Once upon a time there lived a family: a Mummy called Pauline, a Daddy called Ian, and their 3 daughters Julie, Barbara and Sarah.
They were an ordinary but happy family who loved each other very much. Like all children the 3 girls had their moments; of play, laughter, fighting and crying. When they were sad because their friends at school were mean to them or because 1 felt left out when the other 2 decided to go off together to play, Mummy and Daddy were always there to comfort them. When there were things to enjoy together such as holidays (even many weeks of camping!) great memories were forged. When there was something to celebrate, the family knew how to do this in style. One by one the girls grew up and left the family nest: Julie got married, Barbara moved to London and Sarah went on her travels.
I am the oldest of the fledgelings and Dad was proud to hand over care of me to my husband Dave. It was a joyful day. As our children grew I looked forward to the time when we could re-form as an extended family, indeed Christmases were times when we did just that. I looked forwards to the days when Dad and I could do some of those special things together that Fathers and daughter have the potential to do together – rights of passage type things. Things tended to get in the way – his work, my work, holidays…….
Now its too late. Although its over 10 years since Dad died I still grieve for the many things we had planned or dreamed to do and never did: the skiing holiday in the Rockies that was cancelled because he became unwell, the plan to walk the Pennine Way together, just the 2 of us, the time he wasn’t able to spend with his beloved grandchildren as they grew up, the opportunity to make of myself into the highly respected professional that he was and to see the pride in his eyes.
But I thank God for those times that we did make the most of. For that last holiday in Wales that is still such a wonderful memory and for the times when we were able to talk about the big questions of life in that last year or two.
Those last few weeks of his life are a blur of anxiety, pain, unsaid words, anger at the relative lack of support given to my mother by the community and thankfulness that the hospital were able to step in and support us. This include putting us up on the ward as we nursed him together with the ward staff. This was an intimate and moving time. I was blown away by the unprompted arrival of my vicar (who travelled the 150 miles to be with us and pray with us) and the sensitivity of the nurses on the ward.
So where is all this leading?
Like most people who have experienced a time of trauma and loss, I have tried to make some sense of it all, asking questions such as why? what now?
The journey from there has been full of questing and inspiration. I have gained a diploma in palliative care, had the privilege of working with colleagues and partners to help improve services for patients and their families in my geography, joined the board of my local community hospice as a volunteer and become a Macmillan GP. Using the insights I have gained from our experiences as a family and for me as a professional has helped give me an energy that I can use for good for others.
Surely this is what being a doctor is all about?
The story continues. I guess blogging is replacing the old-fashioned diary keeping to some degree, and the privacy of course if published. In our increasingly fragmented communities it is a way of connecting and sharing. I hope that this evolves into something of use to some one some where…….
Do get in touch, Id love to hear from you.