Body of holiday death Belfast woman brought home on wedding anniversary
The body of a 77-year-old Glengormley woman who died suddenly while on holiday with her husband in the Canaries has been brought home on what would have been the couple's 55th wedding anniversary.
Mother-of three and grandmother-of-eight Elizabeth 'Betty' McGreevy suffered a heart attack by the pool on the first morning of her holiday with devoted husband Brian (79) and another couple in Playa de las Americas, Tenerife, last week.
Son Michael (52), who flew out with brother Stephen (53) to comfort their grieving father, revealed that Betty had been feeling unwell the evening before.
"My mum had suffered a previous heart attack and five years ago she underwent a quadruple bypass," he told the Belfast Telegraph.
"My dad had cancer last year but had got over it, and they had been told to go away and take it easy, which they were doing.
"On the night they arrived mum didn't feel great.
"She went to bed but got up the next morning and insisted on going down to breakfast with dad.
"Then she didn't want any breakfast, so she went to sit outside and my father noticed she seemed to be slowing down - something wasn't right.
"The first aiders and life guards worked on her and did CPR, then they brought her to a private hospital, but unfortunately she passed away.
"It was six days before their 55th wedding anniversary."
Michael said that his father and mother were "devoted" to each other, but that instead of spending their emerald wedding anniversary in the sun, he was left to bring home her body.
"She was the light of dad's life," he explained.
"They were childhood sweethearts who met at the age of around 16 and married in 1962.
"My mum died on Wednesday, October 18, and we flew out to help my dad with the Spanish bureaucracy.
"We had to go to a funeral director, then a judge, which took a few days, and everything closed down for the weekend, so she ended up coming home on the day of their wedding anniversary, Tuesday, October 24.
"My brother and I couldn't get out on the Wednesday and we couldn't get a direct flight, so we flew to Scotland and from there to Tenerife.
"Sadly, we didn't get the chance to say goodbye.
"The holiday was meant to be a well-earned break in the sunshine.
"The hotel they were staying in is very popular with people from Northern Ireland, the Republic and England and they have been there many times, so they have made friends over the years.
"My parents are very sprightly for their ages and they loved to travel."
Michael says that his mother was "very bubbly and light-hearted", and was a familiar face in the Glengormley area, having worked part-time at Tesco's Northcott, formerly Stewarts, for 40 years before retiring at the age of 70.
"She was very well-known - people always used to come up to her and say they remembered her from working there," Michael added.
"She was a very sociable person.
"Even after she retired she used to go out for meals with her friends and former colleagues - they called themselves 'The Fifties Club'.
"Mum was also a parishioner at St Mary on the Hill, and she never missed church, even if she was on holidays.
"She loved the company of friends and family, and she was a real organiser who loved life.
"She loved her family and was very proud of her eight grandchildren.
"My younger brother Kieran (48) has come home from Canada, and a lot of people are travelling home to attend her funeral.
"I would like her to be remembered as someone who lived life to the full, and for her funeral service to be a celebration of her life."
The Requiem Mass for Mrs McGreevy will take place on Monday at 10am at St Bernard's Church on the Antrim Road, with interment afterwards at Carnmoney Cemetery.
She is survived by Brian, Stephen, Michael and Kieran, her daughters-in-law and grandchildren.