go before I could be content with my contribution to the world, let alone proud of it. Looking at yourself honestly, seeing yourself as you truly are and acknowledging all of your faults and weaknesses is never a pleasurable task, but it is a hopeful one and one that makes me determined to do better. Granny has left us with the most wonderful footsteps to follow in and all we can do now is look to her example and try our best.
Goodbye Granny. We're going to miss you enormously.