In the years since, Mam has been a consistently supportive, loving presence in my life, and a wonderful grandmother to our son. She and I sometimes got on each other's nerves, no-one's perfect! She didn't like reading, for example, so I always had the comment "Oh! So we're in the library now, are we?" whenever I got a book out on holiday, which used to rattle my cage, but we always made things up, and we had lots of good times. I valued her kindness, generosity and patience. She was steadfast, a stalwart. She and Dycu (Welsh for
Grandad) had my son Tom to stay for all of his summers. Dycu passed away seventeen years ago, and Mam stoically carried on without him.
This will be our first Christmas season without seeing Mam since 1975. I miss her. And, as always when a loved one passes away, cannot help reflecting on ways I could have been more loving. In my mind, Mam's faults have flown up and away, like chaff in the wind, and what is left is the memory of the goodness at the heart of her.
Tolstoy wrote in his diary as a very young man:
"The powerful means for achieving true happiness in life is - and without any dogmas - to spread out from oneself, in every direction, like a spider, a whole spider's web of love, and to catch in it everything that comes along - whether it is an old woman or a child, a girl or a
At this time of celebration of love and light, reading this encourages me to try and give as many hugs, kisses, pats, and expressions of warmth and goodwill, as I can. Christmas is one of those times when you can feel extra lonely and unloved if you're on the outside of things.