Why we walk... by Katrina Austin

Katrina will be walking her first Moonlight Walk for mum Janet

Janet was my mum and my best friend in the whole world. She was a wife, a mother and a grandmother and a 'bloody' good friend to all who knew her.

There were many times that myself and my brother looked to our mum for guidance and support and she never failed to know just what to do or say. We were truly blessed that mother nature had rendered her our permanent ally. 

She had met my Dad when she was 18 at a children Christmas party when she worked at the Inland Revenue and I loved the story how she had met my dad who was also there helping while he was wearing a red clown nose. Days later he was at her door and my Nan had said there is a great big bloke at the door for you.  They were engaged within two weeks and married at 9 months and last year celebrated their 55th wedding anniversary. They were to me a life goal and an inspiration to never give up on the fairy tale. Yes, they argued, but they loved each other completely and it was clear to see that Dad worshipped the ground she walked on.

Mum was ready for her grandchildren before they were even on the horizon so when they started to arrive she was in her element. First Emily then Lucy followed by Henry, Lily and Frank. Her new title of Nana was a badge she wore with pride. Her grandchildren could never get enough of what we referred to as 'nana love'. 

I moved to Selsey in 2011 and mum and dad followed fairly soon. We had always been so close, spent so much time together shopping, holidays, getting out hair done or just simply watching the telly together. My god she would love to shop! Life was so good and mum would always make the effort to come and see the kids splashing about in the sea at East Beach.

January 2020 and there was this terrible news of COVID on the horizon and soon the whole country locked down. I strictly locked my parents down to keep them safe, I knew only too well the risk to them as I was now the manager of a nursing home. They were just round the corner but the very fact that we couldn’t just go round and sit with them was awful. As soon as we could get to them again we were there in a flash.

August 2020 and mum had a fall and ended up in hospital for investigations, they found no injury but she suddenly developed an acute delirium and we were at loss as to why. We decided to send her to Tenchley Manor as dad couldn’t manage looking after her. It was hard as they had been married 55 years and due to covid he could hardly spend any time with her due to visiting restrictions, but the home did what they could. Despite the best efforts of the home she began to deteriorate further and the staff requested St Wilfrid’s hospice input. 

Fairly soon St Wilfrid’s were on the phone to me and asking me about mum. I just felt as if someone was listening and could understand how much she was a focus of our lives. It meant so much. Sadly, mum contracted Covid and although she had received her first vaccination she was so poorly that she just wasn’t strong enough to fight this terrible virus. The hospice support to the home was great as they were in touch with the nursing staff to ensure that she was comfortable and calm.  She sadly passed away on 10 February 2021 leaving a massive whole in our lives. It turned out that she had suffered from a series of small strokes.

I saw the moonlight walk and instantly said to my friend and husband that we should do it. We will be walking for my mum and my husband, who is an ex paratrooper, will complete the walk with his 50kg Bergen. 

So who was my mum, well she was a sister, a wife, a mother, a nana and good friend to all. We miss her so very much but her grandchildren are her lasting legacy so she is still very much here and with us.