Archive for the ‘stroke’ Category

Aunt MaeOn the 3rd of April 2013 at about 6.300am, one year ago today, we received the phone call we’d been expecting, but dreading, it was the hospital to tell us that my Aunt Mae had died just a few minutes earlier.

Well one year on, and I’m still finding it hard to cope with my Aunt Mae and my Dad not being with us anymore. It still seems unbelievable in many ways that in the space of just a few weeks last year Dad and then Aunt Mae died.

In many ways my grief for them took a back seat for a number of months as I tried to help my Mum cope with the lost of her husband and her sister. Mum is coping a little better these days, although just like me, she has her moments!

Bereavement affects us all at some point in our lives and we get through it in different ways; some seem to cope as if nothing has happened, others struggle to cope; some find it easy to talk about their loss, others prefer the quietness and reassurance of their own memories. However we cope when someone we love passes away, we are grieving and it’s important to give ourselves time to grieve and not expect life just to carry on as normal for as, as our lives will never be the same again after a loved one dies.

So today, I remember my Aunt Mae, Mary Waddell Gilchrist (23/10/1922 – 3/4/2013) who passed away one year ago today,  and my Dad, both of whom I miss so very much, you’re both never far from my mind and I will always love you both.

 

Aunt Mae (Aug 2011)Today, the 23rd October, is another sad day for us, as today would have been my Aunt Mae’s 91st birthday.

It’s now just over 6 months since my Aunt Mae passed away, but just typing these words have started my tears flowing again. In many ways it seems like just yesterday Aunt Mae passed away, just 6 weeks after my Dad died. However in many other ways it seems like an eternity since both Aunt Mae and Dad were here with us.

I have thought of my Aunt Mae every day since she died.

I have shed many tears every day since Aunt Mae died.

I have missed my Aunt Mae every day since she died.

As Aunt Mae’s dementia worsened, she, just like my Dad, failed to recognised us or acknowledge that she knew us and latterly her personality completely changed, as she went from being a loving caring person to someone who was angry and aggressive…that just wasn’t my Aunt Mae. Having said that, during her final few days in the hospital, she did seem to have a the odd moment of clarity, as at one point when Mum apparently told her I was on my way in to see her she smiled and tried to say my name…

I am in no way saying there was no bond between Aunt Mae and the rest of my family, but I know there was always a special place in her heart for me, after all I was named after her as Mum and Dad gave me her name as my middle name, Mary.

These have been incredibly difficult months for my family, and my Mum in particular – Mum’s struggled to come to terms with the death of first my Dad and then Aunt Mae, but she’s getting there, as am I. I would however ask that today, as we remember my Aunt Mae in particular, on what would have been her birthday, that you continue to pray for us as we continue to grieve the death of two much-loved members of our family, my Aunt Mae and my Dad.

I love you Aunt Mae, and I miss you so much. You’ll always be in my thoughts and firmly in my heart. Dorothy xxx

As you may be aware, over the last few months, I’ve published a number of blog posts entitled “Managing Grief” and in them have given a number of practical suggestion on things which may help you following a bereavement. What you may not however be aware of, is that just over a week before I posted my first “Managing Grief” blog post, my Dad had just passed away, and that just 6 weeks after Dad’s passing, my aunt (my Mum’s one remaining sister) also passed away. I have therefore felt that shared my very real experiences of managing grief, may in some small way help someone else cope with their grief a little bit better.

Last week I was out for dinner with my Mum and, as is often the case, the conversation got onto Dad and Aunt Mae, and about how difficult Mum was finding it to cope on a daily basis. At one point Mum said to me, “You seem to be dealing with it ok”, and I just responded by saying that I had my moments!

cryingMoments! A little bit of an understatement by me, as while I may look as if I’m coping well with Dad and Aunt Mae’s dead, inwardly I’m a bit of a wreck! I’ve been putting on a “brave face” with Mum ever since we were originally told they could do no more for Dad, as I knew she needed me to be strong for her. That hasn’t meant I’m strong all the time, as I definitely have my moments, normally when in the privacy of my own home…

However I certainly wasn’t in any kind of private place yesterday when thinking of Dad and Aunt Mae, my emotions got the better of me. I was in fact sitting in the middle of our band (Bellshill Salvation Army Band), in the middle of our morning service, when events and the music conspired to get the better of me!

Before I’d left the house to go the morning service I’d been reading this week’s Salvationist (a SA weekly publication), and had discovered the tribute (including photo) of my Aunt Mae was in this week’s edition…well that got me emotional before I even left the house!

During our service we sang Lord I Come To You (The Power of Your Love), which has been a very special song to me for a number of years. As I tried to sing, I just thought about those I’d lost, and so I could sing no more because of my tears…My worst nightmare had happened, falling apart in public!

It didn’t get any better as the band piece was In The Love Of Jesus, which always reminds me of my Aunt Mae (and my Gran), so again I found my tears started…I think I only managed to play the first few bars of the music before I had to stop again.

Everyone who loses a loved one has particular things which remind them most about them. You may have guessed by now, that for me, that thing is music! As a family, music has always been a huge pat of our lives and thus so much music reminds me of those I’ve lost. I also find playing in the band very difficult too (not because I don’t want to play), as I play trombone…so did Dad, and he was always the one I turned to for advice on alternative slide positions etc. I remember from a very young age, climbing up on the huge piano stool beside my Dad, to “help” him with his music compositions; I also remember as a young junior soldier, in the days when I sang solos, gathering round the piano at Gran and Aunt Mae’s to be taught my latest solo.

So why am I telling you all this? It was the 21st of February Dad died and the 3rd April my Aunt Mae passed away, i.e. a few months ago, but I still miss them loads, particularly my Dad…and that ok! God knows we’re hurting, and knows it will take us time to grieve. Likewise our friends and other family members also don’t expect us to get over the loss of a loved one in week or two. Therefore, don’t be afraid to admit to yourself and to others that you are still finding it difficult coping with the death of your loved one, months or even years later!

Finally I’d just like to say a huge thanks to those at Bellshill Salvation Army who have been particularly supportive in these last few weeks and months (you know who you are), I have appreciated your support more than you can imagine, thank you.

As the title of this post suggests, it’s been another difficult few days for me.

It all started on Thursday with my Mum going into hospital for an exploratory procedure. But I’m pleased to say, all turned out to be fine, with no problems found.

Then on Thursday night I went to my first band practice for a while, at Bellshill Salvation Army. I was quite stressed about going back to the band, not because I thought the folks there wouldn’t welcome me back or be supportive, but simply because I am still struggling emotionally following the death of my Dad and my Aunt Mae earlier this year.

Dad at our weddingMusic has always been a huge part of my life, with music always been played in the house from as early as I can remember. Dad was always composing and arranging music (or “decomposing” music as he used to say!), and sitting at the piano trying out various bits and pieces of his compositions. I remember even when I was very young, I always climbed up onto my Dad’s knee at the piano to “help” him. So much so that when I was 6 I started piano lessons, despite the piano teacher not normally taking pupils until they were at least 7, but as I was extra keen an exception was made.

Then a few years later I was given a trombone by our YP band leader (at Rutherglen Salvation Army), and after being shown how to hold it and blow into and the 7 slide positions, I was off and running with my trombone. Needless to say I had a lot of questions, and Dad was there to help from that day on until his dementia meant he was unable to, as he was a trombone player of well renown in the jazz and big band scene in the west of Scotland.

So taking all that into account, band practices, and trombone playing as such a huge reminder of me of my Dad, as he was always there to help when I was looking to some alternative slide positions for some bit of music, or helping choosing a new mouthpiece etc…

I coped not to badly at the band practice until we went to practice Guardian of My Soul, and the words of the last section of this were read out…

O Jesus I have promised
To serve thee to the end…

Aunt MaeThese words, although not necessarily favourite words of my Aunt Mae, they were words which reminded me so much of her, as she was a lifelong Salvationist, and even in her final days when her dementia meant she wasn’t the person we knew and loved, she still always talked about the Army and how she’d held various positions for many years – even the nurses and carers at her nursing home talked about how she was always telling them about the Salvation Army!. She truly did serve God, her Saviour, all her days.

So when we started to play that piece of music, my emotions got the better of me and my tears streamed down my face…I was just glad everyone was playing as I really didn’t want anyone to notice how upset I was. Crying in public is one of my worst nightmares, and it was no different that night!

So onto today, Sunday, my first meeting at Bellshill for a while, and again I was stressed, as I knew the band were playing Guardian of My Soul and I knew how that had affected me on Thursday, and there would be even more folk there to witness me getting upset, if it were to happen again…

musicYes, the music got to me again, as Guardian of My Soul got my tears flowing again, however this time I just tried to play through it (not sure how successful that decision was though!).

But even before we got to the band piece, my tears had started, as the YP Band played I’m In His Hands, and the words associated with this song, touched me just as they do every time I hear them, but they were the reminder I needed that whatever the future holds, I am in His hands.

Even one of the congregational songs from this morning got me, as it reminded me of the band’s Easter Tour of 2003, as just after we returned from this tour I took unwell, and although I’m much improved now, my health continues to cause me some problems. Before we left for our tour we joined in singing, Lord If Your Presence , and again this morning as we sang these words in the knowledge that for the next 9 months, Bellshill Salvation Army will be without a home of their own, as we will be worshipping in the Bellshill Cultural Centre while our halls are refurbished and a new worship hall built.

Even as we played the final march in our hall, Celebration, I was reminded of Dad again as I remember asking him about one of the parts in this piece when I was playing a different part than I was today.

Many thanks to all who offered words of support to me both on Thursday night at band practice and also this morning either before or after our morning service, I really have appreciated the love and support shown to me (and my family) during what has been a particularly difficult time for us.

In conclusion, I’d just like to share with you the words of the song I mentioned earlier

I’m in his hands, I’m in His hands;
Whate’er the future holds
I’m in His hands.
The days I cannot see
Have all been planned for me;
His way is best, you see;
I’m in His hands

 

Have you ever wondered how your life would have turned out and how you would have coped with life , if you hadn’t accepted Christ as your saviour?

I have, particularly in these last few weeks as we’ve had to cope with the death of first my Dad and then my Aunt Mae.faith

Just after my Dad passed away, someone said to me that, “There are only two certainties on life, one that you have been born, and secondly, that you will die” – Despite this, we all find the death of a loved one very upsetting and difficult to cope with.

It’s therefore no surprise to me that during these difficult and stressful weeks, I’ve relied heavily on God to keep me strong for my Mum and focused enough make all the required arrangements etc. So much so, I actually feel as if I’ve been running on auto-pilot for weeks now, as every day seems to have been a bit of a blur and I’m not sure I can actually tell you what I did on any particular day since the middle of February!

That said, I’m not sure I would have been able to get through these weeks if God hadn’t been there with me, as there were times when I honestly felt I couldn’t cope with any more problems, but as you can tell, I got through those days, and that I simply put down to the fact that my faith reassured me that God is with me at all times, and is helping me when my own strength has gone.

Today I thank God for my faith. Without Him, these last few weeks would have been even harder to face than they were.

It’s been another sad day today, as just 5 weeks after saying our final farewells to my Dad, we said a final farewell to my Aunt Mae, Mary Waddell Gilchrist (23/10/1922 – 03/04/2013).

Aunt Mae (Aug 2011)

My intention again today, just at it had been on the day of my Dad’s funeral (see the blog post Farewell), was to write a tribute to my Aunt Mae, but I’m afraid again it’s just too soon for me to be able to write anything that would do her justice. At some point in the coming weeks I hope to write tributes to both Dad and Aunt Mae, but for today I simply want to say thank you.

Thank you to so many of you who have offered words of comfort and solace to me, Mum and Sandy over these last few weeks as first we lost my Dad, and then my Aunt Mae. I really can’t express strongly enough just how much your support in person, by phone and/or card, has meant to us all.

To those of you who have helped us get everything sorted out for today, I’d like to say a huge thank you to you.

To the many of you who shared with us today at Rutherglen Salvation Army for the service of thanksgiving, then at Rutherglen cemetery, and then afterwards back at Rutherglen Salvation Army for refreshments, thank you for taking the time to support us on this most difficult of days, as I’m sure it was very much appreciated by all my family. I’m sure my Aunt Mae would have been embarrassed by all that has been said about her today, but as far as I’m concerned, it simply shows the huge impact and influence Aunt Mae had on the many people she met during her lifetime.

I’ll miss you Aunt Mae, and just as I said about my Dad a few weeks ago, I will never ever forget you.

Rest in peace Aunt Mae xxx