My “Anam Cara ''
My Story, April 2006.
Jenny was born in Dundee Scotland November 25th 1935 and a short 9 months later and half a mile away I also entered the world, little did I know then how much our lives would intertwine
And impact on each other. At the age of 5 our mothers would take us out on Saturday night to a weekend social club, it was the war time years and a time for being together, I can’t say I
Really knew Jenny then but our lives were about to run a parallel course.
As the war intensified our family was evacuated further up the coast to a town named Stonehaven, Jenny went there also and after the war when we returned to Dundee we both ended up attending the same school as teenagers, although we shared the same teachers and friends we still did not know one another but that was about to change and our lives would become one life forever.
I was 18 years old and working as a male nurse in a respiratory hospital called Ashludie when I first laid eyes on Jenny, she was visiting her dad and he was one of my patients and as she approached the ward by herself I can still recall the red coat she was wearing and the white hankie wiping the tears away from her eyes, she had just got some bad news from the doctor and I could see she needed a little help. It was just a matter of time until we fell in love and we were barely out of our teen years when we got married on January 28th 1956.
We were inseparable Jenny was my wife my lover the mother of our children and a grandmother but most of all she was my best friend and stood by me for over 50 years. We came to Canada in 1973 and in 1994 and 1995 Jenny was admitted to hospital with breathing problems but was released after about a week on each occasion and remained out of hospital for 9 years. Jenny also had Sleep Apnea but had learned how to cope with it and it was in early February 2004 that things started to go wrong she fell and broke a shoulder and suffered intense bruising down her side and even though she made a recovery her health in general started to decline and by October she was admitted to hospital and then released one week later,
I thought things were going to be like they were in 1995 but this time it was different Jenny had to go into intensive care in a hospital ward 12 feet x 12 feet with no windows where she would remain for 12 weeks, 11 of them on a ventilator.
The circle was now almost complete only this time I was the one getting the bad news from the doctor and with tears in my eyes watching my wife become devastated as I had to tell an alert and otherwise healthy woman of her condition and the decision that she had to face. In my opinion Jenny made a brave and courageous decision to come off the ventilator though by the way she looked at me I know she would have remained on it if I had asked her that’s how unselfish she was. Two days earlier was our 49th wedding anniversary and we still had hope now everything was about to change and in one more day I would lose Jenny forever, Our lifespan was now complete and our relationship had began and ended in a respiratory hospital.
What I felt at first, total disbelieve, intense shock, struggling to find answers and a terrifying fear of being alone.
What helped the most being made aware of and introduced to a grief support group and learning how to try and cope with all the many adjustments in my life that now faced me as explained to our group by Dr Bill Webster. A very big help in the beginning was the fact that Jenny and I had prearranged our funeral services and I was able to carry out her last wishes right to the letter.
What I learned, most of all to know what is happening to me and to understand the reasons why I feel this way, to try and share these reasons with my children and grandchildren and to listen to them when they are having bad days and somehow between us try and talk our way through this very difficult time when we lose someone we love.
What I suggest, it is just over one year since Jenny died and I am not in any position to make suggestions to others as I am still struggling deeply with guilt, namely I keep thinking back
To the day Jenny fell and broke her shoulder and if I had only been at her side I may not be writing this today, yet on the other hand maybe nothing would have changed I will never know the answer to that question. What I can say helps me is to keep talking to other members in my support group and by going back to follow up meetings on a regular basis and staying in close touch with my Chaplain Karen Anne Fox and most of all Praying and keeping my Faith and knowing in my heart I will be with Jenny again.
Ian Williams, My Story 2007 Update.
More than a year has gone by now since I first wrote ‘’My Story’’ about Jenny and it is hard to believe that two years and nine months have also gone by since I lost her in January 2005.
So how am I feeling today? Well I can tell you I still miss her every single day of the week but I have also come to realize that the pain I am feeling can only be measured by the love we shared with one another and I would not trade that love for anything.
What have I been doing? I put together a one hour long slideshow dedicated to Jenny and added some of her favourite songs and some really treasured photos portraying her life from her teenage years and our life together right up to the most recent photos taken in 2004. I wanted to share this with family and friends in both Canada and the U.K. so I put it on DVD and gave out copies whenever I was visiting someone.
Creating the slideshow was very painful for me as music had been such a big part of our lives but it did help me to get a little more through my grief and now I can listen to music again something I could not do a year ago so I consider this to be a real positive in my journey through the grief process.
What else? I attended every grief meeting counselled by my friend Dr. Bill Webster for two and a half years and it was not because I was not beginning to cope with my new identity rather I felt a need within me to try and give something back to the groups some of what was passed on to me by other people who had shared similar losses and being able to do this in some small way also made me feel good about myself. I gradually began to move away from the main group but I do meet regularly with some friends for coffee and sometimes dinner and as long as they need me I will be there for them. Being able to help people has brought a new meaning into my life and I do spend some time trying to give support when needed.
So what now? Well I have rejoined my bowling league and having a lot of fun there bought myself a trailer near Fergus and it has become a little retreat for me and lets me still enjoy the outdoor life and get some exercise at the same time. In May this year (2007) after seeing a website designed by my friend Cindy for her dad I just knew this had to be my next project so after a little get started help I embarked on creating a Memorial site dedicated to Jenny and because Jenny loved to be called by that name and knowing how many friends she had made throughout her life I decided to call the website ‘’Our Jenny’’ a name that I know will always be remembered by family and friends alike.
The Future, I take one day at a time and look back on the past with regrets and wish things could be different and Jenny was still with me today as I miss her so much but I know I can not change the past and I never think too much about tomorrow because the sun will always rise, it is just sometimes we never see it so ‘’one day at a time’’ is how I try to live my life. If someone asks me how do I feel now compared to last year I would have to say things have softened for me, I expect to have good days and some not so good days and although I had an enormous loss it is important to remember the things I still have, I am learning to be patient with myself now and Jenny must be proud of me because she would often tell me ‘’just be patient’’ then she would recite this old saying to me,
‘’Patience is a virtue possess it if you can,
Seldom found in women but never in a man’’ you know something I think she may be right about that.
Finally, I would like to thank some people for encouraging me and giving me support and love through this very difficult time and helping to provide me with a new road map for the future, some are professional some are family but all are friends.
Rev. Karen Anne Fox.
Dr. Bill Webster’
Ian Williams My Story Update 2010.
It is now January 17, 2010 and as I approach the 5th anniversary of Jenny’s death I find myself reflecting on all the time that has gone by since that fateful day of January 31st 2005.
I have been looking for a poem that can best describe my feelings at this time so I can publish it in the local newspaper for the upcoming memorial tribute. I would like to share it with you.
I thought of you with love today
But that is nothing new
I thought about you yesterday
And days before that too,
I think of you in silence
I often speak your name
All I have are memories
And your picture in a frame,
Your memory is my keepsake
With which I’ll never part
God has you in his keeping
I have you in my heart.
People in my grief support group often ask me how does grief feel five years after you lose someone you love, does it get any easier? I always tell them the same thing as I have said before, I don’t believe we ever get over it but I do believe time makes it softer and allows us to go on with our lives in a positive way.
Finding ways to cope with the so called bad days that people go through from time to time for some unknown reason can be a big challenge for grieving people but there are ways to get through them, let me give you one example.
Jenny’s birthday in November is a time when our family and friends meet for dinner at what was one of Jenny’s favorite restaurants and we all get together to celebrate Jenny’s life and talk about some of the funny things we remembered about her.
Remembering our loved ones is important to us all and although we feel a little pain now and then it is all part of the healing process and I personally look back on our life together and can laugh at some of the many funny times we shared together
I am very fortunate in that I have a family who loves me and is always there for me when I need them, my friendship with Dr. Bill Webster my grief councilor has taken on a kind of reverse roll as I am now acting as Global Moderator on Bill’s website www.griefjourney.com
I have to say life has taken on new meaning for me today and I try to mix my work with my recreation activities and enjoy each day that arrives, I have also became close friends with a neighbor in my building she has a daughter and the cutest little dog I have ever known I just can’t help but love her ( the dog that is ) that’s her picture posted below.
Finally I just want to say to anyone out there who has lost a loved one, hang in be patient with yourself and things will get better for you as time goes by, have faith in yourself, and be inspired with the memory of the one you have lost.
I know I am because whenever I find myself weary or wondering how to face up to life’s many challenges I just have to talk to Jenny and soon after I get my answers.