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We often idolize people who come in and out of our lives, with many taking the form of a famous sports person, film star or musician. However for me, it was and always will be my Grandma.
Joan or Joanie to most, was born in 1919 and was 1 of 7 children. Living through the war and using her creative skills to make the Lancaster bombers, she experienced the chilling events of those 6 dark years. After the war she married my granddad Stan, who was actually introduced to her whilst he was fighting out in Burma. She then had two children, my Dad John and my aunty Joy. They were brought up in their house in Barnes (Church Road), which many of you know became the meeting place for 4 generations of Roake’s over the last 5 decades.
A few years ago my Grandma lost her fight to cancer at the age of 93, after spending years fighting this horrible disease.
Many of the charity appeals you hear are sad stories, with life being taken away too early or in an unexpected manner. For us we were somewhat lucky, Grandma lived to the age 93 and for you that knew her she lived each and every one of those years to the fullest. We managed to have time with her, time that has made me and the people who were close to her better people.
Everyone thinks that their family members are special but with ‘Grandma’ to me she was a walking angel. She radiated happiness, however sad or upset you were feeling, 10 minutes with her would sort you out. She was generous and hospitably, the doors to Church Road were always open, with many a Roake and non-Roake taking up refuge over the last 50 years. She was positive, a bad word never left her mouth. However much someone wronged her or her family, she never condemned that person and no negativity would ever be heard.
It was in her actions and social activity that you saw all these traits come to life. If you wanted her to come for Christmas day, you would need to get your invite in by January as she would have another 5 invites coming in if you left it any later. However inviting her at Christmas would mean that you would have to watch her open her 100 presents, which had been given to her my all family and friends she had touched over the previous year.
The one thing that really sticks in my mind and really sums her up was at the age of 88/89, she turned round to me one day and said “Paul, I’m just popping over to the nursing home to help with the old people”. These people were 20 years younger than her but her love for life and her unbelievable levels of kindness kept her giving to her last day.
That just leaves me to answer why Trinity?
Well towards the end, Grandma’s condition deteriorated and she needed professional care. For this proud, independent lady the support she received during her time at Trinity allowed her to live out her last days with dignity and peacefulness.
It takes a special people to support the families during these difficult times and Trinity was full of them. From the reception staff, through the nurses the level of care and attention we received was outstanding. Losing people is never easy, we were losing the heart of our family, the pivotal part of our lives, the constant we could all rely on but with the support and care that Trinity provided to my Grandma and the family, we were able to close this chapter in the best possible way.
I will be carrying the spirit my Grandma, a proud Londoner, around the streets of the city to honour her and the work of this fantastic charity and would ask for your support to provide the funds to keep their amazing work going, if I can help just one other family get through their difficult time that would be amazing.
Thank you for reading…