This week Hospice UK’s Dying Matters campaign is encouraging people to share the stories of people they want to remember on social media, with the aim of getting back to the heart of what Day of the Dead and Halloween are about. Here Marco Quasimodo remembers his grandad and tells us how St Catherine’s Hospice in Crawley supported his family at the time it was needed most.
My grandad, known to all as Bambi, was my hero. I, as the eldest grandchild gave him the name. He wanted to be called Gramps, but as a toothless toddler I couldn’t say it, so Bambi he became.
Bambi was full of love for all his family. He was the glue that held us as together – he made us laugh, gave us guidance and was my very best friend. Bambi didn’t wear a cape; he didn’t need to, just being there for all of us meant the world.
Handling difficult news
In the summer of 2006, he started acting a little oddly, and we all thought it was because of the malaria tablets he was taking for a trip with nan to South Africa. I offered to drive them to Heathrow Airport for the flight and became extremely worried when Bambi was dropping things and not being himself. Nan and Bambi had only been in South Africa for two days when my mum got a call telling us he was in hospital and they had found a brain tumour. They came home, and after that there were a lot of hospital visits. We all spent as much time as we could with him.
For Bambi, the whole situation was devastating. He lost his independence, and wasn’t able to drive or make simple decisions. In March 2007, he went into St Catherine’s Hospice, a new experience for all of us. After a couple of days it was evident that he was deteriorating quite fast. As a family we made sure he was never alone, and the staff at St Catherine’s also made sure that he was comfortable and loved.
Getting the care we needed
Bambi was always clean shaven and took pleasure in a good, old-fashioned wet shave. During his stay at St Catherine’s, he was in desperate need of a freshen-up, and one of the nurses volunteered to make sure he looked his best. Things didn’t exactly go to plan as she managed to leave the plastic safety cover on his disposable razor, but she still gave him a full makeover. We laughed as he was none the wiser, and the gesture was attempted with the best intentions.
In the early hours of April 2nd 2007, Bambi lost his fight, surrounded by most of his family. Our family were offered the love and care we needed from St Catherine’s staff, but that was the day our music died.
Shortly after Bambi died, one of the senior nurses came through and knelt down next to my nan. She took her by the hand, and ever so gently placed Bambi’s wedding ring inside it, using her other hand to cradle over nan’s. The nurse told her to cherish Bambi’s ring forever and keep it safe at all times.
Treasuring precious memories
My nan was left without Bambi for nearly 13 years and sadly we lost her in June this year. We can’t complain as she was 84 and had lived a long and happy life.
St Catherine’s were on hand once again, to offer us support in the days following her passing. They offered my family help and counselling if we required it. St Catherine’s is very dear to our hearts now, and we won’t ever forget how they were there for us when we needed them most.
Hopefully Bambi and Nan are now reunited where they can carry on where they left off, happy in the knowledge that we think about them every day.
Dying Matters is a campaign run by Hospice UK that works to create an open culture that talks about death, dying and bereavement.
- Help us break the taboo around death – join us today by visiting the
- Share a memory of someone you would like to remember – this can be a friend, family member, colleague or pet. You can include a photo, video or just stick to text if you want. Share on social media by tagging @DyingMatters and using the hashtag #IRemember