Four weeks ago my mother rang me early one morning to say that the ambulance had come to take her to hospital. She died three weeks later. It was a great shock to all of the family as we had no idea she was ill apart from the increasing pain she was feeling in her spine. We understood this to be from degeneration of the spine, which is not normally a terminal illness. As test results were revealed over the next few days, the family gathered in Auckland - her three children (my brother Mark flying home from England), her grandchildren and great-grandchildren(from all over New Zealand). We all spent as much time as we could in hospital with mum and in my sister's home with dad, supporting and comforting mum, dad and each other. The strength of the family gathering and just hanging out like that was amazing. We went through the acknowledged grief cycle together over that time: denial, anger, depression and finally, acceptance. She didn't live long enough to leave Auckland hospital for hospice care and the staff in her ward were very good to us all, making it very easy to stay with mum as long as we wanted to each day and, especially, all of her last night.
The funeral was a chance to say goodbye and to pay tribute to our lovely, patient, kind, thoughtful, clever mum (I learnt my sewing skills from her). We played a series of photos of her, all I could collect together from various sources, at the service:
And after the funeral, my 4 year old grand-daughter Jessica borrowed Terry's camera and took some great pictures at the wake: