“The memory leaves help me feel close to Carrie.”

News and Blog

Did you know that St Catherine’s offers beautiful handmade copper leaves to remember loved ones? 

Howard Collis has two engraved leaves in memory of his wife Carrie – one at home and one hanging on the Japanese Maple memory tree in the hospice garden. He tells us about his beloved wife and why the leaves are important to him as a tribute to a life much loved. 

“My wife Carrie was a gentle, kind, loving woman. She was a lady Morris dancer, and I first met her at an event in Warnham. I spotted this gorgeous creature dancing and when the audience joined in, she picked me to dance with, and that was the start of us. 

“That first night after meeting Carrie, I said to my cats “That’s the one” and they understood every word! 

“We were together for just shy of 40 years and married in 1984. 

“Carrie was diagnosed with a nasty sort of lymphoma in 2010 after getting terrible back pains. She had chemotherapy which did the trick, and she was fine again. 

“Sadly the back pains came back 11 years later. This time, when she came home from hospital, they gave her some liquid morphine, which she absolutely relied on. I don’t know if I was being thick, but it never dawned on me that things were so bad. She went downhill pretty quickly and in January 2022 we were told St Catherine’s could take her. I was delighted when she got a bed at the hospice. 

“She was in the hospice for three days. The day before she died, she had some friends visit her and she asked if they would be allowed a glass of wine. So there she was, enjoying this glass of wine and she told me to bring in a good bottle of wine the following day! Sadly she died before I could get it to her. When I arrived, she had already gone.  

“I like to think “typical Carrie” it was just like her to enjoy a glass of wine. It was a comfort that she was herself right to the end.  

“I had lots of contact with the hospice after Carrie died which was a great help and it was a staff member who told me about the memory leaves, which seemed a wonderful idea. I decided to purchase two – one to remind me of Carrie at home and one to hang in the memory garden at the hospice.”

“At home I have a little bit of garden front and back. My job was always to cut the grass, but everything else was Carrie’s job – she was the gardener. She pulled out the weeds and planted whatever needed to be planted. So a leaf felt very appropriate for her.  

“It is lovely to have one at home that I can say hello to every morning. I decided I would hang the leaf in our conservatory where we spent lots of our time. I have pictures of her all over the house and when I come down every morning and see her leaf hanging in the window with the sun behind it, it’s rather lovely.  

“Every month, or six weeks, I like to visit the hospice and spend some time in the memory garden looking at Carrie’s leaf on the tree. Coming to the hospice feels like visiting a relative. I sit in the garden and think about her. There is never any rush, and no one puts pressure on me to go.”

“On one occasion in the memory garden there were some leaves on the ground from the maple tree which are so similar to the copper leaves. I picked one up and I have kept it at home wrapped in some tissue underneath Carrie’s leaf. 

“The leaves have become a centre for my thoughts and helps me to think about Carrie deeply. They help me feel close to her.” 

“I have decided that it would be lovely for Carrie’s leaf to move to the new hospice. I thought originally it was the location that was important, but I feel Carrie everywhere, so her leaf has become a special way to concentrate all my memories of her.  

“I will definitely come to the new hospice to see the leaf on the tree when it moves. It looks a lovely place and I’ll enjoy visiting, having a coffee, and remembering my wonderful Carrie.”

If you would like to purchase a Memory Leaf or find out more about them, please email remembering@stch.org.uk or call 01293 447361.