As I said before, there is so much to say. I think it would be overly ambitious to try to put it all in ‘one final post,’ as Wendy put it. I think that Wendy’s story isn’t over yet, so you may have to put up with a few posts from me. And besides, as soon as I hit the ‘publish’ button I will think of something else.
I feel quite dazed. This journey began back in January, and sadly became more and more difficult. Towards the end, Wendy had become progressively more dependent upon us. We had little time to ‘stop and think.’ When Wendy finally went to sleep in the early hours of yesterday morning, my feelings were so mixed. I was relieved that her suffering was finally at an end. But someone like Wendy leaves a huge void.
Wendy fitted that classic description of someone who could ‘light up a room.’ She was vivacious, enthusiastic, funny and passionate. She had an enormous heart and gave of herself endlessly. I feel truly privileged to have spent fourteen amazing years by her side. They have been fourteen years filled with love, joy and fun. What has been wonderful about the blog is the way in which some of her personality transferred onto the pages. You get a real feel for the kind of lady she was, and as a result, you have taken her to your hearts even if you didn’t know her.
I have read and received so many tributes to Wendy via these pages, Facebook and in person. So many that I just haven’t any chance to respond to them all individually. Please know that I read them all with pride and gratitude and your words move me.
I have also been moved by the way in which she has been treated by nurses. I understand now what kind of a special person it takes to be a nurse. During the last days she was tended by nurses in Ward 10 at Stoke Mandeville who have left me in awe of the way they could look after so many patients, and yet still smile and tend to my wife’s needs patiently. They pulled out all of the stops to get Wendy home when it became clear that nothing else could be done medically. Wendy’s wish was to spend her last days at home and they made it happen for her.
We discovered a wonderful charity called Rennie Grove Hospice Care (formerly Ian Rennie) who supply nurses to help with end of life care. I cannot tell you how many times they were there for us when we needed them. In Wendy’s last hours she was tended by Ian Rennie nurses with such tenderness and respect and I am so grateful to them.
Wendy also had some true, special friends (you know who you are) who have been there for us in the difficult days. Whether to just come and sit with her, or run an errand or help in so many ways, you proved your true friendship to Wendy.
She had the good fortune to be employed by a really special company. BHS have helped and supported us as a family in so many ways that they didn’t have to do. They stood by her and repayed the loyalty that she showed them in ways that are truly remarkable. These included buying her a special bed and offering to pay for carers to stay at our home. They also made it possible for her to attend the company conference, and senior people have visited Wendy at home and in hospital. Finally, they fully backed and funded the Bostin Bums calendar (I do hope that you have one).
While I feel a deep sadness right now, I also feel tremendous gratitude. Wendy and I packed a lifetime into fourteen years. She truly was a wonderful wife, and I have also lost my best friend. The years that we spent together I will never forget, and the love I have for her still burns inside me. I have been blessed.
Many of you have asked about Wendy’s funeral arrangements. I know that so many of you would like to come and pay your final respects, and you will be very welcome. Fortunately, we talked about this and Wendy wrote down her wishes for me.
Wendy’s funeral will take place at All Saints Church, High Wycombe at 3pm on Wednesday the 9th of December, followed by a committal at the Chilterns Crematorium in Amersham. As this is quite late in the day, we are planning to offer people refreshments before the service instead of afterwards. This will allow people with long journeys to arrive relaxed and refreshed (we will provide more details of this in due course). She has also chosen her favourite hymns, so please arrive in good voice! Finally she has stipulated NO flowers apart from the single arrangement that she has requested and we have ordered for her. She would love it if instead you donated the money you would have spent to her two charities: Beating Bowel Cancer and Rennie Grove Hospice Care. You can do so via the links on the blog, or hand your donations to the funeral directors on the day.
Wendy is also survived by her mum Judith, and two children Richard and Rebecca. They have all shown incredible dignity and strength throughout this journey. I am very fortunate to have gained these people in my family through Wendy. They all need your love and support too. We will stick together, and I will continue to regard them as part of my family forever.
A few days ago, Wendy said to me ‘I’ve lived a lifetime with you.’ I feel the same way. I have so many precious moments to look back on. We were lucky, we learned the importance of picking daisies when we had the opportunity. If you have an ambition, don’t put it off – do it soon. None of us know what is around the next corner, so don’t wait until it’s too late. Whether that’s swimming with dolphins or riding a motorbike naked in the sun. We picked our daisies and you must too.