Tag Archives: cancer

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! 

 

That’s the thing about grief 

Grief is a mess. A big steaming pile of … spaghetti soup. 


I remember being told that her days were numbered (as I returned from a honeymoon break no less) and feeling utter shock and disbelief. Was this really my life? Her life? It was like some kind of dystopian reality where nothing made sense anymore. Arriving at the hospital, I tactlessly announced that my phone was about to die. The irony of that was lost on no one.  Everyone else seemed absurdly calm whereas I was not. The days all blurred. Bizarrely, there was laughter and comfort and games of scrabble. One afternoon, I laid my head next to hers and picked up her almost-lifeless arm and draped it around me. I fell asleep there like that for a while, at peace where I had always felt at home. I never got to talk to her but I know she knew I was there.  

Months after her death, LJM2 and I had a few conversations about how grief was not what we had feared. The fear of death happening was worse in many ways. It didn’t mean that it wasn’t significant, that it was not bad (believe me, grieving a parent is horrific); we meant that we were surprised by our ability to cope and adapt and to still live.  Like she said in a radio interview just before her death: when asked “how do you cope?” she said,

You just do; you have no choice. 

It has now been six and half years since she died. You will notice that I refrain from using euphemisms which soften the harshness of death words. I always do. She’s not sleeping, with the angles, she’s not passed. She is dead and that is the reality we have to live with. 

In that time, we have lived through many stages of grief, even seeking answers as to when this will feel better. The truth is: it won’t. There is a new grief every day. We mostly accept that but it feels impossibly hard with every new experience. Every new moment brings her absence to the fore. She is not there. She does not know her grandchildren. I struggle to understand how some of the people who I love most in the world have not met each other. 

My children will not know how the tip of her nose always felt cold, how her body always felt soft, how she made a little click noise when she gave a kiss, the concentration face that she pulled.  Furthermore, each time the little LJMs do something amazing I want to tell her. I ask questions that will never get answered. Just this week the biggest little one tried out school. Was he like me? Was I that brave? Her absence is felt so profoundly each day.


Others seemingly forget. Others move on (and that is ok).  Some expect you to be over it. I’m even imagining all sorts of eye-rolling at the mere discovery of this project and blog. However, this is our reality. This project is helping. It’s helping us and it’s helping others. The last stage of grief? 


But that’s the thing about grief. There is no last stage. The grief dies with you, leaving someone else’s new grief in its wake

46 – Race for Life

A sea of pink came down the hill over the horizon. I had my whistle and my foam hand at the ready.  I was positioned well; I could hear the start so I knew it wouldn’t be long before they approached. Having run a Race for Life before I remember seeing marshals at the side of the route, cheering and clapping and showing the way.  I never really thought about who they were and why they were there until now. Here I was with my own story, my life affected and changed by the terrible disease they were running for. There were thousands of them, I’m not sure exactly how many, but what surprised me was how many different people were doing it. There were older ladies, small children, teenagers, even young babies in slings and prams. One woman had a toddler on her back and a baby on her front! Let’s not forget the dogs!

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Being near the start meant that it wasn’t long before the back markers passed and I was able to wander back to the start and finish line. I was really surprised that the front runner beat me back – now that was a fast time! I managed to watch as the second and third runners came in and was surprised by a young girl who came in the top ten. It was so inspiring.  There were people selling flowers to raise money and the radio was encouraging you to buy them to give to family and friends running the race. I bought one and waited a while until a little girl ran near me and I gave her the flower.

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I decided to wander back to the volunteering tent and on my way went via the board where people were putting their back signs – signs that showed who they were doing it for. It was moving – so many people affected by cancer, so many people whose lives have been changed because of this terrible disease. There was even someone who’d dedicated their run to Caroline Aherne, who had died aged 52 just the previous day.  Many were running simply for “a cure” and I really hope the money raised today helps find just that.

I watched and clapped as the final people crossed the line. One of the final finishers was a young boy aged 8. He is called Kasabian and has been battling cancer since the age of 2. He has just finished 5 days chemotherapy and yet got round the whole 5km course. What an inspiring young man. 

We really need to find a cure!