EARLY December last year, during treatment for bowel cancer, Gerry McGinley became seriously ill.

“He had been doing well, after an operation and chemotherapy, but the cancer had come back and he became very unwell,” recalls his wife, Theresa.

Fighting back the tears, she adds: “He pleaded with his consultant, ‘please, please, just keep me alive for one last Christmas with my family…’”

Gerry’s wish came true and the couple and their three sons Callum, 21, Jack, 17, and 13-year-old Daniel spent a ‘magical, cosy’ Christmas at home in Toryglen on the south side of the city.

“My dad absolutely loved Christmas,” smiles Callum. 

“When he was in the hospice, he used to look out on to the fairy lights on all the trees around the building.”

Glasgow Times: Daniel, Jack, mum Theresa and CallumDaniel, Jack, mum Theresa and Callum

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Jack agrees. “Christmas for us was always about being with our family, it was just cosy at home,” he says.

Gerry died, aged just 50, in January, and his wife and sons are preparing to remember him at the Prince and Princess of Wales Hospice’s Light Up a Life ceremony on November 30.

The McGinleys will join many families who have lost loved ones at a special service in Sherbrooke Mosspark Church on November 30.

The Evening Times will publish the names of all who have donated to the Light Up a Life Christmas tree in a special later this month.

“It’s important to us to be part of this, because the hospice did so much for Gerry - for all of us,” says Theresa.

“I knew the PPWH already, because my mum was treated at its original home in Carlton Place in the city centre. This new building is amazing - such a lovely place.”

After surgery and chemotherapy, Gerry and his family were devastated to learn the cancer had returned.

“He moved in here last November just as it opened, as doctors tried to keep on top of his pain management, and it became our second home,” adds Theresa.

Gerry loved the art therapy room, and spent most of his time there, drawing and painting.

Glasgow Times: Daniel and JackDaniel and Jack

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“I don’t think we really knew he was so good at art until he came here,” says Jack, who, like Daniel, is a pupil at Holyrood Secondary. 

Callum, who is studying history and politics at Glasgow University, adds, with a laugh: “His room was full of his pictures, it was like a wee gallery. He started painting pictures for other patients too.”

Theresa, who works in the clerical department of the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital, adds: “One day we all spent an art therapy session with him and it was fantastic. We just sat and painted, it was so quiet and comfortable.”

Theresa adds: ”Art became Gerry’s escape - it took him away from what was happening to him and helped him deal with it.”

Gerry loved the hospice gardens too.

“He was a roofer all his life and he loved the outdoors,” smiles Theresa. 

“He’d be out there, even though it was winter, every single day.”

This Christmas, the McGinleys plan to spend a quiet festive season together at home.

“It has been such a long and hard journey,” says Theresa. “But we have lots of happy memories too. Here at the hospice, it wasn’t sad all the time.”

Daniel adds: “He was so happy here. We all miss him very much.

“My dad wasn’t like other dads, he was something. He was amazing.”

For more information visit princeandprincessofwaleshospice.org.uk