Trees of Love: Marie’s story
Marie Dowling attended Trees of Love for the first time last year in memory of her husband, Steve, who was cared for at Pilgrims Hospice Ashford in 2017. Here, she shares how coming together with others helps the family to remember Steve in a very fitting way.
My husband Steve had a varied career, but his real passion lay in all things mechanical. After he retired in 2012, Steve offered his technical skills free of charge to the elderly and partially sighted people; nothing was too much trouble and his patience was endless.
Steve was a devoted family man to myself and our son, Matthew, and his loyalty to his family and friends was without limit. He could fix just about anything and was always there when things went wrong. He truly was one in a million!
When Steve was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2017, it came as a complete shock to us. Steve had always been a really fit person and, with our son happily settled at university, we had just started to enjoy our freedom to travel. A keen motorcyclist, Steve had also just finished putting together a sidecar outfit and trips to Europe in it had already been planned and booked.
Nothing was too much trouble for the staff and volunteers, even to the extent that food and drinks would be brought to us in Steve’s room so that our son, our long-time family friend and I could be with him for as long as we, and he, wanted.
We were both in a state of shock and didn’t know what had hit us, or what to expect, but fortunately Steve’s GP had referred him to Pilgrims Hospices. After his initial assessment there we both decided that, when the time came, that’s where Steve wanted to end his days.
Unfortunately Steve’s cancer progressed very rapidly, requiring two stays in hospital where the hospice staff kept in touch with him. After Steve came home for a few days his symptoms became very difficult to control. It was, therefore, with great relief that the decision was made for him to go into the Ashford hospice. I will never forget the look of relief on Steve’s face when he got there. He finally felt safe, and from then on until his death a week later he was looked after with dignity, compassion and care. Nothing was too much trouble for the staff and volunteers, even to the extent that food and drinks would be brought to us in Steve’s room so that our son, our long-time family friend and I could be with him for as long as we, and he, wanted.
After Steve’s death we wanted to do something to repay the hospice for their care of Steve. That’s when we found out about the Trees of Love services. We did wonder if it would be too painful to go back to the place where Steve had died and considered just giving a donation. However, we did go and I’m very glad we did. The sight of the trees decorated with all the doves and dedications was magical, and the service itself was very moving and appropriate for all those who had lost loved ones. Despite the still painful memories, we will definitely be going again this year.
Trees of Love outdoor services will take place at our hospices in Ashford, Canterbury and Thanet at 5pm on Saturday 8 December 2018.
We also offer indoor services with seating across our east Kent community:
- St Nicholas Church, New Romney, 5pm on Saturday 1 December
- All Souls Church, Cheriton, Folkestone, 5pm on Sunday 2 December
- Assembly Rooms, New Romney, 3pm on Saturday 8 December
- St Peter and St Paul Church, River, Dover, 4pm on Sunday 9 December
- Barham Crematorium, Barham, 4.30pm on Friday 14 December
- Charing Crematorium, Charing, 4.30pm on Friday 14 December
To dedicate a dove in memory of a loved one please visit pilgrimshospices.org/treesoflove or contact Sophie or Sara:
- Telephone: 01227 782 066