The father-of-two wrote a bestselling book based on his wife's bucket list which was a mix of life lessons, thoughts, and reminders. It was later turned into a film.
Some people are so positive that they can turn the bad into good. In the case of St John Greene, a father-of-two, he turned the worst thing that could have happened to him into something beautiful. So much so that his life story was turned into a film, starring Emilia Fox as his wife Kate, who passed away from cancer. Kate wrote a bucket list, which included some easy and some tough-to-pull-off tasks, and St John Greene, or Singe as he is known, tried his best to fulfill them.
Singe and Kate were teenage sweethearts who shared a passion for the outdoors. "We traveled the world together, we were in each other’s pockets," Singe told Mirror. "When you’re that much in love with each other, it’s the only way to be."
Singe, who is a paramedic, and Kate, an insurance worker, married in 2003 and welcomed their child, Reef, the same year. However, just 18 months after their son's birth, they became pregnant again. They were overjoyed until their world came crashing down. They found a lump on Reef's stomach, which turned out to be a rare form of cancer and gave him only a 6 percent chance of survival.
Their son was started on a course of chemotherapy and had to undergo surgery. They operated on his leg and part of his sciatic nerve, and surgeons warned that their son may not have any feelings left on his leg. Kate, who was stressed and upset, went into early labor. Their boy Finn was delivered two months prematurely. "We had two children, each with life hanging by a thread," said Singe.
On New Year’s Eve, when they were sitting beside Reef, the mom-of-two told Singe, "I would swap places with Reef in a heartbeat." Ironically, the mother's words eventually came true. When Reef was four, she was diagnosed with breast cancer after she found a lump in her breast.
Kate, then 36, was given an 80 percent chance of survival, as per The Guardian. "It was as if someone had said: 'We’ll let you have Reef, but you can’t have both,'" said Singe. "It felt like Reef had been returned to me and Kate was being taken instead."
She received treatment for a year before her health started declining quickly. At Christmas 2009, she was told she had 18 more months to live, as cancer had spread to her bones. She lived for another month only. Her sons were five and four by then, and she had the painful realization that she would not be around to see them grow up. Yet, that did not deter her and she was determined to be in their life, even if she was not going to be physically present. Instead, she began writing down about how she wanted them to be raised.
"The first request came when she was home from the hospital for a bit. By then, she was on oxygen to keep her lungs working. The boys were in bed and our plan was to cuddle up in front of the TV. I offered her a cup of tea and when I heard her call out to me in the kitchen, I thought she was going to say she wanted two sugars, instead of one, or something. But she said: 'Singe, would you take the boys on holiday to Llantwit Major for me next summer if I don’t make it?' It was a beach where she had spent her holidays as a child. I was like: 'Oh shut up, you’ll be fine.' But she had clearly been thinking about it for a while because she then rattled off six more things, bang, bang, bang, like how she wanted me to take them diving to other places she had not yet been able to visit," said the dad.
Eventually, she had to return to the hospital, where she kept writing on Post-It notes, and by text when she was too frail. "Stupidly, I deleted some of the messages. Even in the last days, I wouldn’t allow myself to believe she was leaving me. I wanted her to have a positive mindset because I thought that was the best way for her to beat the cancer. I’d get a message and think: 'You’ll be here in the summer, silly bag.' I got fed up because until the end I thought there would be a miracle drug that would come along and save her," he said.
Eventually, he was left with two sons and a bunch of notes from her. Some of these were:
"Supply a flower once a week."
"Complete fidelity. Soul ownership."
"Take me out Saturday evenings."
"Be loved and to love."
So, he compiled the list which was a mix of life lessons, thoughts, and reminders, and wrote a book called Mum's List, which became a bestseller and a film. The romantic at heart did not give up on love and found a life partner seven years after Kate's passing. "The boys call my new partner Lindsey 'Mum' now. When we first met, I just knew she was The One. It was like a puzzle with a piece missing, and then Lindsey and her son Alex, now 12, came along and slotted straight in. The boys are so close. She’s great with the kids, she’s a real mummy figure to them, just like Kate wanted me to find," he told Mirror.