Such tender, loving hands

Catherine Doe was inspired to write a poem for palliative care nursing staff in memory of her mother, Christine Douglas, who worked as a speech therapist for the NHS for over 30 years.

Christine sadly lost her battle with breast cancer on 25th April 1987 aged just 55 years, having been cared for at St Joseph’s Hospice.

Catherine said, “The poem is a very personal, yet genuine testament to the unique quality of care that the nursing staff at St Joseph’s provided for my mother, and no doubt every single patient they have cared for, both before and since then.

“In the week before my mother died, at a time when she was in and out of consciousness, she told Sister Anne, who looked after her pastoral and spiritual welfare, that she could see ‘a star on the windowsill of her home’. It was such a beautiful and comforting image that Sister Anne shared it with me.

Needless to say, it is an image that has stayed with me for 33 years and which has now finally found an ‘outlet’ in the poem that I was inspired to write following the launch of ‘These Are The Hands’, a collection of poetry written primarily by NHS staff, published earlier this year”.

Such tender, loving hands
bathe and soothe, help to move
make comfortable
give pain relief
brush fragile wisps of hair
keep nightgowns fresh, pillows full of air
help to feed, tend personal need
forge pathways paved with gold
for the journey to silent lands…

Such tender, loving hands
comfort relatives and friends
who wait, watch, paralysed with fear and dread,
brew cups of tea, give advice for free,
placate, support, uphold…

These tender, loving hands
cared for my mother, with dignity, respect
preserved identity
kept her world intact
nurtured, counselled, enabled her to see
a vision of a future, where we could not be…

These tender, loving hands
created tranquillity and calm
shone a star on the windowsill of her home
where the front path was paved with gold.

Catherine Doe