Emotional tributes as Marie Fleming buried in Wicklow
Letter written by right-to-die campaigner thanks partner for loving and caring for her
The funeral of Marie Fleming at the Church of the Holy Trinity, Castlemacadam , Co Wicklow, today. Photograph: Eric Luke / The Irish Times
Ms Fleming died on Friday at the age of 59 at her home near Arklow, Co Wicklow. A university lecturer, she was in the final stages of multiple sclerosis, and earlier this year she unsuccessfully petitioned the courts to be lawfully assisted to have a peaceful death at a time of her choosing without putting loved ones who helped her at risk of prosecution.
Partner Tom Curran told mourners that she had died peacefully at home, in her own bed, and that was what she was fighting for. “So what she fought for she achieved,’’ he said.
Mr Curran said recently she had slept during the day and was awake at night when they had many conversations. “She knew she was dying,’’ he added.
To laughter, he said that she was proud of the impact her red jacket had when she attended the High Court and she did not want people dressing in black for her funeral. “She wanted this day to be a happy day,’’ he added.
He recalled how he lay beside her at night, and recalled the thunderstorm which raged on the night she died. He thought that it might be anger at her passing, but then believed she was rearranging the furniture from heaven. “She had a bond with nature,’’ said Mr Curran.
He said that Ms Fleming had made it clear she wanted the right-to-die campaign to continue and he intended pursuing it with others. He said that being her carer was the most important job he had undertaken. “I was not just her carer; I was her lover and partner,’’ he added.
Ms Fleming’s daughter, Corrinna, read a letter written by her mother before her death in which she thanked everybody involved in her care and those she had encountered throughout her life.
She said of her partner, “thank you for loving me, caring for me’’, urging him to find peace in the beautiful garden they had cultivated together. Corrinna also read a Christmas poem penned by Ms Fleming in which she said she would be spending the festive season “with Jesus Christ this year’’.
Ms Fleming’s grandchildren gave short readings which spoke of their grandmother’s love of flowers, reading, telling stories and that she made lovely buns Her coffin was taken from the church to the strains of I Will Survive, and she was then laid to rest in an elevated part of the cemetery under the shadow of large trees.
She is survived by her parter Tom, children Corrinna and Simon and step-son David and grandchildren.