While he was left alone to raise their family, Ian Millthorpe says his wife's notes gave him strength and courage to keep going.
Even while dying, a loving mother had one wish that her kids were brought up with her family values. Thus, she left behind a list of rules that her grieving husband could follow as he cared for their eight children. Ian Millthorpe was left devastated after losing his wife Angie to cancer in 2010. While he was left alone to raise their family, Millthorpe says his wife's notes gave him strength and courage to keep going. "Luckily she made it easier for me," he revealed, pointing at the 15 parenting rules Angie had written just days before she tragically passed away.
It has helped guide Millthorpe, who has been a single dad for almost 11 years now. When Angie was diagnosed with breast cancer at 29 and they already had three sons together - Ryan, Damon, and Reece. After five years of grueling treatment, she was in remission, and thus the pair went on to have five more kids - Connor, twins Jake and Jade, Corey, and the youngest Ella. However, in 2008, Angie was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer. Millthorpe lost his childhood sweetheart on 19 December 2010, but not before she left behind a comprehensive set of rules for bringing up their kids. The idea to create this list came to Angie after she surprised her husband by asking him about their youngest son's birthday one morning. After a few wrong answers, Angie sighed and told her husband, "You've got to know the kids' birthday's Mill. What if you forget one?"
Despite her grim future, Angie was not ready to say goodbye to her family without first ensuring that they were well taken care of. Thus, she grabbed a notebook and began writing down the birthdays of her eight kids. Next, she jotted down a list of parental instructions, which included points on ironing and hair care. The list had everything from pointers on bedtime rituals to a reminder of vetting boyfriends and girlfriends of their kids. Here are the rules:
#1: Plait girls hair or it splits
#2: Must do homework before bed
#3: Must be in 1 hour before dark
#4: Vet TV programs
#5: Don't let them bite nails
#6: Vet boyfriends/ girlfriends
#7: Keep going to Thornwich with the rest of family
#8: Be strict with them
#9: Check their hair for nits
#10: Only one hour a day on the computer
#11: Make sure Ella has her Meningitis boosters
#12: Don't have iron too hot for shifts
#13: Don't leave Ella in the bath alone
#14: Don't give them too many sweets
#15: Sunblock on hot days
After raising their children for years, Millthorpe now uses the same rules to raise a new generation comprising of his grandchildren. His love and effort have impacted his children greatly as every year, they celebrate their father while fondly remembering their mother. "He’s been so great and supportive. It’s because of him that I want to train as a social worker once I leave school. I want to make a difference to somebody’s life," shared Jade, while Ella added, "He’s amazing and makes the best chicken curry!"
Back in 2018, he and his family celebrated Father's day during their annual walk to Thornwick Bay at Flamborough Head, East Yorkshire. They also paid a visit to Angie's bench to pay her a tribute and cherish the precious moments they spent with her. Explaining the significance of the spot, Millthorpe recalled, "We used to lay in that spot as teenagers looking over the bay, so it’s a perfect way to keep her involved." He continued, "When we used to do the walk with Angie, she’d cook a medium-rare steak back at home, with chips, onion rings, mushrooms, and a sliced tomato."
"This year I’ll order that from a pub, where I’ll unwrap presents from the kids. My older sons get me Joop or Hugo Boss aftershave as a nod to Angie, as she’d always got me that from them," he added, according to The Sun. Although the father felt his wife's presence through the list, he still misses her immensely. "I miss Angie every day but I really did feel her absence during the birth of our grandchildren. She’d have loved hugging them, just as I do," expressed Millthorpe. "I can never replace Angie – I don’t want to – but I’m determined to do everything that I can to make her proud of our family. Luckily she has made it easier for me."
Representative cover image source: Getty | Photo by Mayur Kakade