Helen remembers her dad Melvyn and how he kept his ‘thousand yard grin’ until the very end. Melvyn passed away in June 2011 at the age of 66.
Dad was diagnosed with MND in October 2009, the same week he was to retire from a long career in pharmacy. With the love and support from his wife Nora and the whole family, we did our best to carry on with life as best we could.
As Dad's condition progressed, everyday life became one big challenge. Dad also showed signs that the disease was affecting his behaviour. He was becoming noticeably forgetful and sometimes out of character. His frustration and feeling of helplessness was incredibly overwhelming for him. He tried to carry on as best he could, in his own way.
By April 2011, the weakness in Dad's throat was causing him difficulties while eating and drinking and he had a PEG fitted. A week later he became extremely ill with pneumonia. Dad recovered from this but the MND seemed to have completely taken over.
He stayed in hospital for a further six weeks whilst the care team decided where he would go from there. Finally a nursing home was found so that Dad could have the care he needed and somewhere more peaceful. Sadly Dad died a few days before he was due to be moved. We were able to be there with Dad, to comfort him and each other.
When I look back at how Dad coped with the MND I see things differently. I see clearly the bits that were my Dad and not the MND.
I greatly admire Dad's strength and downright stubbornness that this illness was not going to get him. At Dad's funeral a friend spoke of ‘Melvyn's thousand yard grin’. Up until that moment I never realised how powerful his smile was. This smile I had seen all my life.
Even though Dad was suffering so terribly inside and eventually lost all physical strength, he could still smile that smile. That is one thing the MND did not take away from him. I could list many, many more, but then we could be here all night!