Category Archives: diagnosis

The reason

Today marks one year since this project was started, since the first Random Act of Kindness, since Love Join Me was born.

The 21st August was not just a random date to us, it was an important and significant date. It was her birthday. Not only that but today, 21st August 2016, she would have been 60 years old.  One whole year ago we started this project with one thing in mind – doing 60 acts of kindness for her 60th birthday – our twitter handle @lovejoinme60 represented this. We did it. 60 Random Acts of Kindness in her memory (the full list of them all is here).

This project started as something very personal to us; it has been about ways we could spread her kindness as a personal tribute to the wonderfully kind person that she was (see excerpt from our introduction below).

… when you lose someone you love you spend time thinking about who they were as a person: thoughtful, kind, selfless perhaps.  That’s what she was. Love Join Me continues with that modus operandi: to pass on kindness and love to others. Like the light of a star shines bright for millennia after its death, kindness can persist through the selfless acts that we undertake in memory of her.  Love Join Me is born.

There are very few people who know our identities. In this blog we talked a lot over the year about our Little Love Join Mes – our children.  Only one is really old enough to know something about what we’re doing, he knows we are doing kind things for people. Our husbands, although knowing of the project and being there for our second RAK Balls for Dogs, have been kept pretty much in the dark throughout the last year. It was something that was important to us – the attention is unwanted, we don’t want praise, we don’t want people to be proud of us. We, as with many others out there, have been struggling with the concept of true altruism but we’ve tried; because it’s about her not us, about what she did in her all too short a life and what she meant. Here is an excerpt from our post entitled Is there such a thing as a truly selfless good deed?, in which we’ve attempted to explain the reasons behind our anonymity and our conflicted feelings when carrying out our RAKs.

We are not doing this for us, for us to feel good. We are doing it because we want to help people and make others feel good. It’s not about saying “wow! Look what we did!”, it’s about saying “wow! Look what she did, look what she inspired”.

Look how her kindness is carrying on in selfless deeds in her honour and in her name: Love Join Me.  She did all this, not us.

LJM1 8th June 2016

We did it  in her name.  Her. The overused personal pronoun in this blog. Her, the original Love Join Me. LJM. Lesley Jean Maddison. Our mum.

If you’ve been following us for a while you may have deduced information about who she was and what she meant to us.  Just 20 days before her death, she appeared on BBC Radio Tees talking about her illness and encouraging others to get themselves checked. This speaks volumes about what her concerns were about being terminally ill with cancer. Her words speak for themselves.  The full recording can be found here.

I think to a degree your family suffers more than you because they just feel so useless […] I’ve got a lovely husband […] and it’s harder for him because he wants to take it away and he can’t […] I’ve got twin daughters, they’re 26, one gets married this Saturday, so things like that keep you going but then you’re sort of ‘I’m their mum, I’ve got to be around’. Even though they’re grown women you still feel that it’s your duty to be there for them and it’s things like that that I find difficult to cope with.

Lesley Maddison – 3rd December 2009 BBC Tees

Today is the day we want to make this bigger. Today is the day we want Love Join Me to spread further than it has already. We have followers in Canada, America and Australia as well as the United Kingdom and today is the day we ask something of you. All of you. Whether it’s the first time you’ve read our blog or you’ve followed from the start, we would like you to do one simple act. An act of kindness to someone else. In her name.

Love Join Me
Lesley Jean Maddison

21/08/1956-23/12/2009

Her last dance, just after her eldest daughter’s first dance. Man I feel like a woman! 

 

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Kindness counts

Before starting this project we were, in my opinion, already kind people. That’s who she made us to be. I use ‘made’ figuratively of course – we are kind because we grew up around her kindness not because it was forced upon us. I remember her telling me that she once came across an old lady in the street who had died. She wrapped a blanket around her and sat with her while an ambulance came. When other people asked if the lady was ok, she pretended that she was fine just so as not to upset other people. Another time, one of LJM1’s colleagues abroad was planning to spend Christmas alone.  There was no question – she would spend Christmas with us. Even during that time, the time of her first diagnosis (Christmas eve of all days) she went out of her way for other people. She made her feel welcome in a time of family, of tradition, when many don’t let the outside in. I wonder what she would make of the political nightmare our country is going through now. She had no common language with our guest but that didn’t matter. She would never have bought into the anti-immigration rhetoric.

Whenever I get upset that my children won’t know what she was like or when I worry about being a good mum my husband always says something along the lines of “yes they will, they’ll know her through you” and “she taught you how to be a good mum by demonstration”.

This week I have done two things that you might call kind. I am not, however, counting them towards our Random Acts of Kindness. For one, they are borne out of guilt and two, they are based on things I should have done but didn’t.

I forgot my best friend’s birthday six months ago. Well, I say forgot when really I remembered too late and she came round and I realised I hadn’t even got her a card. I’ve felt guilty about that for six whole months, so guilty that I’ve never even brought it up with her! This week I sent her some flowers as a half-birthday present. It’s obviously a nice thing to do but it replaces a present I would have got her anyway (and alleviates my guilt massively). The second thing is I created and mailed a photobook of my children to a distant relative. I realised this week that  I don’t even know when her birthday is yet she always sends me a card and sends things to the children.  I feel guilty because she hasn’t even met my youngest child yet. I am going to make sure I see her soon, next time I’m up in her vicinity. Again, a nice thing to do but based on what? Guilt. I’ll draw your attention back to this post.

It’s true that some of the Acts of Kindness we’ve blogged about we would have done anyway. That’s not to say they’re not worthy of noting and counting towards our project. Kindness counts every day and there are many kind things we do that we don’t note. All of the times we hold doors open, smile at strangers, pick something up for someone… they all count. This week’s two acts, however I’m not counting. Instead, I’m using them to improve myself – I’m going to make sure they don’t need to happen because I’d have paid them the proper attention they deserved in the first place.

LJM2

 

 

 

16 years

If I were her, I would have 16 years to go until my diagnosis and 21 years until my death. If I were to go when she did, my children would barely be adults.

Morbid? Perhaps. But thinking like this makes me realise how important it is not to get caught up in negativity. Like most things, that’s easy to say, but if you surround yourself with positive things and positive people then you’re half way there. Unfollow those people who annoy you on Facebook (it’s more positive than delete – they won’t know or get upset!). If you do positive things (like Random Acts of Kindness) you’re two thirds of the way there!

I am forced to consider myself lucky. After watching a tear-jerking episode of DIY SOS last night I do feel lucky – some people don’t even get what we had with her.

Cliché or not, life is too short, no matter what age you go. There will always be things you didn’t get to do and things you didn’t get to say. No one really knows when their ‘end’ will be; no one knows when their loved ones will go. So, be kind. Say your  I love yous. Surprise someone – a note, a text, a smile, forgiveness… whatever it may be. Spread positivity. 

Her last words to me were “I love you”, and mine to her. Not because she was going, but because that’s how we always ended things.  I wish I’d been inspired by a project like this when she’d been alive. She would have been on the receiving end of so many acts of kindness!

Love! Join me!