Sunday, 1 November 2015

No one ever asked ,Joan Whitelaw , My magnificent mum

No one ever asked

My wee mum was the kindest most caring person you could ever hope to meet, her ability to love and care for others was inspiring.

Her parents both passed away when she was very young and my mum was brought up by her big sister Agnes along with her other sister my Aunt Blondie. My Aunt Agnes had a large family of her own but cared for my mum and perhaps this was the building block of my mum and made her the caring person she went on to become. My mum met my dad one day and there began a  true love story, two people made for each other and that was the start of a new love story, my parents love for their children. My mum like my dad lived for us and many other family members and friends and was always there to help out in any way she could. She worked hard all her life, especially over the last ten years my dad was alive as his health stopped him from working and took him away too soon. My mum would go out to work night shift after putting me to bed off she would go and work in the thread mill and be there in the morning to get us up for school. Fourteen long years mum worked her fingers to the bone to give her family the best. Across her many jobs she was always the hardest most thought of worker and when my wee dad passed away ten years ago my mum’s heart was broken.

I often thought that my mum would die from a broken heart and later as dementia took its cruellest toll I often questioned what was crueller; to die of a broken heart or to no longer remember the reason that your heart was broken? My mum gave so much to so many people, she made the little things better and she went without so others could be happy or succeed and I miss her. 

This is just a brief description of my mum and if you are reading this you now know more about my mum than most of the people we dealt with since diagnosis till she passed away, because no one ever asked .This highlights one of the biggest issues we faced, too often too many people over the last few years saw dementia first and not much more. Too many people even with the best intentions involved in this journey only saw a wee woman with dementia and that’s where we fail people. My mum was much more than that. If we only use dementia as the starting point, then we deny the life we led and can still lead for as long as possible. The starting point should be the person themselves, their life story, abilities, likes and dislikes.

My mum was kind caring, loving and wonderful friend and over the last few years too many people missed this because they never asked, they simply saw dementia and for that reason, missed out on knowing and understanding a remarkable lady who would have given them so much more than they gave her.

My filmed interview with NHS our story Caring for mum acute service training nhsgg@c 


  1. that is so sweet. i love it. :)

  2. It may help to know that we try to learn lots about the persons values & achievements & about their life history now I'm so sorry you were let down, your mum was lucky to have you & to know she was loved & a very special lady x

  3. Very important message Tommy. Your blog touches so many. Audrey x

  4. Seeing her wedding photo, she was also stunningly beautiful, just like the way you write to bring her alive on the page. Thank you for sharing her story with us x

  5. I agree with what you say. My dad lived with me for the last year of his life until then my mum had been coping on her own. In the months before he passed away aged 97 he had begun to have emotional outbursts and on occassion he could be aggressive. Because of this we were advised that they would be withdrawing our homecare package as a couple of staff hed reported that he had grabbed their wrist during personal care tasks and therefore my father had broken his homecare agreement. However, I do question how they could assess that he had made that agreement in the first place. In the end my dad was taken into hospital for short term assessment. Unfortunately he deteriorated rapidly as he was no longer mobilising and his interactions seemed to be restricted to our visits as he could be disruptive and was soon moved into a side room on his own. People no longer saw the funny, polite , caring man that he had always been who right up until a few years before he passed away would still stand up on the bus should a lady need a seat.
    My dad was in hospital for seven weeks and unfortunately we were not allowed to have him return home to receive end of life care which had been all of our wish. I cannot fault the staff in the hospital who provided my dad and my family with fantastic care in his final days but this will always be a regret of mine.
    Unfortunately my mum who still lives with us has also been diagnosed with dementia and we are receiving fantastic support from the Dementia Link Nurse but she worries that she will have the same journey as my dad. I try to explain that everyones dementia journey is different and we can only prepare for the future and deal with today in the best way that we can.


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My mums name was Joan ,my Mum Had Dementia - our Story 9 Short Films

Tommy’s speech, providing a carer’s perspective,  on the theme of “ No – one ever asked   ” highlighted the transformational impact that ...