To mark National Grandparents Day (Sunday 4 October), Marco Quasimodo shares how St Catherine’s Hospice helped his Grandad and 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 toddler, and toothless, 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 a family together, he would make us laugh, give us guidance and was my very best friend. Bambi didn’t wear a cape or his pants outside his trousers, he didn’t need to, his just being there for all of us meant the world.
In the summer of 2006, Bambi had started acting a little oddly, and we all thought it was because of the malaria tablets that he was taking for a forthcoming 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 himself. Nan and Bambi had only been in South Africa for two days when my Mum got a devastating call telling us that Bambi was in the hospital and they had found a brain tumour. Nan and Bambi came home – For Bambi a lot of hospital visits, and a spell in St Georges. We all spent as much time as we could with him.
For Bambi, the whole situation was devastating. He lost his independence, not able to drive or make simple decisions. In March 2007, Bambi went into St Catherine’s Hospice, for all of us a new experience, for a medication review. After a couple of days, it was evident that Bambi was deteriorating quite fast. We, as a family made sure he was never alone, and the staff at St Catherine’s also made sure that he was comfortable and loved.
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 April 2nd was the day our music died.
I remember after Bambi passed away, we retreated to the lounge area at the hospice whilst the nurses did what they had to do.
Shortly after, one of the senior nurses came through and knelt down next to my Nan, who was sat in a comfy chair. She took Nan by the hand and, ever so gently, placed Bambi’s wedding ring inside her hand, whilst using her other hand to cradle over Nan’s. The nurse told Nan to cherish Bambi’s ring forever and keep it safe at all times.
My Nan was left without Bambi for nearly 13 years and sadly we lost her on the 1st of June this year – We can’t complain as she was 84 and lived a long and happy life.
St Catherine’s were on hand, once again, to offer us support in the days following Nan’s passing. They offered my family any help and counselling if we required it. We, as a family, hold St Catherine’s very dear to our hearts, and we won’t ever forget how much 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.”