Josephine Wardell took on our festive fun run, the Jingle Bell Jog, last year in memory of her sister, Tish. Here, she tells us why she’s popping on her Santa suit and white bushy beard once more to help support the Hospice this Christmas.
I still get butterflies whenever I go past the Hospice. It’s a very special place and I’ll never forget the care and kindness they gave to my older sister, Letitia – or Tish for short.
It was in March last year when I received that phone call, telling me she had lung cancer and that it was terminal. Nothing can ever prepare you for that conversation – I was devastated and just felt completely and utterly gutted.
The weeks that went by after that call were a bit of blur but I have one particular fond memory of Tish and I playing her favourite game – scrabble. It would be the last time we’d ever play together but I remember having so much fun with her, with the both of us trying to outdo each other with the most unusual words.
The next day, I went to see Tish for the first time at Birmingham St Mary’s. She wanted to go to the Hospice’s Inpatient Unit as she wanted to die peacefully and at ease. I remember thinking about that word – hospice – and how more often than not, people believe that it’s just a place where people go to die. But when I first walked in, I was surprised to see how calm it was. There was such a lovely atmosphere and there seemed to be so much positivity and hope.
The nurses and staff at the Hospice were just amazing – they really made Tish feel at home. Nothing was ever too much trouble and they always seemed to have time for my sister and our family. They even let Tish’s sons sleep over in their private family room – the ‘Harry Moseley Family Centre’ – for a few nights so that they could spend more time with her. That meant a lot to them and I know Frederick and Richard are extremely grateful for being able to do that.
Tish only stayed at the Hospice for one week but when she passed away on that Saturday, I remember being comforted by seeing her at peace. It was lovely to know that she was comfortable and not struggling during her final days. Even on the morning she passed away, the nurses didn’t rush the family away – they took the time to be with us and offer their support.
It was that kindness and dedication that made me want to do something and give back to the Hospice. That’s why, last year, I decided to take on the Jingle Bell Jog. Christmas is a time for giving and so it felt like the perfect time to support Birmingham St Mary’s.
I remember it being a very cold and frosty morning on the day of the jog but that didn’t seem to dampen anyone’s spirit! The atmosphere was great and all the runners seemed to be happy and having fun, especially the kids. It’s lovely to know that everyone is there for the same reason – during those times, it’s so easy to think you’re the only one going through it but really there are so many who are going through a similar situation. It’s great to hear their stories and find out why they are running.
I completed the run with my friend Joyce, and with my older sister, June, cheering us on from the sidelines. We had a lot of laughs putting on our Santa suits and just being silly. It was a brilliantly festive day that really got us into the Christmas spirit!
Tish’s sudden illness was a reminder that life really is too short and that you’ve got to make the most of it. That’s why I’m doing the Jingle Bell Jog again this year, so that I can support the Hospice that supported my sister. My fundraising may only seem like a little amount but if you put everyone’s little amounts together, that’s when we can make a big difference.
Thank you Josephine for sharing your story with us. If you would like to take part in our Jingle Bell Jog this year, you can sign up here.