A Steyning family was left feeling touched after the ‘lovely gesture’ of a stranger brought them all a smile during a ‘devastating’ evening.
Helen Holland, 50, of Canons Way, Steyning, was sat in a care home at the bedside of her mother, Jenny Bowles, in the hours before her death last Wednesday.
Mrs Bowles’ health had deteriorated since the death of her second husband Colin more than a year ago and, with numerous health problems, it was clear she would not survive the night.
At around 8.15pm, a man arrived at the main entrance of Croft Meadow care home in Tanyard Lane with a white bouquet of flowers.
Staff said it was ‘unusual’ for someone to drop by so late.
“He said – give these to whoever is having a bad day – and walked away,” said Helen.
Staff immediately brought the flowers to Mrs Bowles’ room, where Helen was joined by her husband, Stephen, her brother Trevor and his wife Dawn, their daughter Hannah and her boyfriend.
Helen recalls: “I said, oh look mum, lovely flowers! She opened her eyes and looked.”
Mrs Bowles passed away just half an hour later at 8.45pm. Helen said: “Our family have been saying since, who was that man?
“It was such a lovely thing to do.
“It made us smile in a moment that was otherwise so devastating. He put a little bit of light into what we were suffering.”
Staff at the care home agreed that his arrival at that moment was ‘quite eerie and quite uncanny’.
Helen and Trevor stayed with their mother until the undertaker arrived at 1am. “I always said I would stay with her right up to the end,” Helen said.
Her mother, who died at the age of 77, had moved into the care home ten months ago – having previously lived in Brighton and worked at the Co-Op in London Road before retiring.
The grandmother of three had been admitted to hospital on December 23 with sepsis and released just after Christmas – but despite her health problems, Helen said she was ‘on the ball and very alert’ during the last two weeks of her life.
Helen had visited her nearly everyday at the home and said: “Although I didn’t want to lose her, I’m quite relieved she’s not in pain anymore.”
She said of the mystery flower giver: “I would really like to thank him.
“I know he doesn’t know where they went, but it touched us all.”