If you have a memory for such things, you may remember that in June last year our friends, Jean and John, put on a successful coffee morning in aid of the MNDA just down the road in Grove. It was a lovely sunny morning and a thoroughly cheerful time. I commented here, "As well as friends and neighbours, there were four of us there who had MND at various points of progression, Jean herself, David the herb farmer, Maria the shopper, and me. Three of us were out in the garden, and, yes, we did talk about our frustrations and the lessons we'd learned, but it wasn't a moany sort of conversation. It was companionable, and at times jokey."
David and Jean both died before Christmas. Last Wednesday night, Maria too died. Maria too was a delightful person - a devout Catholic with a sense of humour and hope. It's sad to realise I shan't be seeing her again, this side of the grave. The deaths of these three local friends and Jozanne thousands of miles away bring home to me the speed and harsh reality of the usual MND. I was talking about this recently with my physio and saying how I feel almost guilty to be among the "lucky" few with a very slow form. She gently pointed out the irrationality of the feeling! She also commented on the amazing qualities such as strength that the illness brings out in the family carers. That was certainly true of Eric, Maria's husband, and Camilla, her daughter. One of my other conclusions is that I would now put a "health warning" at the start of My Donkeybody, saying it's an account of PLS, a very gradual form of MND and far from typical, so that readers don't have unrealistic expectations raised for themselves or their relatives. (At the moment it's in the appendix.) So it's vale, Maria - farewell, till we meet again.