TOMMY Whitelaw's mum passed away at the weekend, surrounded by her family.
She was 73. You won't have heard of her, but you may have heard of Tommy.
Tommy used to travel the world, selling official merchandise on behalf of rock stars. But when, a few years ago, his "wee mum" back in Glasgow was diagnosed with vascular dementia, Tommy became her full-time, live-in carer. He did everything, and I do mean everything, for her: day in, day out, around the clock. He was devoted to her.
More than that, however, he made it his mission to raise awareness of the plight faced by many Scottish carers. He walked across the country, gathering their stories, which were often heartbreaking.
He made a small film to raise awareness of carers and Alzheimers. He addressed dozens of groups – carers, medical professionals, councillors, MSPs and social workers. He detailed his thoughts on his blog, which you can find at http://tommy-on-tour-2011.blogspot.co.uk. It is worth a read.
I mention all of this because I've known Tommy for several years, and admired the things he did for Joan, and for carers everywhere.
In his latest blog posting he acknowledges that his heart is broken. "The last five years seem like a blur. I knew my mum was very ill lately but it all seemed to happen so quickly ... We faced many, many tough times over the last years. I hope when I can think more clearly and have said my last goodbyes to mum I can concentrate enough and find the strength to celebrate in words the greatness of my mum.
"For five years I was mum's full-time carer as well as her son but as I sit here just now it's painfully obvious how much I needed my mum and in many ways she was my carer too. We were a team, we are so grateful for the kindness from people we know in person and from people we have never met and you have all helped fill some of the emptiness I feel inside. I thank you all and I am so proud and privileged to be Joan Whitelaw's son."
I met Joan a couple of times, and watched the tenderness with which her son treated her. Tommy found himself in a prolonged and profoundly upsetting position, but he responded with love and care. Once seen, it was difficult to forget.
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