13th May 2024

    Remembering Tony: A lifetime of love, laughter, and sunflowers.

    An adoring father and grandfather, my husband Tony was such a wonderful man. We met just a few days after my 18th birthday and had the typical meeting outside of the school gates. From daydreaming and scribbling ‘Tony 4 Me’ and ‘I heart Tony’ all over my school books, we would then go on to spend a very happy 50 years together. Although I best believe that our wedding had to be arranged around the fishing season with Tony being such a mad fisherman.

    Tony’s illness was such an overwhelming and difficult time, but he fought it with such positivity, humour and determination. In the beginning, he did not want to entertain the idea of a hospice, but gradually he accepted the support that the hospice could give us both on his journey. Following an initial tour, his fears were allayed and he was comfortable attending either on his own or together. He took part in a couple of trials and it became the norm for us to discuss what would otherwise be a difficult topic. He fought to the very end though and because of the fantastic support, was able to stay at home until the last two days of his life. The nurses helped tremendously in making such a sad situation feel so normal and peaceful. The experience of his death was a beautiful one, where the love in his eyes shone through in his last minutes. It’s something I’ll never forget.

    Roman – Laura’s grandson

    Our obsession with sunflowers had always been a family joke. We both loved them, and Tony as a keen gardener, grew them in our garden and his allotment. We’d compete to see who could grow them the highest, and sometimes they were bigger than him! I have a total obsession with sunflowers, have ornaments, and even wore sunflower perfume. On any special occasion, we loved to give them out to our family and friends, as well as receive them. At his funeral, I laid a beautiful arrangement of sunflowers on his coffin.

    When I found out about the Sunflower Days, I couldn’t think of anything more fitting. I attended with my grandson, Roman, who had lived with us since he was three and adored his Gramps, and the day brought so much happiness. A friend met us and took Roman to go and see his Gramps’ dedicated sunflower. It was a really emotional moment when he found Gramps’ special flower, we both cried, but they were happy tears. The gardens looked beautiful and it was a day of joy and happy memories.

    However much I miss him, and always will, Tony’s passing was something I was so frightened of. But somehow, in the hospice, everything was so peaceful, and the staff were so kind and understanding. I will always be grateful. I hope to take part in Sunflower Memories, and attend the Sunflower Days for many years to come.

    Join us this July to dedicate a sunflower in a loved one’s memory, and celebrate their life in the hospice gardens at our Sunflower Days.

    This year, our Sunflower Days will take place on Saturday, July 20, from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. in our hospice gardens. We invite you to share your memories, collect your sunflower marker, and celebrate the life of your loved one, all while supporting the outstanding care Pilgrims delivers to local families, inside and outside the hospice walls.

    More information on how to dedicate a sunflower can be found here.

    Pilgrims Hospices is a registered charity providing specialist palliative care to individuals with life-limiting illnesses across East Kent. With a dedicated team of staff and volunteers, Pilgrims Hospices is committed to delivering compassionate care and support to patients and their families, ensuring dignity, comfort, and quality of life.

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