Our latest touching story that appeared in Take a Break Magazine…
LISA, 43, FEARED HER TERMINALLY-ILL MUM, NELLY, 70, WOULD NOT LIVE TO SEE HER WEDDING DAY.
SO AS HER ONLY DAUGHTER, LISA MADE THE HEART-BREAKING DECISION TO FULFILL HER MUM’S FINAL WISH AND VISIT HER HOSPITAL BEDSIDE – WEARING THE GOWN – BEFORE IT WAS TOO LATE.
NELLY HAD EVEN BOUGHT SHOES FOR THE WEDDING, WHICH WAS A LONG TIME COMING, AS LISA AND HER CHILDHOOD SWEETHEART, ROB, 43, HAD DELAYED NUPTIALS FOR 27 YEARS AS THEY RAISED FIVE CHILDREN.
Slipping into my elegant gown, I took a deep breath in as my daughter, Jessica, 18, and cousin, Janet, 43, tied the lace-up back. ‘How do I look? I asked, giving them a twirl. ‘Beautiful,’ they both cried in unison. I applied one last coat of lip gloss and flicked my long brunette locks over my shoulders. Glancing at my reflection, I felt every bit the blushing bride.
Butterflies were whirling in my stomach and as I strolled down the corridor, clutching a single red rose, I knew all eyes were on me. But I wasn’t about to walk down the aisle to tie the knot and the looks I was getting were more of confusion than awe. Instead of waltzing into a church or registry office, I was stepping onto a hospital ward, and the stares were from patients and not guests.
I was there to grant my mum, Nelly, 70, her final wish. She had suddenly become very poorly and doctors had called my eldest brother, Michael, 47, and I aside to tell us there was nothing more they could do for her. Mum had always dreamed of seeing me – her only daughter – in my wedding dress and after prolonging the big day for 27 years, my fiancé, Rob, 43, and I were finally to become man and wife. My only worry was that mum wasn’t going to be around to see it. So before it was too late I made the heart-breaking decision to reveal all.
Some brides-to-be might believe it’s bad luck to show off your dress before the big day, but I needed her approval. ‘If I don’t do this I won’t end up getting married,’ I had told my family. They knew how desperate I was and all supported my decision.
Unable to utter a word, I knew if she was well mum’s reaction would have been a gasp and tears of happiness, but now she could barely crinkle into a smile. I knelt beside her and gently squeezed her hand. ‘What do you think mum?’ I whispered. Her eyes lit up and said it all.
There was no way I could have got married and enjoyed the day if she hadn’t have seen me in my gown, especially because she paid half of the cost. It didn’t seem fair, just in the year that we finally decided to do it, mum was struck by a rare brain disease. Within five weeks she went from fit and healthy to completely bedbound. It was so sudden and came as such a shock.
We only noticed something wasn’t quite right when her hand started to play up at the start of the year. Mum was having difficulty opening jars and fastening her seatbelt in the car. I took her to the hospital where she had an x-ray before being told it was probably just wear and tear. But not long after she then started complaining of a whizzing in her head and loss of balance.
We were constantly back and forth to the doctors and they were baffled as to what it might be. We were told it was probably the side effects of a virus, but mum’s health just kept on getting worse and in May this year she was admitted to hospital. Medics ran test after test, but all the results came back as normal. Eventually they discovered the problem.
Mum was diagnosed with a very rare and incurable degenerative brain disorder called Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (CJD). It had been linked to Mad Cow Disease. We were told that the condition mum developed was genetic. So my three brothers and I had to undergo tests to see if we also carried the gene that could mean we might get it too. It will be weeks before we get our results.
My heart sank as I realised that mum didn’t have much time left. We were more like best friends than mother and daughter and I couldn’t bear to think of life without her. She only lived a few minutes around the corner from us and would always pop around to see my five children, Sam, 23, Tom, 19, Jessica, 18, Alfie-Jack, six and two-year-old Ellie-Mae each morning before they left for the day.
She used to work in a laundry when she was younger and loved doing the washing and ironing. ‘You really don’t need to mum,’ I’d always tell her, when she nipped over to pick up our dirty clothes. ‘I like doing it, it keeps me busy,’ she would insist. You could always spot her coming down the road with her basket piled high of clean garments all neatly folded. But that was mum, always thinking of others and doing all she could to help me out. So when she realised Rob and I were finally going to wed she couldn’t wait to help us start planning.
I had only just popped the question – after accepting two of Rob’s proposals, but failing to get around to it – when the gossip started to spread. Before long mum had heard the rumours too. ‘A little birdy told me someone is planning on finally getting hitched. Is it true?’ she asked, on the phone one afternoon.
‘Yes!’ I squealed with delight. ‘Oh Lisa, I am so happy for you both. I never thought I would see the day,’ she laughed.
Rob and I met when we were 16 and 17, when I was working on my dad’s market trading business, and we have been together ever since. He’s always been a cheeky chappie and from the moment I introduced him to my parents, they had instantly adored him. Mum and my late dad, Michael, 57, had come to think of Rob as part of the family.
Almost three decades after we first got engaged, Rob and I had realised there were no more reasons to stop us from becoming Mr and Mrs Hoskins. The first time we thought about tying the knot was when we were in our 20s. We were just chatting about it when Rob said: ‘Why don’t we just do it?’ Hardly very romantic! But all was forgotten about when our five children came along and took over.
The years passed and on my 30th birthday, mum organised a surprise party for me at our local pub. Rob got down on one knee in front of all of our family and friends and popped the question properly. They all whooped and cheered as I excitedly said yes.
But still we didn’t get anywhere when it came to wedding planning and before long it was pushed to the back of our priorities. I am a firm believer of the saying: ‘If you want something done properly, do it yourself.’ So last year, just before Christmas, I took it up myself to bring up the subject of marriage. As we were sat watching television one evening I turned to Rob and told him this time we were really going to go ahead and get hitched.
It had been a long time coming, but now our wedding was at the forefront. Mum helped me put the wheels in motion as we booked the venue, decided on a navy, white and red colour scheme and organised 12 of my best friends, god daughter, cousins and nieces to be my bridesmaids. There was no going back this time.
Mum had even dashed out and bought new shoes for the occasion. The only thing she wasn’t involved in was shopping for my dream gown. When I found ‘the one’ she never had the opportunity to come and see it in the bridal shop, so it was all the more important that I take it to her. As mum was rapidly deteriorating, I knew I would live to regret not donning my gown to give her a sneak preview.
Despite showing her and some of the other women in my family, I managed to keep Rob from peeking at it. I showed her it two weeks before I got a phone call from one of the nurses. I rushed to the hospital, but just 20 minutes before I arrived, mum had slipped away. That’s the way she would have wanted it, she wouldn’t have liked for me to see her go.
Still losing her so quickly has been hard, but we gave her the best send off. Every Saturday night she used to nip to the pub with her friends to listen to the live singer belt out her favourite Elvis and Neil Diamond tunes. So we thought it was only right that the singer play at her funeral. We even booked him for the wedding as well. He was mum’s favourite, so with him there I’ll feel like there’s a part of her too.
I’ll have a photo of my mum and dad up in the church where we’re getting married and the minister will talk about them both during the ceremony this September too. I’m so excited to finally become Mrs Hoskins, I just wish my parents could be there to see it.
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