Kristin MacEwan suffered from Polycystic Kidney Disease and was on dialysis as a result of renal failure for eight years before she died in May last year, writes Mark Entwistle.
Her last wish, however, was for a collection of her poetry to be sent to every renal dialysis unit in the country and the task fell to the second eldest of her four daughters, Katriona MacEwan, who lives at Huntshaw House, Earlston.
Although a native of Edinburgh, Kristin knew the Borders well and was deeply passionate about the area – a fact which greatly influenced her poetry.
As well as a poet, she was also a talented writer, designer and BBC broadcaster, and somehow even managed to find the time to train as a signer in Paris, work as a model and have four children.
It was her daughter Katriona’s idea to use the publication of the poetry anthology, entitled This is the Morning of My Life: A Garland of Poems, to also try to raise funds for the Polycystic Kidney Disease Charity. At the book’s launch at her home at Earlston on Saturday, Katriona presented the first copy to a representative of the renal department at Borders General Hospital.
Katriona, who was herself involved with poetry and publishing during her own 30-year career with the BBC, told us: “The story has local appeal, as my mother was evacuated in the Second World War to Hownam. But when all the other children returned to Edinburgh after the war, she stayed on.
“She had lived with the local ghillie and his family in their cottage and had learned to love the Borders countryside. Although she never lived in the Borders after that period, she knew the region very well and her experiences certainly influenced her poetry.”
More than 250 copies of This is the Morning of My Life are now being sent out to renal dialysis units across the UK and these are being sponsored. Over 150 copies have already been paid for by sponsors and of the £15 cost of each book, £7 goes to the PKD charity.
The book is in full colour, has been printed by Meigle Printers in Galashiels and bound by Hunter & Foulis in Edinburgh. Kristin’s poems are accompanied by some superb photographs of the Borders landscape, taken from the MacEwan family albums, as well as some striking artwork by Niall McWilliam from Edinburgh.
During her illness, Kristin, who lived in Hertfordshire, was a patient of the Lister Hospital and received dialysis treatment at St. Albans. Katriona says she has felt it a great honour to fulfil her mother’s dream.
“It has been specially created to uplift the spirit of any reader who turns its pages,” she said.
Copies of the book can be ordered for £15 (including postage) – or sponsored for a dialysis unit for £10 – by sending a cheque for the appropriate sum to: Katriona MacEwan, Huntshaw House, Earlston, Berwickshire, TD4 6AF or you can email her at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The book also went on sale at www.pkdcharity.org.uk this week.
And Katriona added: “Please make sure you tell all your friends and family about the book – it will make a lovely Christmas gift, and it’s a beautiful book to own. By purchasing a copy, you will be helping other PKD patients like my mother Kristin.”
This is the Morning of My Life – by Kristin MacEwan
This is the morning of my life
Be still and watch a star-drenched sky
Herald dawn with soaring music,
As drifts of swallows soar and fly.
Stretching forth I reach the sunshine -
Source of life and warmth and growth,
New power again and rising glory,
Golden rays that seek the truth.
Daylight rushes forth from darkness,
Life force powers the world anew.
I am here to greet this moment,
And my breath drinks deep the hue.
Bless me Father this new morning,
Take my hand but let me stay,
Be my guide and comfort ever
As I step into the day.