Monday, April 10, 2023

Margaret Gray: A Tribute

We held the church service at St Mary's then buried Mum on Thursday in Denbigh Town cemetery. Many thanks to the Church, funeral directors and staff at the Guildhall for a wonderful service, funeral and wake. 

Also, to our family and friends, who came from near and far, to show respect, share our grief but also to celebrate Mum's life. A lot of laughter as well as tears. 

Special thanks to Matthew for his very special tribute to his Nain and also to Rachel and Hannah for sharing with us the privilege of being pallbearers. We had a special family time with David via Facetime across the pond in Arizona. 

I have been overwhelmed with kindness and understanding in person and online. Below is my tribute from the service to Mum. 

"I would like to thank everyone, family and friends, for being here today to help Helen, Lucy and I remember and also celebrate the life of our mother, Margaret Gray.

Mum was born Margaret “Matthews” in Denbigh in 1941. Daughter of Fredrick and Hannah. It was a large family by modern standards, she had 7 brothers and sisters

Joyce, David, Ann, Rose, Jean, Jim and Dan. Sadly most are now gone but we still have Auntie Ann and Auntie Rose with us today.

My Taid was a decorated hero in World War One, who met Nain when they both worked pre NHS in a local hospital. I believe that all the children at some point in their lives worked in the famous Denbigh hospital as nurses, administration staff, technical, porters, chiefs and drivers. Our Mum was a nurse there before she met our father Johnnie.

They married and set up home in Buckley where Mum juggled bringing us up with various jobs such as a secretary for a glazing company and then working for the motor tax in Mold. The family later moved along the north wales coast and ended up first in Holywell then Colwyn Bay. The marriage didn’t work out and she and Dad parted. She came back to Denbigh for several years before moving to an exceptional flat in Llys Awelon, Ruthin which she absolutely loved and which she relished decorating and tastefully furnishing.

Her children, her grandchildren Mathew, Hannah, Rachel, David and now her great grandchildren, Evan and Rohan, were most important to her but she also loved good food, her audio books, watching her telly, politics and buying bargains on the internet.

A few years ago in her 70s she had unexpectedly asked us for a iPad as her Christmas present. She had never previously shown much interest in the internet but within a little while she was up and running with internet banking and buying everything she needed online, especially if it was at a discount. Sometimes she would make the odd error and order 8 pairs of slippers instead of 1 but Helen would dutifully take back the returns on her weekly visits.

More seriously, I think it is important to bring up that life had been at times, very difficult for Mum and the wider family. Mum did suffer at times from mental health issues which impacted not only on her but also those who loved her.

The final chapter in Mums life was dominated by physical health problems and the 3 of us pay tribute to the staff at Llys Awelon and our NHS who cared for her until the very end.

The end came suddenly on March 14 but not unexpected, she passed peacefully in her sleep in her beloved home. Alas, she did not meet her ambition to outlive her own maternal Nain, who lived until she was 90. And I know Mum would be annoyed about that.

But the memory I will treasure is from September last year when we received the call from hospital that all families must dread. Please come to see your mum ASAP. Ironically it was the same day that it was announced that the late Queen Elizabeth was unwell. As I drove up from London I was convinced that both were already gone. However, despite being seriously ill, within 24 hours she was alert and awake, joking and gossiping with the 3 of and making plans to return to her home.

This is the memory I will cherish. So goodbye Mum. Thank you for the many, many good times and good bye".  

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