I wanted to write this post yesterday but illness prevented it so it is a day late but I have been thinking about family far afield as they celebrated the birth of a wonderful lady, mother, wife and friend. Yesterday would have been her 62nd birthday but she passed away just over 2 years ago, taken by a cruel illness that is cancer and leaving a gaping hole in the lives of those she left behind who miss her still and always will and so I wanted to honour her memory by writing from my own perspective and own memory of this wonderful lady.
(Kay Teeter – 1954-2014)
The image above was taken in 2006 and was one of the last times, if not the last time that I saw my Auntie Kay. It was taken on one of her visits back to England to visit us and other family members and is how I will always picture her – happy and smiling – she was always smiling! I spent some time this weekend looking over old pictures of her as I gathered my thoughts together and that is what struck me about her. Every image, even those when she was ill and towards the end of her life she was smiling. I have a sense her life had brought her much contentment and joy – it radiated from her!
Auntie Kay was born on 14 August 1954, the youngest of four children to my Grandparents Arthur and Eva McNama. My earliest memory of her is being a bridesmaid at her wedding in 1977 – I was six years old. I remember clearly how exciting that was for me at that age to be a bridesmaid for the first time. My Grandparents lived in East Grinstead, Sussex and we lived in Ashton-under-Lyne near Manchester and so we travelled to Sussex and stayed over at my Grandparents house for the wedding. That was an adventure in itself for me, camping down on the bedroom floor and rising early to prepare for the wedding. I wore the prettiest pink handmade dress with a flowery print that had the sweetest opalescent buttons to the front and cuffs and carried a posy of dried flowers shaped into a ball hung from a pink ribbon. (I kept that posy for a long long time after the wedding until it eventually disintegrated and had to be disposed of) I remember walking down the aisle with her as my Auntie married her sweetheart. She was given away by my Grandma because her father, my Granddad had passed away earlier that same year and so he wasn’t physically there to give his daughter away. I walked behind her and had an amazing view of her long long veil and train and yes, I stood on it bringing the procession to a halt briefly – I’m sure she never held it against me!
(Auntie Kay’s wedding – 5 Nov 1977)
I was her only bridesmaid, at that stage being her only niece and so I felt special and Auntie Kay always made you feel special. She moved to the US after marrying my Uncle Tom who is American but never forgot her English connections and made as many return visits as she possibly could. Time and distance did nothing to diminish her relationship with us. We were still special to her and she always made you feel so. I think each of us had our own unique relationship with her and she gave something different to each of us – she had a unique talent for giving exactly what was needed in any situation. I remember her holding and consoling me over the phone when my life’s course took an unexpected turn and I was at a personal crossroads in my life. She cried with me and told me I was loved and I will never forget her compassion. A natural born carer, she was a nurse and became a surgery scrub technician in the Labour and Delivery Suite at Riverside Methodist Hospital which was a job she loved greatly. Her caring and compassionate nature no doubt impacted on the lives of many not least her family.
(Kay – the nurse)
Every image you could see of my Auntie Kay she is usually surrounded by family – that is obviously what was most important to her. One of her visits to England was with my Uncle and all their children and my family. I forget how many of us were there now but there were a lot of us together that descended upon Blackpool for the Illuminations. We must have been quite a spectacle but what I’ll never forget is the laughter and sense of togetherness we shared on that visit. She had four children and I think at last count it was seven Grandchildren who adore her. Everybody adored her. My own daughter was so influenced by her and felt so strongly at her passing that she wanted to raise some funds for Cancer Research UK as her own personal tribute to her. You don’t have to be famous or accomplished or a record breaker to be remembered in life. Some people live long and hard in your memory just for the simple things they do that touch your heart. Some people just raise a smile with a mention of their name and Auntie Kay is one of those people. Happy Birthday Auntie Kay – I’m sure you are doing good things and touching others wherever you are. You are loved and you are missed!
(Auntie Kay with her legacy – her family!)