Rachel, Aidan and Helen Hedley’s mum, Jean Hedley MBE, was admitted to the Rowans last year. Here is their story.
When our mum was transferred to the Rowans, she visibly relaxed and said: 'I feel so lucky to be here'. The doors from her room to the garden were open and a gentle breeze blew in. There was a bird table outside and the hedgerows were alive with birds and wildflowers. It felt a million miles away from the Queen Alexandra Hospital and the hubbub of Portsmouth.
She had been in hospital for a few days before her admission to the Rowans, at the end of a long battle with lymphoma. As soon as she was admitted to the hospice all the painful blood tests and examinations, the bleeps, noise and stress of the busy hospital were taken away.
If she had stayed at home, she would have been worrying about her care, the family and whether we could look after her. At the Rowans she was able to let all that worry and anxiety go. A weight was lifted from all our shoulders.
The hospice team gave us back our mum for those last few days. They focused on making mum comfortable and spoke to her with such respect, giving her time to reply to their questions. They asked her what she'd done for a living - she was able to tell them her career (as a headteacher) had been one thing, but her retirement was so much better.
Rachel dropped into the conversation that mum was a former President of the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust - Jean Hedley MBE!
Our mum adored her family: children, their partners, grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. The day after she was admitted all the grandchildren came to say their goodbyes.
We sat in the courtyard by the fish pond in the sunshine, eating cake, drinking coffee. Even Flash, the dog, was made welcome at the Rowans. It was one of our best family get-togethers, a real party.
Mum had been working on a final creative project. The story of our family rocking horse, Dobbin, had just been published and the printed copies were delivered that day. We hadn't expected to hold a book launch at the Rowans, but we did.
Mum was beaming with pride and I think we all cried when we saw the book, the story of our family from great-grandfather down to the youngest member, who was just four months old at the time.
It was a very short-lived but special time at the Rowans. We were able to be with mum right to the end. Even after she had died, the respect mum was given was extraordinary.
We asked one of the nursing staff to make her look a bit more comfortable. As we left the room, I heard the nurse say 'now Jean, I'm just going to move these pillows a bit.'
That was wonderful to hear. Mum was still our mum, even though she had died.
Although she had supported the hospice for many years through the Rowans Lottery, she hadn't thought about leaving a gift in her will until she was an in-patient. Maybe because, like many of us, she didn't realise just how much fundraising the Rowans has to do each year to provide the services it does.
But we were more than happy to make a donation in her name after she died. It's also why we wanted to share our experience, so everyone can understand the amazing service the Rowans gives to our community and how much support it needs from us all.
Support your local hospice by holding a tea party for Rowans Silver Jubilee Appeal. Go to www.silverjubilee/rowanshospice.co.uk