Hayley’s Story

Mel and Hayley Walton with Hospice nurses

“My Dad, Mel, was born in Halesowen but spent most of his adult life in Stourbridge. He was a proper Black Country bloke, well known in the area, especially in the Unicorn in Wollaston, a Batham’s Brewery Pub, where he had lots of friends. My Dad had many loves, one of them being “The Villa”. We were season ticket holders and shared so many happy times including a trip to Barcelona to watch Lionel Messi play. Whilst in Spain, Dad tried to grasp the language but got mixed up, greeting everyone with “Hellola” and I can still hear him now answering the phone to me in this way or him saying “Chin up mate, it’ll soon be Christmas” My Dad was super-daft!

When he became ill at the end of July 2022, the consultant said, “you have an 85% chance of dying from this illness in the next 12 months”. As I drove home, I asked him “Dad, do you understand what he said?” and he replied, “Yes, I have a 15% chance of living” he always saw the good in everything. A short time later he was admitted to hospital and eventually became so poorly that the staff started to mention hospice care to me. I was adamant that I didn’t want him moved, until a friend whose Mom had been cared for by the hospice said “you must move him.”

The day he arrived at the hospice, I parked my car and looked at the autumn leaves on the trees. I remember him having his lunch on a proper plate, with a proper knife and fork, and his own salt & pepper pot! I don’t know what I expected, but this felt like home. Dad and my dog, Ruby, were so close, he’d missed her during his stay in the hospital. I couldn’t believe it when I was told she could visit him at the hospice too! Those first cuddles when they were reunited did them both the world of good, they really loved each other. I just can’t put into words the care and support I received from the hospice nurses, they allowed me to be ‘Mel’s Daughter’ again, as they provided the care, allowing me to spend my time just loving him. We were a family again.

I was asked if there was anything I wanted to do, anything that would create a lasting memory. As Dad was determined to see out the festive season but was so poorly, I asked if we could bring forward Christmas Day. So, on 29th October we decorated his room and lit twinkly lights. The nursing staff gave him a Christmas jumper to wear and they stood around his bed to sing ‘Merry Christmas’ to him. The next day was to be Christmas Day. We had Christmas dinner with all the trimmings courtesy of the hospice Chef, Jean, and the nurses turned up (some of them on their day off) dressed in Christmas outfits. Although he was getting weaker, he had enjoyed what he truly believed was Christmas Day, he had reached his goal. A few days later, (on my Dad’s 29th December) he passed away, with me and Ruby by his side. It was 3rd November.

As the months have gone by since I lost my Dad, I have been determined to fundraise for the hospice, to raise funds to match what someone else raised for us, so that as a family we could have the dignified care we needed. On 29th October this year I am holding a fundraising Quiz night. It will be ‘Melmas Eve’, and we will all be taking part wearing our Christmas Jumpers.”

Hayley continues to be supported by The Mary Stevens Hospice, while attending supportive listening sessions to help her with her grief – Ruby always comes along to say ‘Hellola’!