This blog 'Three Fridays in March' captures my experiences on three consecutive Fridays which had a major impact on me. Let me start by advising that this blog covers the passing of my mum, and whilst I am not sharing intimate details, some may find that me blogging about my mum's death is not for them.
For me this blog is about me sharing the impact of what took place on three consecutive Fridays, celebrating the life my mum had, recognising the power of good friends and ensuring that going forward I follow my passion and make my 'What If' real.
Friday 9th March
At 3pm on Friday 9th March, my mum passed away peacefully in Strathcarron Hospicenear Denny. We cannot thank the staff and volunteers at the hospice enough. For the two weeks my mum was there, they did everything possible for her and us as a family. Until you have the need, it is difficult to really get your head around the compassion and care that they provide to those going through very difficult times.
That Friday I had my camera with me, as we had a lot of snow and I wanted to get outside and take some images of the hospice grounds. The images below were taken in what we now know, was the last hour of her life. We suspect that she waited for myself and my brothers to go away and get some rest, after what had been a tiring and emotional few days (We had been with her 24hrs a day for two full days at this point, and knew that we had said our farewells to her). Dad sat with her during this time, as they shared some final time together.
Within five minutes of me taking these pictures she had left us. As you might imagine these are images that I will treasure. Whilst sad about losing her, I know that she was at peace, and she would have wanted me to take some time out to help get my head around things and do something I am passionate about.
Friday 16th March
In the week that followed, I was busy making arrangements for the funeral and helping my dad deal with everything that needed doing. The funeral would be two weeks after she passed (The third Friday), and as such I would be able to travel to Rome with my wife and friends. This was a long planned trip to watch Scotland play Italy in the six nations. This decision to go was last minute, and one which my dad insisted we go on. Everything was planned and having spent the past two months traveling to and from hospital and the hospice, I was in need of a break. Normally I would not have gone, but I am fortunate to have a great group of friends who knew what I had been going through over the past few months. The images below are from the Friday we arrived in Rome, which was in contrast to how I had spent the Friday before. As we arrived in our room at the hotel it was exactly a week since my mum had passed, it felt strange being there in Rome, but also like she had somehow timed things to enable me to go on this trip.
Thankfully Scotland scraped a win against Italy (being totally honest it was hard to watch the Italians lose, they played so well and the crowd were amazing). The weekend provided a much needed break, and included taking some time out to reflect on the past few months and losing my mum.
Friday 23rd March
This was the day the I would say farewell to mum, whilst a tough day, it was one that would enable us as a family to celebrate her life. Mum had time to plan her funeral which included me sharing our experiences of her as a family. As the Friday before had been in contrast to the one before that, this was to be in contrast to that one in Rome.
Mum loved butterflies and I was able to help her design a gift for her grandchildren so they should remember her once she was gone. It included the poem below along with pictures of her and each of them.
From the design for the poem I was able to adapt for the order of service, and I am so pleased to have been able to do this one last thing for her.
During the planning for the day, dad had asked if there was any chance of the flowers being in the shape of a butterfly. What he thought was a silly suggestion turned out to be a fantastic one, which enabled him to give mum one final special gift.
In the last weeks of her life mum was struggling to use her iPad, but I did get one last messenger exchange from her. This is one which I will treasure for ever.
Finally, if there is one message I would like you to take from this post, it is this. No matter how tough things can seem, and no matter how difficult life is. Never underestimate the positive impact you can have on someone by doing the simplest deed.
The picture above along was taken 10 days before my mum passed away. She was lucky enough to have her hair done by a wonderful gent who visits the hospice each week. Such a small thing had a massive impact on her. When this was taken she was struggling with pain due to a large tumour on her left lung. The fact that she was able to smile and enjoy getting her hair done, is testament to the care and compassion shown by all in the hospice.
This is the last picture I got to take of my mum (she normally did not like getting her picture taken). That day she happily posed for me, and had a laugh with my dad and my brother that evening. I feel fortunate to have captured her cheeky smile.
I believe that capturing memories is so important, as is printing them and this will soon be in a frame on our wall. Thank you to all at Strathcarron for providing care and compassion to our mum, words cannot describe what she means to us, but I hope this blog and this picture show what happiness looks like.
Night Night Mum. xx