Sadly, my mum passed away today peacefully and without pain at the age of 84, eight years after being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease.
I was with her yesterday and held her hand. There was a feint flicker in her eyes of recognition.
Mum is already sorely missed.
Iris Gibson was born in Glasgow on 10 January 1938. Her father James died 18 months later, aged 41, of emphysema. He worked as a miner whose lungs had never fully recovered from him being gassed at 18 in the First World War.
My granny Jean brought up my mum, her baby sister Kay and older brother John during the war and beyond in very difficult circumstances.
Despite having emigrated to Canada in the 1950s, my mum returned home to marry my dad Kenneth, whom she met as a Wren when he was serving in the navy.
Iris had a strong work ethic and returned to her job as a bookkeeper only a fortnight after my twin sister Janis and I were born. Having left school at 14, she studied at Strathclyde University in her 40s and graduated in Business Studies.
Widowed in 1994, my mum was elected in 1999 to Mosspark ward on Glasgow City Council. She was twice elected first past the post and twice under the single transferable vote.
Her 16 years on Glasgow City Council prior to her resignation in 2015 due to ill-health, is longer than that of any other Glasgow SNP Councillor to date. She served diligently both her constituents and the city as a Bailie.
My mum’s first love excepting her family, was adventure. She travelled all over the world, from the Antarctic to India to Alaska. As a member of Strathclyde University Mountaineering Club, Iris climbed peaks in the Caucasus and Julian Alps into her 60s and ran 99 marathons from San Francisco to Tokyo to Reykjavik. In the photo pictured, she is running in the 1996 Glasgow half-Marathon.
When my mum resigned as a councillor Glasgow SNP group leader Councillor Susan Aitken said:
"Not only the SNP group, but the whole council will miss Bailie Gibson very much.
"She has been a model of exemplary public service, from the day she won her seat in 1999, at a time when the SNP held only two seats on Glasgow City Council right up to the moment when sudden ill-health forced her to take a back seat last year.
"Her dedication to her constituents in Mosspark and then Craigton and to the city as a whole in her role as a Bailie, has been second to none, and is reflected in the great fondness in which she is held.”
My mum was cared for during her last eight years by many kind and dedicated people, firstly at Haylie House in Largs and subsequently at Arran view in Saltcoats.
Janis and I would like to convey our heartfelt thanks to everyone at both care homes who worked so hard and selflessly to make my mum’s final years as comfortable, safe and cheerful as possible, even throughout the difficulties of lockdown. They couldn’t have done more.