“When Alison from Rennie Grove came to the door I’ve never been so relieved to see anyone.” Rennie Grove’s nurses made Mary Jane’s final hours as comfortable as possible. Here her daughter, Rohan, explains what that meant to her Mum and the whole family.
“Mum – Mary Jane - was a wonderful woman who was brilliant at getting things done. At her funeral, her cousin described her as “can do with compassion” and that sums her up completely.
“She retired from a nursing career a couple of years ago and threw herself into charity work and singing in several choirs. She was super-organised and that came in really handy as I was getting married and she was incredibly helpful with my wedding plans.
“Around that time Mum started to feel unwell and tests showed there was a growth on her pancreas. She had the growth removed and although subsequent tests didn’t show cancer present she underwent around 6 months of chemotherapy to be on the safe side. She ended the chemo in February 2018.
“Mum dealt with things in a really low key and matter of fact way so it didn’t cross our minds that the cancer might return.
“She continued to feel unwell and after other symptoms started to develop and following a range of additional tests she received a terminal diagnosis.
“I don’t know whether it was her nursing experience that made her have such a positive outlook but when she broke the news it was her comforting me rather than the other way around.
“Her prognosis was 4-6 months but she got very poorly very quickly and one evening she was rushed to hospital in terrible pain. We were told that she had just a few days left and she was desperate to get home as that is where she wanted to die.
“The arrangements were made and a couple of days later she came home. We were so privileged that, as a family, we could care for her for her last two days. She was able to have visitors and remained so positive.
“However, on the morning of her death, she woke in a lot of pain and it was very difficult. That’s when Alison from Rennie Grove came to the door. I have never been so relieved to see anyone. She came in and got Mum comfortable, adjusting a syringe pump so that Mum could get the pain relief she needed. She also spoke to the GP to let him know what was happening.
“Alison spoke to Mum so beautifully and gave us some information that was incredibly useful in terms of what was going to happen as Mum began to leave us.
“She told us that it was likely that Mum would die that day which was so quickly but having someone like Alison who was calm, honest and frank with us was such a blessing.
“Alison stayed with us for two hours and we spoke about Mum and the amazing person she was.
“When the end came it was just like the information that Alison had given us described so I knew she was finally going. My brother Ben, sister Bryony and Mum’s lovely husband Steve were all there as she took her final breaths. She had a beautiful and calm, though heart-breaking, end.
“Just after Mum died, Clair from Rennie Grove came to the house and my sister and I said we wanted to wash and dress Mum as we had been doing over the previous days. Clair helped us do that, all the time talking to Mum with respect just as if she was still alive.
“I have such admiration for Rennie Grove’s nurses. It should have felt strange that there was someone else with us at such a private time but it was quite the opposite, Clair was so supportive that it felt right.
“Mum wanted to die at home in her own bed with a view overlooking the common – in her happy place - and that is what she did.
“We all miss her so much; she was brave, stoic and not frightened of dying. We feel so lucky that we had her in our lives – a wonderful Mum to my brother, sister and I and Steve’s fantastic and much loved wife.
“Thank you Alison for being with us and allowing us to show off about the brilliance of the woman who lay there – all she was and all she had achieved and how very much we loved her. You do such an amazing job.”