Simon: Maggie had a seizure at home and later they identified that the cancer had spread to her brain. She went downhill quite suddenly – eight weeks ago she was still driving to work, commuting from Cheswardine every day, three teenagers at home and two grandchildren, a busy lifestyle.
Maggie: I’d been working full time until recently.
Simon: A week or so later she went into hospital to stabilise her diabetic condition but couldn’t sleep. It became a vicious circle so she came home but after 20 minutes she had a massive fit. She was readmitted to hospital and had another fit and ended up in resuscitation. The staff were brilliant, one who was due to go off shift and hour and a half earlier stayed behind because he knew her from last time she had been in A&E.
Maggie: I found it difficult to stay in hospital, but knew I wasn’t ready to go home. We met Tina, the Hospice’s link at the hospital, for the first time. She said they’d found me a bed at the Hospice. It freaked me out to start with but I have to say they’ve been amazing. I’ve just been allowed to sleep. After a few days of rest and when I felt much better we had a family meeting.
Jeff, the Social Worker, said ‘What is the one thing you’d like to do, what can we do for you?’ I said ‘Get married.’ I’ve known Simon for 13 years. We got engaged when I got the all-clear from breast cancer three years ago.
Simon: Then I had a stroke the very next day, which left me in hospital for several weeks.
Maggie: Every time we had planned to get married, something happened to just delay it. Jeff said ‘that’s not a problem we can do that here by special licence’ and 48 hours later we were married. It’s the most surreal feeling!
Maggie: The whole staff were involved in organising and helping with the event, nurses, healthcare assistants, manager.
Simon: Everybody. Cooks, cleaners, domestics, a real team effort by everyone.
Maggie: Also everybody who was in the Hospice at the same time came. It was just lovely. It was very, very special.
Simon: The most special day we’ve ever had. Our special day.
Maggie: All our children and some of the grandchildren came – it was just lovely. All the nurses, as my bridesmaids in blue! They could not have done enough for us.
Simon: Rachel put us in touch with a harpist, who came from Kinver. No shilly-shallying in shall we do this or shall we do that, let’s just make a decision and get on with it. It was right down to the wire; with ten minutes to go I was still writing the order of service then running to get it printed off in the nurses office so everyone would know what was happening.
She had a hen night complete with gin and tonic and feather boa. They started bathing and beautifying her at 5 in the morning.
Maggie: They were worried I’d be tired later and that was the time I was waking up so I had my bath then they put me back to bed so I could sleep.
Simon : I wasn’t allowed past the nursing station to see her until it was time. Apparently they’d decorated the room and a wheelchair for her depending on how she felt, but she came down for our wedding resplendent in her bed decorated like a fairy tale carriage with pink and gold organza and a large canopy above her head. How cool is that?
Maggie left me to sort out the order of service and readings, she had no idea what I was going to come up with, it was a bit like ‘Don’t Tell The Bride’. I had various ideas for bits of music and readings and Maggie left that completely to me.
Maggie: I didn’t do anything! The kitchen staff asked what I wanted to eat and I said a buffet, so that was what they did. It was wonderful.
Simon: I chose readings to reflect our life experiences that were also not to be too serious. When I first met her 13 years ago, she was reading ‘Captain Corelli’s Mandolin’ and there’s a bit in there about love. ‘Love is like a volcano, then it settles down…’ I remembered her reading that and thought it would be nice, she had completely forgotten about it! A friend read it as the first reading, then we had the Registrar undertaking the official vows, then we had a piece from Romeo and Juliet before the exchange of our rings. Finally we had a light hearted poem, by Pam Ayres on getting married which ends up with the words ‘I do, I do, I do’ everybody was laughing by the end of this. Mel, a nurse, did all the photos and we would recommend her for wedding photography! It was all very relaxed, totally informal.
Simon: It’s a lifetime achievement to have got married.
Maggie: Something happened every time we tried to plan it ourselves.
Simon: And this time it didn’t. Nothing could get in the way of the Hospice doing our wedding!
There wasn’t a dry eye in the house. Even one of the Registrars was wiping the tears away at one point.
Maggie: It’s been fantastic.
Simon: I think married life agrees with us!
Maggie: The whole of the staff here are fantastic. They’re friendly, helpful, nothing is too much trouble.
Simon: It’s a testament to true dedication of a team of caring people. It’s real professionalism.
Maggie: It’s all of them. If you have a panic, they support you and they sort it for you. They make it better.
Simon: She feels much better than when she came in. It’s been a truly positive experience coming here.