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Monday 1 February 2016

The day after the day before how does one describe ones feeling after what we went through yesterday.

As the hours drifted by and the enormity sinks in that Margaret is no longer with us.
Now there is so much to do and arrange Margaret’s funeral.
We are against some deadlines especially as Matthew is scheduled to fly back out to Oman one week today with his family to carry on his job at the conference centre. 

Email Anne in South Africa to update her re Margaret’s death.


Collect death certificate from the hospital.
Arrange to register death at the council offices
Speak with chosen funeral home to carry out arrangements
Speak with minister re funeral
Arrange flowers
Arrange for details of funeral service leaflet to be printed
Book hotel for post funeral get together (Redstones Hotel – cannot do till after meeting with funeral directors)

A lot to do in a short space of time. Call made to council offices and meeting set for 4 pm today which just gave us time to get sorted – travel to Edinburgh Royal Infirmary to collect certificate and then drive back to Glasgow for council appointment – going to be tight any delays and we miss deadline 1.

Make it just – back in Glasgow (forgot – to add my panic as I cannot find birth and marriage certificates – I turn draw and folders upside down but they are not to found hate this feeling of being inadequate not able to locate the documents – read up on website we could register without them. Still very unhappy).
Registration made so decide to have a bite in Jamie Oliver’s in George Square.

Further appointments made at Co-op Funeral Directors Tuesday 10 am all the boys will attend with me.
Minister visit arranged for 2/3 pm on Tuesday afternoon.
Arrange to have a big family lunch on Tuesday David, Janice, Sandra, Steven, Yvonne, Philip, Jacquie, Matthew and Fiona. All to attend visit with minister.

A full on day – who else to inform apart from family – nothing more to add – I am on whatever it is to get me through today. The week ahead does not bear thinking about.

Philip and Jaquie give me much needed comfort – we seem to be all on a rush in and out of the red bus all week is there any end so much to do.

Jan 31, 2017 - Blog, Margaret one year on    No Comments

Sunday 31 January 2016

Up sharp with a fairly muddled brain with so many thoughts running through it. I think I had come to my own decision that Margaret would not be coming home to Carrick Drive. There is always hope that she might pull through. I had my breakfast and immediately got out the Mission Praise Hymn book and worked on a selection of hymns to pass on to the minister that morning in church.

Attended church to some strange looks as many had been in formed of where Margaret was. I told them that I needed a time on my own in the church just for this hour at least to get myself back in gear and give me my time to reflect on what I felt was going to unfold over the next few hours/days with sadly no positive outcome being likely. I arranged with the session clerk Maureen Sharp and the minister Mr Graham Atkinson for 5 minutes to update them after the service. I handed over my choice of hymns with an order to be decided if required. I knew that the minister was intending to visit Margaret on Tuesday but I told him that I did not think she would last that long.

A quick lunch and back across to the hospital. The Minister arrived just behind us and read the 23rd Psalm and spoke some lovely words in prayer for Margaret and our family he spent a few moments talking to us.

There was only one thing on my mind now was to hope that Matthew was still on schedule to get across from Schipol and Glasgow to see his mum. I spoke privately with the doctors to see if at all possible there was anyway we could keep her going till Matthew arrived I felt she was that close now mid afternoon.

As luck would have it Philip got in touch with Matthew in his hotel and after a chat Matthew texted a message across to Philip for him to read to his Mum. We gave him the space for him to do that a very difficult moment for Philip but I am so pleased that they both had thought it through.

Steven arrived with Yvonne and Sandra Margaret’s sister late in the afternoon. Steven told me that he did not go home but left when Janice and David arrived. He said that Margaret had asked for me but he told her that I had gone home to rest and would be back soon.

The time is now past 4 pm and we have just heard that Matthew is on route with Fiona from Glasgow so afar so good he might make it soon.

We were all round the bedside trying to not get in the nurses way with Philip holding his Mum’s hand when he looked to me and just says “She has gone” time is around 4.30 pm. 

We had to wait for the usual confirmation from the doctors whilst we were outside Philip left to meet up with Matthew down stairs.

Matthew came in a few minutes later we knew it would be touch and go but it was not to be – it was very difficult to console him and Fiona, I allowed them to go in and sit with Margaret before the staff had to carryout some further checks. When Matthew came out we had re really nice family huddle and a few words expressed at Margaret’s passing from this world. 

On returning to the room I immediately collapsed my legs would not hold me up any more – a short rest and few extra hands on me a glass of water and I was OK.

There was some time taken now in a relatives room for us to discuss a few things of where we were going from here. Leaflets obtained re bereavement etc and procedures to be followed.

We all did leave eventually for home a very dramatic day.

Weeks thoughts

The M8 travelling through to Edinburgh became a lonely place with very little said on our journeys. The week unfolded in such dramatic ways – firstly with the call and Margaret rallying round and then slipping back further with some discomfort.

It was very reassuring that Margaret and I had discussed at length over the many years what IF happens so I was ready to answer those questions to carry out Margaret’s wishes.

However when that time comes are you as prepared as you think you are when those question arise – I made so many promises to Margaret over our time together and this was one that I was determined to not let her down. Since her MS diagnosis in 1982 and her subsequent worsening following two previous hospitalisations her quality of life was her main concern.

As I went to bed that night it became even more obvious that a void had opened up for me- I had spent the last week hoping that yes maybe but then realising that it was not going to happen this time – space beside me that is so huge after all those years together through thick and thin – birth of three sons watching them grow up and our grandchildren. 

All I can say in closing this day you did it Margaret and thanks for allowing me to share it with you.



Jan 31, 2017 - Blog, Margaret one year on    No Comments

One year on


 “She’s gone” were the words that Philip spoke to me whilst he was holding his mother’s hand. The time was approximately 4.30 pm Sunday afternoon 31 January 2016. This time Margaret finally lost her battle to beat her latest war with MS associated problems. Since her diagnosis in 1982 she never lost the magic of her smile despite everything that her MS condition threw at her. We looked at ourselves as the ‘A’ team we were on the winning side. We met forty eight years ago on the 28 December 1968 and after a whirlwind four days in Aviemore we were to marry on 16 September 1970 have a wonderful life together and bring up three fabulous sons.

I picked up a card the other day which so summed up my feelings for Margaret.

Inside at the top I wrote.
It is one year on that you passed on to our Lord.
There is not a day goes by without me thinking about you.
(in the middle are these words) 
“And wanting you to know”

I wrote here some personal things which mean’t so much to us during our life together.

Love you always.


Jan 30, 2017 - Blog, Margaret one year on    No Comments

Saturday 30 January 2016

After yesterday at the hospital I had a very restless night. I do not know why or will never be able to explain but I went through and got Philip and Jacquie up at 4am as I had decided to get Matthew home from Oman if it was possible. You can call it whatever you like but my feelings were not in a good place especially after yesterday in the hospital. The time difference is three hours between UK and Oman thankfully Matthew had his phone in his bedroom and we were able to make contact over Skype.

I was very concerned about Margaret and I think if it was at all possible for him to travel home as soon as possible. He was scheduled to travel in a couple of days so I left it with him to arrange what he could. Received a call back to say he had sorted flights and would arrive in Glasgow late Sunday afternoon via Schipol airport. 

We travelled through to Edinburgh but decided to make a call over to Leuchie House to collect Margaret’s belongings it also gave us a chance to speak with the ladies to update them on Margaret’s condition. Lunch was taken in the dining room before we set off for hospital.

What greeted us was again not what we had expected Margaret was clearly very unwell difficulty breathing and her lips were very dry etc. I had a further chat with the doctors which was not very encouraging and I became quite concerned as to whether Margaret was going to get over this particular episode.

I made my own personal decision that I would ask whoever was visiting during the day/evening if they wished to sit for a while privately with Margaret. I had by late afternoon reconciled myself that this was going to one battle that Margaret would not be able to recover from and have a similar quality of life that she was comfortable with.

My time with Margaret was very special I spoke to her about all the things we got up to but what you do not know is what response you are going to get. I like to believe that there was reaction especially when I held her hand and played with her ring finger. I clearly remember saying to her that I was happy for her to go to be with the Lord as I could clearly feel that Margaret was in great difficulty and showing some signs of discomfort with her medication and clearing her throat.

Philip and Jacquie, David and Janice followed by Steven had their moment during the afternoon.

The staff were excellent coming in regularly to dab her lips as they were quite dry.

I was comforted to hear that Matthew was on his way from Oman to Schipol and taking a hotel bed on arrival.

We left around end of visiting time and I asked Steven not to stay too long because I believe it was about to snow and we had Harthill on the motorway to get over.

It did snow not a pleasant journey back to Carrick drive.

UK information update done.




Jan 29, 2017 - Blog, Margaret one year on    No Comments

Friday 29 January 2016

Philip and Jacquie arrive early morning through the wind and rain so grateful to see them.

Standard call to hospital re overnight report and told that another move was made to another ward which took a bit of time to get through to.
Report was a little limited on information so we decided to travel through to hook up to the visiting times.

What we found was surprising as Margaret did not look at all well, lacked colour and had difficulty breathing etc. managed after a while to get a moment to speak with the doctors and the allocated nurse as to what they thought was happening to Margaret. I was not used to seeing her battle on as she is always so positive despite her MS. The ward was not the quietest one with so many distractions so we made representations to see if we could get her into a room on her own so she could rest. 

Today was a sad day as we could only sit with Margaret and stimulate her hand especially as Philip and Jacquie had only just made it up from Northampton. I think Janice, David and Steven were surprised also especially after the previous two days.

Margaret is now on full dips for food as far as I can tell she had not eaten since the meal last evening but not 100% sure. 

I am now quite concerned about her condition but I had to place her in the doctors hands.

UK report update to family done.


Jan 28, 2017 - Blog, Margaret one year on    No Comments

Thursday 28 January 2016


Early call to Hospital re Margaret’s overnight report again a positive reaction from nursing staff. Set off again mid morning/lunch time.

I find Margaret looking OK considering the last two days and a little more herself. I was able to feed her evening meal of Steak pie followed by apple pie and custard. Today was very much spent just being with Margaret chatting without tiring her out.

Report to the family made late on.

Philip and Jacquie decide to travel up overnight from Northampton.

Left hospital after visiting time around 8 pm.

Wednesday 27 January 2016 (This does not seemed to be published on Facebook)

Early call to hospital for an update how Margaret had spent the night. Reports positive so set off to the hospital early morning.

Arriving at hospital found Margaret sitting up but tired and asking to go home. Margaret had had a couple of moves already and another one was planned to another ward.

Settled Margaret in new ward unfortunately we had to relay all the information again as it was not the same doctors but all sorted OK and we were able to chat a bit. I am now becoming a bit more hopeful that Margaret might well be able to recover. That evening I was able to feed her Haggis, neeps and potato and Ice cream.

Today has been a good day compared with yesterday a good day with more hope of a positive outcome. Information passed to Leuchie House re Margaret’s condition.

David, Janice and Steven were about most of the day but I left after evening visiting time for home.

Jan 28, 2017 - Blog, Margaret one year on    No Comments

Wednesday 27 January 2016

Early call to hospital for an update how Margaret had spent the night. Reports positive so set off to the hospital early morning.

Arriving at hospital found Margaret sitting up but tired and asking to go home. Margaret had had a couple of moves already and another one was planned to another ward.

Settled Margaret in new ward unfortunately we had to relay all the information again as it was not the same doctors but all sorted OK and we were able to chat a bit. I am now becoming a bit more hopeful that Margaret might well be able to recover. That evening I was able to feed her Haggis, neeps and potato and Ice cream.

Today has been a good day compared with yesterday a good day with more hope of a positive outcome. Information passed to Leuchie House re Margaret’s condition.

David, Janice and Steven were about most of the day but I left after evening visiting time for home.

Jan 26, 2017 - Blog, Margaret one year on    No Comments

Early morning Phone call

Tuesday January 26 2016
The call no one wants to receive especially at 04.00 in the morning.

To my dismay it was from Leuchie House telling me that Margaret had been admitted to Edinburgh Royal Infirmary and an ambulance was on its way. We agreed to rendezvous at the infirmary which for me was about an hour away. In quick succession phone calls made to Steven, Philip and Matthew in Oman and David her brother re the news that their mum and sister was in hospital with no further information at this stage.

Travelling through to Edinburgh was one of worst experiences on the M8 the rain was lashing with very strong winds and at the time in the morning I cannot believe the amount of traffic there was. Attempted to make more mobile calls but eventually as I found out when I arrived in Edinburgh the phone was completed discharged.

Now I am not able to communicate with anyone and I have not seen Margaret yet.

After about twenty anxious minutes the doctors etc come and see me and inform me that Margaret is very ill with suspected seizure etc. I had no idea how bad this was but eventually I was able to get into A & E and see Margaret.

What confronted me was Margaret really not looking at all well she was unable to communicate anything at all. The monitoring equipment was just buzzing away and bleeping with information on the small screen. Eventually a doctor came in and we able to establish that Margaret had not had seizure but a respiratory problem. I was now able to brief the medics of Margaret’s condition re her MS and any symptoms that I was aware of leading up till going to Leuchie namely some difficulty in swallowing but able to take most food and drink. 

She was clearly dehydrated etc so fluids added by drip etc.

Communication was now concerning me as it was fast approaching 10 am and I have not been able inform any one. Thankfully Leuchie House had called so I was able to tell them who to inform and that my mobile was down till I got it charged.

Today was following Burns Night celebrations and I cannot believe how full A & E was with all cubicles full and trolleys around the central area as well.
Doctor came and spoke to me that beds were short but he thinks he can get Margaret in the ITU section to get her more stabilised. A move is made late morning to ITU with Margaret looking a little better.

Just settling in ITU and David and Janice arrive which I was not expecting but most grateful for a shoulder to lean on. I made the decision that following the latest assessment that I wanted to go home take a shower and come back immediately with hopefully Steven driving me across.

Made contact with Steven to update him and asked him to meet me at home and drive me back through after a spot of lunch etc. I had not eaten or really got my head round what was happening over in Edinburgh. Back on the road asp getting back mid afternoon and a further assessment with the medics showed that the drips etc. were doing their job but she was clearly not out the woods yet. 

Following further discussion with doctors and another move into the general ITU area we decided to leave Margaret for the night and make our way home around 8 pm or so. 

Updates to family around UK to let them know that Margret was in Hospital.

Jan 25, 2017 - Blog, Margaret one year on    No Comments

Margaret goes to Leuchie House

Margaret goes to Leuchie House 25 January 2016

Leuchie House, North Berwick

It is one year ago that Margaret travelled to Leuchie House for the first of her two trips in 2016.  This section of my blog is going to record what was to become a very sad week for me, my family and friends. It will as far as possible try to recreate the weeks events on a daily basis one year on.

We got up as usual on the Monday morning and Margaret commented what a great nights sleep she had – all packed up and off we travelled through to Leuchie House in North Berwick. She was so looking forwarded to meeting up with the ladies there for a good social gathering over the next eleven days.

On arriving the usual checks were done by the Leuchie staff and a sandwich lunch taken and a welcome cup of tea.
Most of the group had arrived and were in the quiet room, yours truly was now redundant so a quick kiss goodbye and homeward bound for me arriving back home in Carrick Drive around 4pm.

I cannot recall if I had anything planned for the eleven days that Margaret was at Leuchie House.

There was some gardening to be done as usual I think the word was chill out Michael.


Dec 4, 2016 - Blog, South Africa    No Comments

South Africa Day 11

My final day in South Africa.

As they say all good things come to an end. Anne and Stan have been wonderful hosts introducing me to many of their friends and educating me in all things African.

Travelling with Anne to her school at Tanda Tula was very special seeing her class perform their end of school presentation. The game drive before hand took my breath away a kill on day one EPIC. Breakfast on the river bed was one of the best I had ever had OK I was up at 4-30 and in need of fuel.

The wild animals – Elephant so huge and so close almost touching the landrover. Lions in their natural environment and still as close as 10 m and closer on one occasion. Good number of Giraffe so huge and graceful in their movement as they picked up speed. There were numerous Zebra, Wildebeest, Impala and Warthog. The experience of seeing many Rhino especially as we in the UK hear so many distressing stories about poaching and the barbaric way the horn is severed from the Rhino.  We saw approx 6 all together and all with horns fully attached – a great sight.

Go home I must strong in the knowledge that I placed Margaret’s ashes just how she would have wanted – overlooking Vutomi Dam where many animals will come to drink a lovely tranquil spot chosen by Anne. I was so pleased to have Anne and Stan’s  company but especially Anne. I can see how close Margaret was to Anne they mirrored each other in thought and just the odd high jinx during their school days. 

Just a few pictures and video to collate and make something meaningful from my experience here in South Africa.

My final evening was spent inside the Traverse Reserve next door to Raptor View. A lovely tranquil setting to be enjoying a small drink or to in Anne and Stan’s company. The dam was not very full but the sunset over the nearby mountains made a fitting finale to my most wonderful stay in South Africa.

Totsiens- Raptor, Anne and Stan.
Totsiens - South Africa

Can't wait to come back