For my last HTC post of 2013 I wrote about the heroines of the last 12 months. Three days later, one of mine died.

She wasn’t from the world of politics, music, entertainment, or sport. She didn’t change the world with any grand gestures, or acts of defiance. But like most people’s personal heroes or heroines, she changed mine with a million small, almost invisible touches.

gran's hands
Photo Credit – Karen Lunney

From my first memory of her, she was there with a protective hand, telling me to watch my step, but urging me to be bold. When I stepped out of line or became frustrated, her quiet, studied patience made me see there was another way. When I was ungrateful – complaining about something I didn’t have, hadn’t been given – her very measured manner of talking about what life was like for her growing up (never preaching, mind) brought me back down to earth with a bump. And when, as was often the case in the last few years, I saw her enduring the most unbearable pain with just the tiniest flinch, only the slightest intake of breath, her incredible bravery and fortitude moved me to remember how damn lucky I am.

She was my Gran, and she passed away aged 93. All deaths are sad, and represent a loss to someone. But I feel I can’t be sad for too long. She built and lived a life that she loved and told me many times she wouldn’t have changed it for the world. And while we are grieving as a family – grief at losing such a brilliantly strong, intelligent, and endlessly kind woman – I mainly feel grateful to have known her at all.

Everyone this week has been talking about New Year’s resolutions – what they’ll be (most likely weight loss related, so we’re told) and how long they’ll last (around two weeks, apparently). I’ll make a few of those too, but I’ll also take what she taught me, more than anything else, into 2014: that gratitude and good grace cost nothing.

I hope she’d like that.

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