When my grandmother died, I think I missed her spirit the most. There is something that is empty when a guiding light leaves you. Someone you have known all your life.
She led a simple, lonely life, despite having us around her. I knew about some of that life. The loss of my grandfather in his 50’s, her grief forever after, her childhood memories, being at the seaside when the First World War broke out, working in a factory and a pub. Her blue bike with a basket she used, to go to the shops. The tins she hid to save for the electric or the rent. Her friend the TV in the corner of her council flat. I used to visit her after school or on my paper round. Every time, she greeted me like a first time, a warmth, an exclamation. She looked after me when my parents went out. She let me eat a whole packet of cheddars once and didn’t tell me off when I was sick. She would shine in front of me. Absolutely shine.
She was never in prison, never led a people or a country. Never got involved in politics or a movement. She never drew much attention to herself. She served, did her duty, loved her family. An ordinary life. So why do I think about my grandmother, when one of the great world leaders of our time, Nelson Mandela leaves us?
Because we have lost a light – a guiding, comforting spirit. An anchor and a beacon. A safe, calm and wise port, where gravitas, kindness, forgiveness and humility lives. A rock to hang on to. Pure inspiration to float in. Leaders in their own way, who in life did their duty on earth. My grandmother and Nelson Mandela.