Coach Deno loses his Grandma Mini

Jo shares how her son, Dennis (known as Coach Deno) has coped with losing his beloved Grandma Mini


Jo tells us, "Coach Deno is yet to come to terms with his grandma passing away on the 19th July 2021, he still thinks she is home either sleeping, in the toilet, cleaning or cooking. It was the early hours of Sunday morning when the phone rang. I called out, "Coach come down, hurry". He came along with his brother Jack, he looked at the WhatsApp screen, his grandma Mini‘s face was covered with the oxygen mask. Her eyes were blinking but she was not responding, her facial expression seems as if she was asking God to wait, pleading, so she would say her good bye but everything was blurred in front of her unconscious mind."


Coach saw and called out to her, ”Mini, Mini” then he went up to his room. He sensed that something was not right, therefore he quietly left my room and made his way up to his room listening and watching TV. My phone went dead as Mini had passed away.


He went off to watch a movie in the afternoon without mentioning Mini or anything thereafter. I and Jack joined in the Zoom funeral, back home in India, the weather was deadly accompanied with torrential rainfall. It was very difficult to get a clear view due to the WiFi connection which was weak in India due to weather.



It's been 5 months and every day he remembers his grandma. There was a very strong bond between Coach Deno and his grandma (my mom) since his birth. She arrived to see him when he was 2 weeks old and unable to breast feed he had lost quiet a lot of weight, I was experiencing a very high emotional depression and upset. As soon as my mom arrived she noticed that he was able to suck on the rubber nipple of the bottle which contained glucose water. She applied the glucose powder around my nipple and put him closer to my breast after several attempts he finally grabbed it. She saved his life and gave him the strength to overcome his milestones.


Prior to Pandemic and during pandemic coach would speak to his grandma to inquiry about her day activity and the preparing of the meal for the day. They used to chat for hours every day, every conversation would end in, "Where is Mini, what has she prepared for lunch today?" Any problem regarding food, he would talk to her on WhatsApp, thanks to the modern technology keeping families connected.


Showing her all the baking and lovely dishes he prepared, when I was at work. During the day he would call her to talk about his routine, his movie, about his football training and the naughty kids who were cheeky to him during the training. Even now he keeps repeating, “I ring Mini but she does not pick up the phone. I am not sure where she is.”


Mini was involved in Coach Deno 30 years of journey filled with tears, sweat and blood, always encouraging and proud of his achievement at school, college, playing football, his charity work at age 8 in India for AID hospice, first vulnerable adult to get trained and share the FXS article on Jamie Oliver ministry of food website, Children in Need cycling with Matt Baker, meeting Chris Hoy the Olympic cyclist, his first photo shoot for Bradford council magazine, gaining the FA Football coaching qualification, training and coaching in a local club, being interview for BBC Unsung Heroes and many more.


Dennis spent 14 years of his life with his grandma. She used to prepare mouth-watering, palatable dishes, talk to him, watch TV programmes and take him to church and outdoor shopping.

When he was 14 years of age he came to the UK and missed her a lot, every Sunday he spoke to his grandma on the landline. Without fail she would ring and mentioned when we would go and visit her, she always longed for everyone to be there for Christmas but I never made it home for Christmas with Dennis However Dennis was blessed to enjoy Christmas with his grandma and his uncle James for past 14 years while we were in India.


On Uncle Johnson birthday his uncle posted an old photo of Mini sitting in the living room with the cake front of her, he was so excited he came running down in the kitchen screaming his lungs out, showing me the photograph, “Mini is in the living room and cutting the cake, every one lied to me that she is sleeping in her room.”



This Christmas will be very emotional for everyone, especially Coach Deno. Not to see her around or speak to her to wish her, ”Merry Christmas, Happy New year” about her cooking for Christmas day, I wonder what his reaction will be when he visit the family home in India and not find her where he left her in 2017 when we visited India.