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Twenty-four hour care became a safety net for Tessa and her family in the final weeks of her dad's life.
'My dad was a very straightforward, down to earth, simple man. He liked the simple things in life. He liked a cup of tea. He liked watching the football on TV. He liked tending to the garden. He liked being surrounded by family and family photographs. He liked his arm chair.
'My dad was the sort of person who never wanted to go into hospital. He really wanted to be at home.
'When it comes to the end, nobody knows what to do, but the fact that my dad was at home meant we could get out the family photographs and go back over family holidays we'd had. Or we could play his favorite music to him. When he was conscious, he was able to watch football on TV.
'These are simple things that everyone takes for granted.
'But we had people to help make that happen for him and that meant a lot.
'Our family relied on the kindness of strangers. A flock of angels, in the form of nurses, GPs, hospice staff, Marie Curie and Macmillan nurses. They arrived at our door in a steady stream. I came to view them as a safety net.
'Whenever we stumbled, there was always somebody there to pick us up.
'They attended to all of dad’s physical needs. As he lost the use of his body, they maintained his dignity with gentle humor and the greatest compassion.
'Meanwhile, we were able to set about the emotional side.
'They sat with dad in the dark of the night so we could have our sleep, and when they thought the end had come, they would come and wake us up at, even if it was three o'clock in the morning, so he didn’t have to be there on his own at the end.'
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© Macmillan Cancer Support 2013
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