It is technically Day 2 or Day 3 of World Alzheimer’s Month 2016 or Dementia Awareness Month 2016 #WAM2017, depending on what time zone you are in! Anyway, I decided, for want of the capacity to be more original, to dedicate some of my blogs this month to those family or close friends who I have supported and who have died from dementia. Todays is in memory of Michael Stone, a dear sweet friend (October 13 1955 – May 24, 2013) from complications of Vascular Dementia.
This was the eulogy I wrote and read at Michael’s funeral;
Like you, Michael and I have spent many wonderful times together, and used to jokingly say we’d end up in a nursing home together. Being such a ground breaker, he beat me to it! I have known Michael since 1986, and Peter since we partnered in 1996. He and my husband nicknamed Nadia and I Thelma and Louise when were travelling together for our work. Our children have loved him too, and he was the most delightful friend to them and to all the children here today. It is obvious Michael was much loved by the many tributes read out today, and the people here who have come to salute this kind man goodbye.
Michael, I have only ever known you as a gentle soul, someone who always saw the very best in others, even if they had wronged you. You have been my shining light of how to live my life, the Nelson Mandela of compassion and love, of treating everyone as an equal and never holding a grudge. I hope I reach his standard of unpretentious humanity before I die.
Whilst it is sad for those of us left behind, death gives life a deeper meaning. It creates the contrast, and finally offers the reality of who we really are. The meaning of a good death is that one size won’t fit all and we want to be as different in dying as we are in living. Michael chose to face his many illnesses with dignity and acceptance, without ever complaining.
We now must accept that his death is sooner than we would have wished for, but that the love and friendship we have received from this great man was enough. And more than that, we must now learn to celebrate his life, and our relationships, together as one, with unconditional love.
Written in 1725, by a Mohican Chief,
“When it comes time to die, be not like those whose hearts are filled with the fear of death. Sing your death song, and die like a hero going home.”
In all of our hearts, Michael died a hero. Farewell our friend.
I still miss this wonderful man, and know his family and friends do as well, some who will probably read this, so I am sending them global virtual hugs as well. This blog is in honour of Michael, and to remember him.