Sometimes I think we need to take a step back and appreciate what we have.
This blog is usually dedicated to my writing but today I’ve decided to write a post in memory of a very special lady who, sadly, passed a year ago today after a brave battle against cancer.
My husband’s grandmother, Angela Mary Walsh, was one of the strongest women I’ve ever met. At 82, and small in stature, you would be forgiven for thinking that, at a glance, she was a frail old lady. Just one conversation with her would tell you otherwise. Weak is not something you would’ve remembered about Angela.
Angela was born in Ireland and had to raise her siblings when she lost her mother at a very young age. She eventually came to England and raised a family with her husband who was a blacksmith and champion boxer. She was an extraordinary lady, who may have been small, but certainly packed a punch. She stood her ground and fought for what she believed in. She was feisty, strong-willed and quite a character.
I used to love going to visit her, because I knew she would always welcome us with open arms, so pleased to see us and by the end of the visit I would usually be leaving with smudged eyeliner having spent a few hours crying with laughter. She had this talent for telling stories. She was, in some ways, like a grandparent I never really had.
My own nan on my Mother’s side died before I was born, and my granddad passed when I was three. On my Father’s side, my granddad died when my Dad was eight, and I never got to meet my grandmother. I only got to know Angela in her later years when I met her grandson, Daniel, who is now my husband. That was nearly ten years ago, but from what I saw in the time that I knew her, she lived for her family. They meant everything to her. She loved children and she was fortunate enough to meet some of her great-grandchildren.
I have so many fond memories. At my wedding in 2009 we had a piper and, curious to see if he was a ‘real Scotsman’, Angela took a peep up his kilt. I remember the table she was sitting at were in constant fits of laughter, and all down to a little Irish woman.
Later that year, Angela met one of her idols, David Dickinson and appeared on his show Dickinson’s Real Deal that aired in the UK in 2010. She was the first and only person I’ve seen that dared give him a kiss on air, nearly knocking him off his feet in the process.
That was Angela. Larger than life.
In 2011 she was diagnosed with lung cancer. It was a huge blow. It was Angela’s strong will and fighting spirit that kept her here for as long as possible. I think she surprised the doctors, but she didn’t surprise her family. This was Angela Walsh. She was a fighter. She kicked cancer’s backside for over a year after being diagnosed and had no chemotherapy.
I consider it a great privilege to have spent the evening before she passed with some of the family by her bedside in hospital. She was very ill but could still talk and retained her humour. When she passed the next day, she wasn’t alone. We were there. It was literally the end of an era for us.
A lot has changed in a year but my lasting memory of Angela will always be her kindness, wit and strength of character. She was quite a lady and an inspiration.
Greatly missed but never forgotten.