Marion’s story

March 2021


When Marion talks about her husband of 56 years you can tell there was never, and will never be, any other man for her. “He was an amazing man,”’ she says. “There’s not a bad word I can say about him.”

After 56 years of marriage and three children, at the end of 2020, Marion said goodbye to her beloved husband Keith as he died on the inpatient unit at Prospect Hospice. It was five days after Christmas but that had passed without any celebration.

Keith began life at a time when his mother and father were escaping the war. His parents were originally from London and owned a hairdressers but when it was bombed, they already had twins and his mother was pregnant with him. They decided to jump on a tandem and started cycling. They had no idea where they were going but knew they had to make the move to protect their young family.

They made it all the way to Purton just outside Swindon before they were stopped by a lady who offered them a cup of tea and asked where they were going. When they responded with a ‘we don’t know’ Keith’s father was offered a job at Lyneham and a house in Royal Wootton Bassett. Just as everything was coming together, his mother gave birth and their family was complete.

From that moment, Keith rooted and made the area his home. He trained as a mechanic and became engaged to Marion at the tender age of 18. Marion was just 16 years old at the time but they soon began to build their life together, working hard to save for their first house.

“He spoilt me,” she remembers. “I could have anything I wanted. The love he gave me was wonderful.”

It didn’t take long before the family settled into a house in Royal Wootton Basset that they made home and which Marion still lives in surrounded by her memories.

When Keith retired he took up a few hobbies including woodturning and would tinker with things in the garage. The neighbours soon took note as they passed him and said hello, enquiring as to what he was doing. “Some of the neighbours started to ask if he would help them and he started mending things for them. It was no trouble and he enjoyed doing it. He also made some wonderful pens which I still have in a pot. They’re beautiful”

As they were enjoying retirement, Keith was diagnosed with bowel cancer. The tumour was successfully removed, but a year later, another tumour emerged and they were told this couldn’t be removed.

“From this moment, Prospect Hospice started coming out to see him at home and we started to get used to having lots of people in the house caring for him in different ways,” remembers Marion. “We brought his bed downstairs to make it easier for everyone and he could also feel part of what was going on rather than being up in the bedroom.

“A lady from Prospect@Home would come in to sit with him at night so I could have a rest. It was exhausting making sure he had everything he needed and the opportunity to rest knowing that someone was there to care for him should he need anything was amazing. I remember she used to bring her knitting with her which I thought was lovely. I really couldn’t have got through those nights without her.”

As Keith became more ill, the family knew that they didn’t have long left with him and with only six beds available at the hospice’s inpatient unit, they didn’t think there was any chance the hospice would be able to care for him. However, not long after, they received the call they’d been hoping for to say there was a bed available for him if they’d like it.

“It was fantastic to hear they were able to care for him at the hospice. The time had come where it was just too much for us to look after him at home and he needed to be somewhere where they had people with specialist skills to be able to give him everything he needed. I was so pleased that he was going to be in such good hands but I couldn’t have imagined just how good it would be for him”

Keith was taken to the hospice in Wroughton by ambulance and the family followed behind. They settled into the single room a few days before Christmas and Keith spent the festive period surrounded by his family.

“We brought in some lights and photos to decorate the room but I didn’t really feel like celebrating. I switched right off and just didn’t want to know. Everyone was just so kind and understood.

“I did get him a gift of a dressing gown that we draped over him and, true to form, even being as ill as he was, he still made sure I had a gift. Knowing that I loved my handbags, he’d sent my daughter out to get this gorgeous Radley bag. It was so thoughtful.

“While I couldn’t face celebrating Christmas that year, everyone was so lovely and the chef cooked a lovely Christmas dinner for us all but I just couldn’t eat it.

“Everyone was so kind. I remember one day being ask to leave the room while they cared for Keith. I sat on a chair outside the room and a nurse came over to sit with me so I wasn’t alone. They really cared for us as a family and that was so nice.”

While the care given to Keith was greatly appreciated by the family, it was the small things that meant so much to them.

“The one thing I remember most about our time at Prospect Hospice is the wonderful view he had from his bed. The room looked out on to the spectacular gardens which was perfect for Keith as he loved wildlife. He spent a lot of time in our garden at home so to be able to look out on the world was ideal for him.

“There was the most beautiful pheasant that came up to the door on his first day there and, to our surprise, he came back every day and looked through the window. It was wonderful. We named him Freddie and we all looked forward to seeing him each day to. But on the day Keith died, the pheasant was nowhere to be seen. It was like he knew and wanted to leave us alone to be together.”

Keith died at Prospect Hospice on 30 December. “My daughter was with him on the day. She’d been there for four days by his side. She stepped out of the room for a moment and that’s when he went. It was almost like he was waiting for her to go so that she didn’t have to be there when he died. He cared so much about his family. His last words to my children were “Look after your mother won’t you” and that was him. He spoilt me rotten and was always caring for others.

“When I think of him now, I think of him looking out of the window and the hospice and into the garden. He really did like it there.”

Marion says she will forever support the hospice as a way of thanking them for their support at such a difficult time. “When I can, I’m going to have a big garden party and I’ve already told my friends to bring all their money!”

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