My dad John, a gentle giant- tall, broad, and a very strong man. He was a brilliant builder and ran his own building company for years when we were growing up. He had a heart of gold – Dad would help anyone whenever he could. And he loved being silly, like when he’d pretend not to see me as he washed the car – and I’d end up drenched!
In early 2019, Dad was given his awful cancer diagnosis: only six weeks to live. We were stunned, shocked, heartbroken. From that point, everything happened really quickly.
After a brief stay in hospital, Dad was referred to the hospice to be cared for during his final few weeks. Mum had been visiting the hospice years before, for her own cancer treatment, so we knew how great they were (and how good their coffee and walnut cake was!). My brother Gary and I pretty much moved into the hospice for the three weeks Dad was there.
Spending all that time there, we got to see how incredible the staff were. If Dad needed anything, at any time of day or night, we’d press a button and someone was there straight away – nothing was ever too much for them. The nurses and doctors were so kind, always taking the time to explain all the medical bits in a way that Dad understood. It really helped to put his mind at rest. They popped in regularly for help with pain-management, checks and friendly chats. I’d sometimes plod around at silly o’clock in my slippers and the nurses would ask if I was okay and fancied a chat and a cup of tea, which was lovely.
Dad really wanted me and my brother to help care for him, and the staff allowed us to be involved at each step. We helped to wash, dress, and transfer him to/from the wheelchair. As I’d help him out of bed into his wheelchair, he’d say, “Can I have the pleasure of this dance?” with a cheeky grin on his face. He never lost his silly sense of humour! With such limited time, every moment we had with Dad was golden – and with the hospice’s support, we enjoyed those special moments together; moments that are such precious memories now.
“Thanks to the amazing care at the hospice, we were able to enjoy very special moments through Dad’s final weeks.”
My sister-in-law’s family are really musical, so when they came to the hospice, they were thrilled to see the piano. One of my fondest memories in those last few weeks is all of us huddled around the piano, Dad there in his wheelchair, singing along to some of his favorite old songs. It felt like the good old days; the family all together, laughing, being silly. Almost forgetting why we were there. I still go back to the hospice from time to time because it reminds me of Dad – pushing him around the gardens in his wheelchair, having a giggle with the nurses or us singing around the piano. It’s where I feel most at peace- the last time I had my dad by my side. I don’t know what we’d have done if it weren’t for the Hospice’s support.
They helped us get through a really difficult time and let us spend those special last days together as a family. For that, I’ll be forever grateful. Dad was at his most comfortable and pain free when he was in his bed there.