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In loving memory of James Duffy who sadly passed away on 9th March 2021
Donations in memory of James are for either Julia's House or Langside School.
If you wish to donate to Langside School please use the link below.
Eulogy for James Joseph Duffy
St Mary’s Church, Poole
11:00 am, 25th March, 2021
Firstly, Angela, Maria, Emma and I would like to welcome you all and thank you for making the effort to come here today at this difficult time to remember James and his remarkable life. You have all made a huge contribution to James over the years and we are so glad you have been able to attend. I’d also like to thank Father John and the team here at St Mary’s for making sure we can all gather safely today for mass.
Now how do I start to tell the story of the infamous Master James Joseph Duffy??
Well, from the moment of his birth in the early hours of 2nd October 2002, we knew we were going to be in for a roller coaster ride. From those very first minutes, he showed he was a fighter and the most resilient little man that I think any of us have ever known!
As for every prospective parent, the birth of a child changes lives forever. However, with James, we were crash landed into a world of flashing lights, beeping noises, and medical terms that made us feel like we had joined a film set. That feeling never really left us, but James continued to prove the doubters wrong and delighted in extending the list of his conditions each year - keeping us and his doctors on our toes! We lost count of the times we were advised to come quickly and prepare for the worse, but to the very end James had an almost superhuman ability to recover from many complicated situations and fight back to health.
I think it is fair to say that all of you here today have been witness to that amazing will to live at some point or another and how many times when all seemed lost did we see him turn his head and give us that cheeky smile? “Not yet Mum and Dad, you’ve got me a while longer” he seemed to be saying with great satisfaction!
For someone who could not say a word, James had the most amazing communication skills – when he felt like it! The smiles, the frowns, the grumpy looks when getting his teeth brushed, the shy looks when being smothered with kisses…he had so many expressions, ultimately topped by instantly falling asleep when he had had enough of you!
But none of his medical challenges truly defined who James really was. None of it described the love and sheer joy that he inspired in those who cared for him. Like all children, he was so vulnerable, but so able to inspire through his truly amazing personality and smile! Even in the darkest of times, a smile from James brought light to our lives and reminded us just how precious our gorgeous little boy was and how blessed we were to have him in our lives.
Indeed, that smile should have been registered as an offensive weapon as anyone who got the full force was instantly putty in his hands and under his spell. How many times did James came home with mysterious lipstick smudges from hugs and kisses at school? Even in hospital, there were many stories of nurses and HCA’s from the different wards popping in to see him at quiet times to ruffle his lovely thick hair and add to the hugs count! He always demanded his personal corner bed with a window view in HDU as well as a constant supply of crying babies to keep him occupied! The louder the crying, the wider the smiles! He wasn’t always on best behaviour though and I think many a nurse was sprayed with unmentionables during speedy colostomy bag changes while trying to hold in his escaping alien tummy parts! One morning, Angela visited him to find he had been in detention that night for snoring so loudly that none of the other patients in his room could sleep! Although no hospital visit is ever wanted, we always knew that James was in loving hands while he was admitted, for which we are very grateful.
The same care applied at Langside School which James attended for most of his life and what we always felt was the finest school in the world! He loved school and being with friends and carers who knew him so well. It is fair to say that he didn’t always show it however and there can’t be many pupils who were awarded a certificate for staying awake for all day! He must have felt safe and loved for him to fall asleep like that, but it didn’t do much for his GCSE results! Langside was a life saver for James and our whole family as it focused most of his care in a single location and over time introduced us to a wonderful network of professionals and fellow parents who were an enormous support to us.
Over the years, James received respite help from Julia’s House, Smithers and Naomi House for which we are really grateful. After a difficult time at Victoria Children’s Home, James finally hit the jackpot when he moved into Woodside care home with his new chums James, Josh and Max. At this point, he stopped being known as James and simply became Duffy! Like all rock stars with one name, he revelled in it and he had the most wonderful time with Eloise and the Tailored Transitions team there. We could not have wished for a more loving environment for James to spend his final years in and we have some photos to prove this later in the service.
Now there is one other person who deserves a special mention when we speak about James. I am of course, talking about Square Bear, who is now surely the most famous bear in Poole! If you know James, you know faithful Square Bear and he never left his side! Over the years he accompanied James everywhere and we were in big trouble if he was ever left behind at home when he went into hospital! Square Bear even had his own name tag for some admissions and was often used as an elbow support or to cushion a cannula! I think he has even entered the training syllabus for student nurses now and he is with James to the very end, tucked under his little arm, still getting hugs.
For someone so young, I believe that James has left a legacy that will remain with us all for the rest of our lives. We have learned that simple joys in life like a smile can be worth more than anything. We have learned that it is possible to keep going through adversity when you have love and support around you. We have learned that there are kind people in the world that can make difference. For our family, we have changed greatly but James will be especially proud to see how his sisters Maria and Emma have grown to be so caring and loving themselves. Perhaps this will be your greatest legacy, James, to make the world a better place for you having been in it.
Goodbye my son, rest in peace. You brought us more joy than you could ever know in your short life. Now is your time to dance and play with the angels and your grand dads.
I have one last request of you all before I close. James, as you know loved to hear singing and all different types of loud noises. Unfortunately, we can’t sing today due to COVID, but our final hymn has a section in the chorus when we will be able to clap! I’m sure Father will help us get the timing right, but please, if you can, remember to clap for James and let’s give him one last smile.
Thank you all.