I wish I had known Di better. I knew that she had been a pioneer in setting up the Association for Children with Disability, and through her daughter Isabel (a resident with Montagu) she had deep lived experience of caring for a disabled child. Di was one of the group of parents that set up Montagu, where Isabel and other young people with intellectual disability could live in shared accommodation with 24-hour support.
But yesterday I learned a lot more about Di, and how she supported and inspired so many people in her life. Her order of service consisted of excerpts in Di's own words, including parts of this interview with Prue Batten which I have just read in full.
I learned through the years of caring for [Isabel], a level of patience and tolerance that I previously didn’t know I possessed. This in turn helped me cope with my “lot in life” and made me realize that happiness, firstly in little chinks, and later in further vast chunks, was there for the taking if I would just focus on the right thoughts. I had finally learned that it was my attitude, not the events themselves, that determined my level of happiness.My friend Manuel Duharte spoke movingly and affectionately at the service. He worked with Di over a number of years, and was appointed CEO of the Association when Di was the chair of the board. He mentioned something her family later enlarged on – Di's habit of diagnosing your maladies and prescribing the best remedy. This earned her the fond nickname "Dr Bullshit".
Di stood down from the board about a year ago due to ill health; then in June, only nine months ago, she was given a diagnosis of Motor Neurone Disease. She withdrew into her family circle to spend as much time with them as possible. I have been thinking of her often, but was quite shocked to hear ten days ago that she had left home for the last time, going into palliative care. After a few days constantly surrounded by family, she passed away peacefully.
Thank you Di for your kindness and wisdom. Go well.