What was intended to be a party for Anne Marie Smith’s 40th birthday, has become a fundraiser in tribute to memory, just six weeks after the mum of three lost her battle with cancer.
Thanks to the amazing support of family, friends and his Termon neighbours, Eddie Smith has summoned the strength to arrange the charity event in Killinkere Leisure Centre - with his late wife’s blessing in the coming weeks.
The Smith family has endured a traumatic last 10 months with Anne Marie’s cancer diagnosis and her tragic passing just six weeks ago. It has left Eddie alone to rear their three young children - Kealan (9), Aaron (5) and little Ava (2).
Anne Marie was just shy of her 40th birthday when she passed away and the couple had been looking forward to jointly celebrating their landmark birthday.
“The two of us were to celebrate our 40th birthdays this year; Anne Marie would have been 40 on Friday 31st July, my birthday is on the 1st June,” explained Eddie. “Anne Marie had started planning it last year – unfortunately we found out in August that she had cancer – she went through the radium treatment and then we learned that the cancer had progressed into her liver. In the middle of all the shock with the bad news, Anne Marie still said to go ahead with the night, whether she was here or not – then she passed away on the 18th May,” Eddie told the Celt.
Eddie says he is “doing my best” to carry on, for example, buying Aaron’s first ever school uniform ahead of starting in Killinkere National School in September.
Eddie has drawn great strength from his neighbours.
“I have gotten to know people, whom I never knew before – the support that is forthcoming is just amazing. The kids seem to be doing well and are getting on with their own little things – they don’t dwell on the past.”
Eddie felt obliged to go ahead with the event in keeping with his wife’s wishes.
“I talked to my sister Catriona about the event and we then also decided to make it a fundraiser for the Virginia Cancer Fund and Cavan Monaghan Palliative Care. We then decided to get some friends on board and talked to Martin Tynan, who loved the idea.”
It gained further momentum after the month’s mind Mass, with the formation of a committee. They recently held a launch night in Lisgrey House where speakers from the two charities to benefit spoke of their work, the Smiths’ generosity of spirit and the community support. For the past six years Virginia Cancer Fund has provided a taxi service or fuel vouchers to help reduce the stress for patients attending appointments in Dublin or Cavan. Council Cathaoirleach Paddy Smith, who is involved in the Cancer Fund was only too happy to join the organising committee for this event.
“I was delighted to take Anne Marie to Dublin and to know her for nearly six months,” said Paddy Smith.
Jimmy O’Donnell, who founded Cavan Monaghan Palliative Care in 1993 in memory of his late dad, also attended the launch. “The way the communities in Cavan and Monaghan is an inspiration to me,” enthused Jimmy. “When you are in a situation at home where someone is dying of cancer, you are very lonely. You are lost. Suddenly, out of nowhere a palliative care nurse appears – immediately you become totally dependent on that person – what they give as individuals and as a team to whoever is sick is inspiring.”