It’s been really hard writing this blog post but it’s something that I very much wanted to do. One of the reasons I started my blog was because I wanted a place for me to express myself, think out loud and write down what’s going on in #MyWorld, what I’m learning and how I’m feeling.

‘Life’ has been very tough for us as a family since we lost Gary in February. Darren lost his dad, Alfie and Betsy lost their much loved Grandad and I lost my Father-in-law.

It’s hard to put into words how you feel when you lose someone very dear to your heart but something that I feel compelled to do.

My motivation behind writing ‘My World’ is the hope that my blog becomes a place for family, in particular Alfie and Betsy to reminisce over, feel comforted by and for those readers who know us to feel somehow closer to us and know us a little better despite maybe not seeing us for a long time.

This blog post is about my memories of Gary – he will never be forgotten and I know he will be remembered in many blog posts to come. So here goes…

In English the meaning of the name ‘Gary’ is ‘hard or bold spear’. Gary was definitely courageous and a very brave man and in terms of being ‘hard’ he wasn’t easily broken despite what life threw at him.

I have many fond memories of Gary and l loved the time we often spent together especially on my day’s off and during both times I was on maternity leave. When everybody else was working, we would often indulge in a lunch time treat which included fish and chips, pizza, yummy snacks from the near by M&S garage and cakes from the local bakery.He would take great joy in spending this solo time with both baby Alf and Betsy-Ann, especially as Nanny wasn’t around to steel the lime light!

He always did the lunch time bottle feeds and for a man who didn’t like hugs he certainly made an exception to enjoy a few cuddles with each of them, especially in those early months…

Gary and I had ‘diabetes’ in common during my pregnancies with both children. He would often tease me like we all teased him regularly by asking me whether I had checked my blood sugar levels. We’d then share notes on how low or high we were running.

Everybody who knew him will remember hearing at least once: “Gary are you Low”. Both my niece Leia and Alfie heard it regularly and knew exactly what to do – even from an early age they knew they had to grab the ‘Lucozade’ bottle out of Nanny’s hand bag.Luckily for me I only had gestational diabetes and actually only had to inject myself with insulin a couple of times during both pregnancies. However for Gary this was a daily occurrence for years and years. He lived with type 1 diabetes for over 50 years and a couple of years ago received the Alan Nabarro medal award for reaching 50 years of living with diabetes. An amazing achievement!

It takes a good man to be a great listener and Gary was certainly this. He was someone you could always go to for a good chat or to just off load to and feel better. Some how, I always left a conversation with Gary feeling much more relaxed and calmer about life. A little ironic that he was often the one you could moan about life to but he would never moan about his own life predicament.

There was something about Grandad Gary that all the Grandchildren adored. Alfie loved his baking and his sense of adventure and Betsy just loved the comfort of Grandad and sitting on his knee for snuggles. Grandad Gary was always up for an adventure and despite his mobility issues always found ways to enjoy getting outside as much as Alfie. Gary would often be found tinkering with his bikes in his garage whilst Alfie would pretend to fix and wash his toy cars and bikes – just to spend time with and be like Grandad. Alfie also enjoyed helping him maintain his garden pond and regularly helped feed, clean and re-name all his fish for him.

Furthermore, Alfie regularly pretends to be a builder just like both his Grandad’s. Alfie always referred to Grandad Gary as our very own ‘Bob the builder’. He was a carpenter by trade but would have a go at most building work be it plumbing, painting, tiling, flooring etc. and was a perfectionist at all. I remember staying over one weekend and waking up to Gary installing a new boiler all by himself. Alfie has a tool set, work bench and plenty of bits and pieces to help fix things – just like Grandad Gary’s garage which is not only full of bike parts but also lots of tools.

Whenever Darren begins a new building project at home he will often go to his ‘Dad’s B&Q store’ to see what he can nab for free before heading to the shops.

As soon as walking distances became difficult for him the addition of a mobility scooter became an instant hit with all the grandchildren. Alfie often forgot the purpose of the scooter and took turns with his cousin Leia to drive it aided by Nanny, Daddy or Auntie Lou around the neighbourhood block!

He always made great cakes, not to mention his chocolate cake or Victoria sponge and he always let the grandchildren help even if it did get a bit messy. He was our very own Mary Berry in cake making and would make all of us yummy birthday cakes despite how he might have been feeling. It was always a ‘done deal’ that Grandad would make the cake!

If health was a poker game Gary was dealt a pretty shocking hand which only seemed to get worse over the years. He was also what we all called a ‘bullet dodger’. He had a cracking poker face and never ever showed his hand. Despite being poorly he always managed to put on a ‘brave face’ and if you met him and didn’t know his health score you would have thought he looked a very well man.

Even though things changed over the years Gary still remained the same awesome person that he always was. He loved his son and daughter and his grandchildren, yet also genuinely loved me and my brother-in-law Liam as a son and daughter ‘in-law’.

My Father-in-law will forever be appreciated and celebrated because he always seemed to make life better in his own quirky and funny way whether it was with his jokes, playful teasing, story telling and what not.

As a Grandad he will always be treasured and remembered – a true inspiration with silver in his hair and a mass of gold in his heart.