In loving memory of my Dad Guy Downing
As many of you know Beaumond House serves a 15 mile radius and I thought it would be a good idea to walk the circumference. It became apparent that 90 miles is a hideous amount for one person to walk. So the vision of my event evolved into 10 teams of 10 people walking 10 miles each. At the end of the walk each member of the team will plant Forget Me Not seeds in memory of a loved one.
Whilst I am the Human Resources Manager at Beaumond House and see on a day to day basis the patients and families we help, the inspiration for me organising this event is my Dad.
My Dad, my hero and the man I loved and adored. He taught me so much and I honestly thought he would be there for me for the whole of my life. To me, my Dad was an amazing, intelligent, funny, a lovely gentleman. I affectionately named him “Google” as he had an ability to answer any question on anything and everything.
He and my Mum owned a local newsagents for nineteen years and in that time I never knew my Dad have a day off sick. He got up every morning at 4.00 am to go to the shop. He loved having banter with customers and those that knew him will also remember him wearing shorts, even in winter and listening to classical music whilst putting up the paper rounds.
My parents retired in 2008 and he and Mum had a marvellous time going abroad. We joked that he had the hardest job ever holding down a sun lounger everyday.
Then totally out of the blue September 2011 my world as I knew it crumbled, my Dad phoned me and told me the worst possible news, he had been diagnosed with cancer. He didn’t say the word but we knew it was terminal, my Dad wasn’t going to get better. It was a question of buying as much time as possible through treatment. From that moment all of our lives changed as he very bravely fought the most awful battle you could imagine. However, he did this with complete courage and a smile, in fact he never lost his sense of humour throughout.
Even though I work at Beaumond House I still went to see Christine Smith, who is the Macmillan Information and Support Specialist at the Resource and Information Centre on Stodman Street. I wanted to understand and gain as much knowledge as possible regarding his diagnosis. I got tips on how treatments may affect my Dad and what we could do to ease and lessen any discomfort.
Jean Everington, the Welfare Rights Officer at Beaumond House, visited my parents’ home and gave them valuable information about benefit entitlements they may have be able to claim.
I treasured being in my Dad’s company. I have such fond memories of us sitting in his beautiful garden putting the world to rights over a glass or two of wine. My Dad loved being sociable and a good party, so I decided in April 2012 to have a birthday party. My Dad was really poorly at this point and said he would come for an hour, if he could. I really wanted him to come and he did. He was in his element and loved the party so much he stayed for a good 2 hours before he had to admit defeat and go back home. I was so proud of Dad that night for his determination but knew sadly it would be our last social outing together.
My Dad’s wish was to die at home and his wish was granted with the help of the Beaumond House Hospice at Home team.
On 1st November 2012 I had the phone call that I had been dreading it was at around 6.00 am, my Dad wanted to see me as soon as possible. As I approached my parents house, my childhood home, I was shaking with fear, but I went to see him and I sat and held his hand as we said our goodbyes. By mid morning my Mum who solely cared for Dad agreed that we should call Beaumond House for a potential night sit. Mum had been amazing in the way that she had so lovingly cared for dad. She hadn’t slept for 3 days and 3 nights as she wanted to be there for my Dad throughout. By lunchtime an RGN and Health Care Assistant had arrived to assess for the night sit, unfortunately at this point things had changed and Dad had deteriorated rapidly. The Hospice at home team knew this and calmly helped settle Dad and support us, they asked if we wanted them to stay, which we did. They helped alleviate any fears we all had, whilst leaving us alone with Dad to have precious time too.
Dad took his final breath with his family around him in the comfort of his own home, just how he wanted it to be. It was extremely peaceful and the Hospice at Home Team were incredibly respectful.
There were of course practicalities to sort. We didn’t know what to do, who to call, the Hospice at Home Team stayed and advised us, provided us with the necessary telephone numbers. Nothing was too much trouble. I remember that the RGN and Health Care Assistant weren’t in a rush to leave us which was extremely comforting and reassuring.
Organising the Forget Me Not Circle of Love walk is my way of saying thank you for the support Beaumond House gave my Mum and I whilst caring for my Dad. It is also a way to raise awareness of Beaumond House and funds for others in a similar situation.
In loving memory of my Dad, Guy Downing 1944 to 2012
This article featured in our Autumn 2014 Newsletter, to read the rest of the newsletter click here.