GIFTS OF LOVE: The Stoker girls? great aunt, Kerry Little, yesterday accepted four handmade quilts on their behalf. Maclean Pat
GIFTS OF LOVE: The Stoker girls? great aunt, Kerry Little, yesterday accepted four handmade quilts on their behalf. Maclean Pat

Valley's balm helps Mark and Cindy's girls

MY SON and daughter-in-law, Mark and Cindy Stoker, had been overwhelmed by the generosity of the people of the Clarence and Lower Clarence areas.

They had wanted to express their thanks many times weeks ago, however their ill-health prevented them from doing so.

Mark had said to me many times: "Mum, saying thanks just doesn't seem enough."

Indeed, words alone could never express the depth of their gratitude. The support from this community touched their hearts deeply and made their journey easier knowing that they were not alone.

Support has come in many forms to create the Stoker Family Trust:

  • Church groups
  • Volunteer organisations
  • A public auction in Grafton
  • Proceeds from Maclean and Alumy Creek markets
  • Golf days
  • Trade fair
  • Donation tins in businesses
  • Individual donations to the trust
  • And especially the Clarence Valley Lions and Rotary clubs, Clarence Valley Club, registered clubs and hotels throughout the Valley, thank you so much

Prayers were offered, meals prepared and delivered by members of Maclean churches, lawns mowed, air-conditioning provided for Cindy's room, a freezer to house the food, a vacuum cleaner when ours broke down ? all things that were provided within an instant.

Community Health provided much needed home support, and volunteers and friends assisted in various ways with family respite.

Mark and Cindy were cared for at home, with Mark going into hospital the day before his death, and Cindy going into hospital only three days before her death.

This was made possible by the Community Health Services, providing community nurses, palliative care team and housekeeping services of: Maclean Community Health Services; Commonwealth Carer Respite; Community Programs; Clarence Valley Palliative Care Volunteer Support Program.

Our thanks to all doctors and hospital staff and ambulance personnel who showed such kindness, compassion and sensitivity in their professional care.

Mark died on November 9 and was buried on November 16 at the Lower Clarence Lawn Cemetery.

When Cindy died seven days later, on November 23, in keeping with her wishes, the children attended a private funeral. Her cremation was carried out in the Coffs Harbour Crematorium at Karangi on November 25.

They were born one month apart 36 years ago, and died two weeks apart, and Mark and Cindy will be reunited when Cindy's ashes are interred with Mark.

During their battle with ill-health ? Mark three years and Cindy seven months ? they both showed such strength and determination to live life in a positive way.

Their sense of humour never wavered, and they set a fine example for their daughters on how to meet challenges and overcome adversity.

Mark and Cindy never lost sight of other peoples' plights and even though their situation was tragic and unbelievable, they still showed compassion to others in adverse situations.

Cindy told me just a few weeks before she died that she was happy that she had Mark and her daughters and had more than a lot of other people. Their strength and courage are an inspiration for others and their daughters clearly have their parents' qualities, showing them the way by rising to the occasion.

Mark and Cindy and their four daughters were a close and loving family who did everything together. They appreciated the simple things in life and made the most of everything.

This community enveloped the family with love, kindness and support without being intrusive, and we will be forever grateful for these outpouring expressions of love. So many people offered what they could, and lots gave anonymously, and to all we are eternally grateful.

Many friendships have resulted and I am touched and comforted by these.

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