Terrence Barton Kelly, born on September 4th 1921 in Dublin, Ireland. You were my maternal grandfather. You moved from Ireland with my grandmother, Patricia Mary Kelly, when my mother was very young.
Father to 4 children, Patrick, Debby Anne and Jane, and grandfather to many grandchildren, you loved your family so much.
You were there for me in the good times and the bad, when I came into the world, one of identical twins, we didn’t know what to expect when I was diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy and Hydrocephalus including visual impairments.
You accepted me unconditionally always, and you and Gran visited me in hospital during the recovery periods from my shunt surgeries and were so happy every time I came home afterwards. You taught me not to be scared of medical procedures and to be brave.
You were so proud of the mixed cultural heritage of our family: those from England, the USA and Ireland, and adored other cultures, too. I would listen, hooked on your stories, as you and Gran told me about your latest trip to the US, or farther afield, to places I dreamed of going. I think you would have celebrated the fact that I have dual British and Irish nationality and I would have loved you to be able to have witnessed the moment I got it. I have always believed, like you, that celebrating cultures is important.
You were proud of all my achievements, and taught me to not feel bad about the things I couldn’t do but were proud of me for trying.
You embraced my passion for Spain and Spanish and congratulated me on learning a language that was new to the family. You celebrated my finishing every school day and year, knowing what a physical challenge that was.
You knew I would make it to university and encouraged me when, due to to my own love of other countries, I left England to study in Wales.
When my year there did not turn into more, you supported me during my Geography degree studies at the University of Reading. I remember fondly the talks we had about the architects you had met through work and who I was learning about as part of that.
You always encouraged me to enjoy what I loved in life, in my free time as well as when I was studying.
Little did I know that 2003 would be the last time I would see you. In previous years, your health had had some huge challenges. I talked to you, wanting to help you see that needing support or mobility aids was not bad or something to be ashamed of. You faced those years with strength and a positive attitude.
When you passed away, I was devastated. In my final year of university, I found it hard to concentrate and my support workers and teachers understood. I wasn’t sure I’d graduate, if I had the emotional strength, but I thought of you and kept fighting.
I spent time with our family and moved back home for the rest of my final year. I finished that year and graduated. Words cannot describe how much I missed you at my ceremony. I felt that you were there and that you were proud of me.
I would have loved you to have met my husband and to have been at our wedding. If you were alive today, things would have been difficult and strange because of the Pandemic and restrictions would have made it harder for me to see you as much as I would have liked.
If the Pandemic had not have happened, and you were still alive, I would have loved to celebrate today with you, with the biggest cake imaginable and all your favourite food and people.
This tribute is for you and I’ll never forget you.