It’s no secret that we’ve had a tough few months here. My daughter’s diagnois of Type 1 diabetes at the end of the summer has really wiped the floor with us, again and again, in ways we could not have imagined when we first heard those words in the GP’s surgery. I lost a ton of weight, and not in a good way; I just couldn’t eat. Or drink wine – imagine!
Over time – although acceptance is still a long way off – that initial shock has become less acute. I found myself tweeting this over the weekend, after noticing that the friendship I had made with the last notch on my belt was beginning to grow a little distant:
It’s a good thing. It means that some elements of normal functioning have resumed, for me at least, whilst my daughter is beginning to find a new way of discerning what’s normal in her life. It means I can once more enjoy a glass of wine, eat dinner without feeling sick, and work. It means that anger now spurs me on to write, and that I can formulate the beginnings of a plan to help others who are dealing with the same problems as us, to try to focus outward, as we come to terms with our own situation. I wrote this, and instead of feeling overwhelmed by the response I got, I feel inspired.
I imagine this is a normal process for people who have had to come to terms with incredibly distressing situations in their lives. Last year I went to the Tesco Mum of the Year Awards, and left quite literally in awe of the women I met there. Mums who have lost way more than me, yet who have turned their anger and grief into something immensely positive to help others. It seems like a gargantuan task, and yet I now understand some of why they do it.
Introducing a compassionate Mum
This year I was asked to support another winner of the Awards, and I braced myself for her story as I clicked on her link. And once again, I was awestruck. Gail O’Shea is the winner of the Compassionate Mum award, for her efforts in raising money to help children with life-limiting, and often terminal illnesses. So far, through her own charity Wipe Away Those Tears, she has raised £1.2m to send children on holidays of a lifetime, purchase essential equipment their families couldn’t afford, and make home improvements to make their lives less stressful.
And her own tragedy? She doesn’t have one. She’s a mum who has 4 healthy children, who saw others suffering, and wanted to help, knowing that their lives could never be as untroubled as her family’s has been. Now that takes someone special. I’ve donated money, I’ve undertaken fitness challenges for a cause close to my heart, but I’ve never been motivated to work that tirelessly on behalf of another person. The fact that Gail has done all of this, with no tragedy of her own to spur her on is inspirational to me, and I can’t wait to meet her at the awards ceremony in March.
Gail helps 200 families a year in Essex to cope with incredible sadness and difficulty, and would like to see other organisations doing the same in their own counties over the UK. To find out more about Gail and the other inspiring winners, click on the link above. 2015 will be the 10th Mum of the Year Awards and that Tesco has awarded over 80 ordinary mums who have done extraordinary things for others. Head over to the Tesco Mum of the Year page to find out more.
Disclosure: we have been paid as part of our role as Ambassadors to the Tesco Mum of the Year Awards 2015. All opinion and edtorial is our own.