Little did I realise what fate had in store for me.
Mid-December my dad fell down stairs at home and we had our first visit to Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh’s Accident & Emergency department. Dad had cracked his pelvis and a bone in his spine. That was him in hospital for a month. Meanwhile mum had a problem: a sore hip was getting worse and she soon became housebound. I learnt some serious juggling and timetabling with my brother as we shared the visiting of dad and care of mum. (She was determined to stay in her house). I even managed to get some work done – not a lot but some. My dad spent his 80th birthday, Christmas day and New Year’s Day in the Royal with us all sitting round his bed.
By New Year’s Day I was finding it hard to be usual optimistic positive self. We hosted a family afternoon at our home and while it was lovely we missed dad being with us. On the morning of 5th January Ian and I had decided we were spending the day working on our Ball project plan. We had diaried it, laid out all the files and were ready to get started. As we were sitting having our cup of tea, I heard on the radio news that there had been an incident on the Lanark Road in Edinburgh and it was closed – I remarked to Ian that it must be bad. It’s five minutes from our house.
I don’t remember clearly now but we maybe started the work when the call came that my stepson had been involved in an accident and was on his way to the Royal Infirmary. Half an hour later, after picking up his mum, we arrived at the hospital to the unimaginable news that he hadn’t made it. My 43-year-old stepson had been killed in the incident. He was cycling to work – something he did twice a week to keep fit and because he simply adored cycling. Andrew was at his happiest mountain or road cycling.
Even although the next couple of weeks were busy with organising his funeral and sorting out other administration it still seems as though we hit the pause button on our life. Maybe it was a way to protect ourselves, I don’t know. I do know that hitting the play button again hasn’t been easy.
We simply have to make sure that Andrew’s death is not in vain so we are in the process of setting up a charitable trust and plan to work with others to make cycling safer.
Meantime my dad had come home from hospital but has a long recovery ahead of him. And within days of his return home my mum’s hip pain was finally diagnosed as a broken hip! She went into hospital two weeks ago and is still there and likely to be for a few more weeks. It is good though to see them on the road to recovery.
Those plans I originally had in mind for 2012 are a little different. We are absolutely determined to make my beloved It’s Good 2 Give as good a charity as it can be: we have great ambitions despite that we are staffed only by volunteers!
We also plan to devote some time to our new ‘charity to be’ and safer cycling campaign.
More than ever we appreciate the need to be as fit as we can be and although in the days after the accident I wanted to sell my bike, friends persuaded me that wasn’t the way to honour a lost loved one – and they are right. So I will conquer my fear of cycling on the road, get some professional training and get back on that bike in the spring.
I will cycle the Pedal for Scotland bike ride in September for It’s Good 2 Give – we plan to have a 50-100 strong cyclist team under the banner Pedal for Paul in memory of 17-year-old Paul Davies who lost his fight with cancer 2 years ago. Andrew had just agreed on New Year’s Day to cycle it with me. Instead, his friends are going to cycle in memory of him and for our charity-to-be, Andrew Cyclist.
Physical challenges are popular this year for us. We have secured 3 dragon boats in the Leith Dragon Boat Race on 23 June – teams of 20 fill each boat and there are prizes for best fundraising boat, best dressed and fastest. It’s Good 2 Give has 2 boats and already I have filled one boat with team members. Andrew Cyclist has one boat and again Andrew’s friends and colleagues are stepping up to the plate and filling this boat with a great crew. Indeed, It’s Good 2 Give will have some serious competition from Andrew Cyclist team!
I am not quite up to running again yet but am a lot fitter than I was this time last year – there have been a few days this year when I longed to be fit enough to run. To get outside, feel the fresh air on my face and just run the cares away.
Our three major events of the year are our inaugural Ball on 3 March (sold out) and our Blingo event in May (sold out) and just agreed the date this week our annual Fashion Show on 4 November (we sold out last year and aim for the same this year).
The past two months have reminded me how much I love my family and how important it is to tell them so. My brother told me he loved me – something he hadn’t said to me possibly ever! (I knew it and he knew it but we had never said it.) Juggling care of loved ones in hospital and at home has given me renewed respect for parents doing that for months on end when their child is undergoing treatment for cancer. How they manage is almost beyond my understanding and I will continue to find ways to support them in every way I can. The most important thing I have learnt though in the past two months is that it is definitely worth doing a kindness for others no matter how small.
I know the benefits first hand now.
From friends leaving pots of soup on our doorstep to flowers being delivered in vases (so that I didn’t have to find a vase for them), to being driven about and having our shopping done for us. My dearest friend cooked us food for the family get-togethers and indeed for the 40 guests we had back to our house after the funeral. I didn’t need to cook for two weeks and I appreciated it almost beyond measure.
First and foremost then 2012 will be the year of kindness for me, and my charity.
I thank you and all 3rdi readers for support over the past year and hope you will continue to support our tiny but ambitious charity in 2012.