A retired headteacher has published a book which she wrote while caring for her partner after he suffered a massive stroke eight years ago.
Now 68, Pat Clark was inspired to document the life of Scottish artist Charles H Mackie after being helped to realise she could have a life of her own, while maintaining her intensive caring role.
Her book, People, Places and Piazzas, took seven years to complete, with the support of VOCAL (Voice of Carers Across Lothian), a charity which aims to support and empower unpaid carers in Edinburgh and Midlothian.
She hopes her experience will inspire others who care for a family member, partner or friend to find the support that is available to enable them to balance their caring role with their own needs.
Pat, who lives in west Edinburgh, said: “Like many carers this journey was not the one planned for our retirement years. In 2008, instead of embarking on travels abroad, my world shrank to hospital visits.
“My beloved partner, John, had suffered a massive stroke. Without speech or mobility, his eight months in hospital were followed by six years in a nursing home. VOCAL proved a lifeline during that painful time and afterwards.
“Understanding, compassion and practical help meant that I did not lose hope. VOCAL also gave me the strength to find a different meaning in my own life, to embark on another journey.
“I started researching and writing a biography of a Scottish artist, whose painting hung on the walls of my small flat.”
When John died in 2014, Pat found that finishing her book gave her something positve to focus on.
“Both journeys have now ended but my debt to VOCAL is inestimable. This book is testimony to that help and encouragement,” she added.
Despite her own commitments, Pat has been a volunteer with VOCAL since 2009 and was on the charity’s board of directors for several years.
As well as showing other carers what is possible, she hopes her book, published by Samson & Co, will also shed light on the life and works of Mackie, who she describes as an “unjustly neglected artist who has produced works of exquisite beauty”.
The book has an intriguing tale to tell and showcases 40 coloured illustrations of his work, along with details of Pat’s travels in search of his art.
People, Places and Piazzas: The Life and Art of Charles H Mackie” is available to order from bookshops, Amazon or direct from the publisher’s website.