There was so much to look forward to as 2018 started, not least our daughter Sarah Jane’s wedding in May. January had hardly arrived when mum’s first cousin Esther died suddenly. For mum this was a huge shock as they were best friends and constant companions.

Coming on top of mum’s recent inability to drive anymore, this was a devastating blow.

Whatever concern we had about what could possibly go wrong for Sarah Jane’s wedding disappeared as she found the right dress and made it home with plenty of time to spare.

The week of the wedding was spent wondering if the weather would hold so she could have the ceremony outdoors. We were not to be disappointed as on the appointed day the sun shone. I was able to dash home from Castlemartyr Resort in time to vote on repealing the 8th Amendment and get back to walk the radiant bride up the outdoor ‘aisle’. Those three days of celebration I will never forget.

Not long afterwards Trish and I grabbed an Italian break and a first trip to magical Rome. We deserved it of course! As if our cup of joy wasn’t full enough, Daire announced his engagement to Mark. That’s another wedding next year, and where better to celebrate it than France.

Mum suffered a bad fall which necessitated 24/7 care for a few weeks, plus the eventual involvement of the Home Help service. As always, she hated getting help of any kind, even from her family.

She hated using a walker but realised after many protests that it made getting around the house easier, although going upstairs was no longer on the agenda. She hated losing her independence, and depending on others. Some of her zest for life dimmed, and occasionally she wished she were gone. We tried our best to cheer her up, called as often as we could, did her messages, paid her bills, etc

Trish and I had a trip to New York planned to stay with Daire in his new apartment. We had tickets for the US Tennis Open Men’s Final, several nice restaurants booked, even a Carole King musical.

The night before we left she was in great form, looking forward to the news when I got back, plus the duty free cigarettes she craved. I never saw her again. The morning after our arrival in New York came news that she had died. A terrible shock to get when so far from home.

Mum was more than just a mum, she was a wonderful confidant as she would never tell my brother or sister anything I told her in confidence. She was always there to support me in life, always there to boost my confidence, or with a hug when I needed it. She loved me every day of my life. She took a huge interest in her children’s lives and her grandchildren and great-grandchildren, but I was still surprised by a discovery I made after hear death. Tucked inside an address book were cuttings of the notices we published on our son Alan’s anniversary. She kept every one, even the mention I made of his death in my TV column back then. That was mum in a nutshell.

The next few weeks were busy with the funeral and it’s aftermath. I hardly had time to think or come to terms with her passing when Trish ended up in hospital after she ruptured a disc in her back. A trip we had booked for Lanzarote was hastily cancelled and poor Trish is still recovering.

To cap it all, I decided to book a trip to Wroclaw for earlier this month, only to discover too late at the airport that I had the wrong passport with me! What a way to end 2018.

Still, I’m alive. Here’s hoping you had a better year and 2019 brings some better luck.