Hundreds of handwritten poems, charting a woman’s journey from teenage years to adulthood, is being published by her adoring sons, who will use the proceeds in gratitude for the compassion and dignity she was afforded in her last days.
A Woman’s Verse by Susan Ealey, tells of the highs and lows in the progress from childhood to womanhood, through youth, first love, raising a family, and into later years.
It also features the hardship of single parenthood, growing older, loss, secret love and finding one’s place in the world.
Susan Ealey was 69 when she died at Princess Alice Hospice in October 2019.
Her son Matthew, himself a screenwriter and author, said:
“Though my mum was only at the Hospice you for two or three days, it made a massive difference for those final days for her to be out of hospital, to be treated with respect and be able to say a proper goodbye to my brother and me, in a loving and caring environment.
“In finding Mum’s poems and deciding to publish them, we both knew immediately we wanted to give our proceeds to the Hospice as a thank you from us; also, we believe it’s what Mum would’ve wanted.”
Following Susan’s death, Matthew and his brother Marcus found 320 unpublished poems she had written over the years.
Stashed away in a folder under her bed, the pile of handwritten poems had no titles, no dates or explanation.
Her sons dedicated their efforts to choosing and categorising a selection to include in A Woman’s Verse.
“It will read as a poetry journey of my mum’s life from youth, to family, to love, to views on the world. We want our beautiful and powerful mum’s words to be read by as many people as possible, in her memory.”
Susan was a striking young woman who worked as a PA in Fleet Street and model, in the late Sixties and Seventies. She had her boys in her twenties and continued with her career, later becoming a single mum and juggling work and family.
Matthew said he recalls her writing poetry since he was a child, but she always kept her creative work to herself – apart from the occasional verse or two she’d share.
“Her own mother died when she was just 23, and she had a lifelong avoidance of hospital. Luckily she had always had a very healthy life and was never ill when we were growing up.”
“She only became ill in the year she died; a bout of shingles in mid-2019 marked a turning point in her health.
“Mum resisted going into hospital but it became inevitable – it turned out she had cancer – and it looked as though there was no option but being admitted.
“After a while, whoever liaises with St Peter’s Hospital came to see us, and we knew she wanted to be anywhere but the hospital – it would have crushed us all.
“The option of Princess Alice Hospice was just perfect – it gave us the time together in her last couple of days, to hear her final wishes, even plan her funeral with her – in privacy, peace and quiet.
“She had a great room, with a lovely view, which she could enjoy during her favourite season – autumn. She was treated with huge compassion and kindness, dignity and respect.
“It was the best place she could have been. We were so impressed – there are no words.”
Matthew, 45, and Marcus, 49, have stayed in contact with the Hospice, from which they continue to derive comfort and support.
A Woman’s Verse poetry book is available, via Amazon Paperback and Kindle.
Proceeds will go to Princess Alice Hospice and Cancer Research.