Co Down woman leaves legacy of love, laughter and life
Bernadette Grant had a smile that could light up a room.
Everyone who met her would say she made them feel better about themselves, happier having experienced her warmth and joviality.
Born in 1951 to Paddy and Alice McDermott in Banbridge, she was a sister to Eddie, Marie, Anne, Charlie and Patricia.
She enjoyed a happy childhood and was proud to recall with a twinkle in her eye some of the mischief she got up to and her time spent working in 'Tony's'.
Bernadette attended the Sacred Heart grammar school in Newry and went on to become a civil servant in Belfast.
But then she met Barney Grant and at the age of 17 he took her to a muddy field in the townland of Leode near Hilltown - her wearing a mini skirt and white knee high boots - and promised to build her a house there.
He duly did, and they had four children - Maria, Bernarde, Tom and Damian to whom she devoted her entire life.
Everyone was told about her children and her love knew no ends - that was, until her seven grandchildren began to arrive and suddenly she had even more stories to tell.
Bernadette was at her most happy when she was peeling potatoes or preparing vegetables looking out at the Mourne Mountains, ready to share a meal with family or friends.
She loved all literature and could quote freely from both Lord Byron and Mrs Brown's Boys. She travelled all over to watch plays, both professional and amateur, and particularly enjoyed the Lislea festival.
Lough Derg was her special place to revitalise her faith and she did the three-day pilgrimage 16 times and the one-day trip too often to count.
But faith to Bernadette was not something just for church - she put it into action.
Many families benefited from her acts of kindness and her home became a second office for people who had received bad news and needed a hand filling in forms or applying for grants.
All of this was done in the strictest confidence and everyone remarked on her sharp mind and brilliant brain.
At the age of 43 Bernadette returned to the world of work, taking up employment in the DHSS. She was a people person and thoroughly enjoyed the craic and camaraderie of her colleagues.
When she received news of her illness in January she never complained, never expected betterment, but instead set about making things as easy for her beloved family as she could.
All arrangements were put in place including a surprise reading at her funeral of a poem written for her on mother's day by her eldest granddaughter Lizzie.
Her outstanding inspirational faith came into play when she announced we were to "open our arms and let her go to God" as she would "always be with us in our hearts".
The world is a duller quieter place without Bernadette, but her suffering is over and her legacy of love, laughter and life remain.
Her month's mind Mass takes place tomorrow at 9am at St John the Baptist Church, Ballygorian.