The Saddest Goodbye.

by Caron on January 14, 2015

ronhusband

The Saddest Goodbye

The saddest goodbye: Endless words are written on dementia. But can ANY match the poignancy of cartoonist Tony Husband’s account of watching it steal away his father?

My photo of Tony Husband at the OPMA2014 just after he had received his award for Best Coverage of Issues Around Dementia, Barchester Healthcare Special Award, in recognition of his touching series of Cartoons about his Fathers dementia.

this photo shows Tony Husband with his award

When Ron Husband started to forget things – dates, names, where he’d put things – it took a while for his family to realise that this was a different kind of forgetting. In fact, it was just the first sign of the dementia that gradually took him away from them. Now his illustrator son, Tony, has turned their story into a heartbreaking picture book unlike any other. The result is a profoundly poignant account that will strike a chord with so many families touched by this cruellest of illnesses.

Tony has very kindly permitted me to share his beautiful work here for you should you, like myself, not have seen it. Thank you, Tony.

 

 Ron Husband, Tony’s Dad

this is the first in a series of Cartoons by Tony Husband

Hi Dad … can we have a chat about your dementia … Can you remember how it started?
Dementia? Dementia, is that what I had … Ha ha … I had dementia and you ask if I remember how it started … Ha, that’s funny

this is the 2nd of a series of cartoons in The Saddest Goodbye.

Let me think… I mean, it’s not like it just starts like a cough or a toothache, it’s something that creeps up on you
picture 3 in the series The Saddest Goodbye by Tony Husband.Because when your mum died… I threw myself into things … I was very active in mind and body. I wasn’t going to sink under…

this is picture 4 of the series the Saddest Goodbye by Tony Husband

I loved painting … watercolours … I did my own Christmas card every year. People looked forward to them, you know. Course, I had my pets in every one. Tee hee.

Pic 5 in the Saddest Goodbye series by Tony Husband about his Fathers Dementia

I loved golf … I wasn’t that good, mind. I did enjoy the company, though, and the exercise … and I was the Seniors President, too.

Picture 6 in the Tony Husband series the Saddest Goodbye about his Fathers dementia.I liked being involved in the community. I was a bit of a committee man: the golf club; Probis; the War Memorial Trust. I liked a debate, a bit of a fight if I’m honest

pic 7 in Tony Husbands the Saddest Goodbye about his Fathers Dementia.How about your great achievement? You know, your First World War project.
Aye? Oh yes, that was an achievement, wasn’t it … You mean researching all the lads from the town who died in the Great War. Great task, more like … phew!

pic8 in the Saddest Goodbye. Tony Husbands story of his Fathers dementia

But Dad, the mental strength it took to do all that research … You were relentless. Yes I know! It was hard, but someone had to do it. Someone had to chronicle all those lads who perished. Every single name is now in remembrance books, and I got the council to create a memorial garden. Proud of that.

pic9

I loved playing my piano … Boogie Woogie and blues … I played in bands in the Army, I was that good

pic 10 in Tony Husbands the Saddest Goodbye about his Fathers dementia

I enjoyed a pint … especially with my lads talking about football, politics, music … you can’t beat a pint and a chat
picture 11 in the Saddest Goodbye from Tony Husband. The story of his Fathers dementia

And, of course, my dog, Lossie … my lovely best pal. Always there for me. Kept loneliness at the door. Oh Lossie.

picture 12 in the series the Saddest Goodbye by Tony Husband

But things began to change didn’t they. We noticed you weren’t the same but we couldn’t pin it down. It was just a … feeling we had.
Yes … things did change slowly … I mean we all forget, and that’s the problem – when do you realise it’s a different form of forgetting?

this is picture 13 in a series of cartoons by Tony Husband called the Saddest Goodbye about his Fathers dementia

So how did it start for you Dad?
Just that, forgetting things, I suppose. Dates, names, appointments … daft things, important things. ‘What I’m on the tee in ten minutes? … bloody hell, no, of course I’d not forget. I’m on my way.’
pic14

I’d go out and leave the door open or I’d lock myself out. ‘Ron, your door!’

this is picture 15 in the Tony Husband series

I left the tap running a number of times … flooded myself out, apparently.
pic16 in the Tony Husband story the Saddest Goodbye about his Fathers dementia

And going out in my pyjama bottoms wasn’t the wisest move

this is picture 17 in the story The strange thing was, though … my distant memory cleared up. I could remember stories I’d long forgotten about my childhood

pic18And my wartime experiences…
Yes, you told us some, er … interesting stories

this is picture 19 of the series the saddest goodbye by Tony Husband about his fathers dementia

Do you remember the anxiety?
Yes. I didn’t like the post. It scared me, letters from people I didn’t know, all wanting money, the doctors, tax man. One said I owed £25,000!
It was from Reader’s Digest to say you were in the £25,000 draw. You didn’t win by the way
this image shows cartoon 20 of the series the saddest goodbye by Tony Husband the series about his Fathers dementiaAnd I didn’t trust anyone, not even my family …
Er … especially your family.
‘Hi … it’s us.’ ‘Come to get my money, I bet. Well you’re not having it.’

this image is a cartoon, part of the series the saddest goodbye by Tony Husband

Do you remember the ghost?

There was one, I’m sure … I felt its presence often. I’d put things down on the window ledge, and then it would vanish. I’d find it days later in the fridge or somewhere. It was very strange.

This is cartoon 22 of a series by Tony Husband called the saddest goodbyeThat’s when we decided to take you to the doctor … we were getting worried.
I didn’t want to go … got annoyed about it. All those questions, how was I supposed to remember all that? Ridiculous!

this image is a cartoon, part of the series the saddest goodbye by Tony HusbandThe results came back. Vascular dementia, apparently. The arteries in my brain were clogging up with calcium … and there was nothing they could do
this image is a cartoon, part of the series the saddest goodbye by Tony HusbandAnd if hearing that wasn’t bad enough, I had my car taken off me. That was hard to take. My independence was being eroded bit by bit. I felt isolated, lost…
We had no choice, Dad. You were a liability on the roads.  'Quick give me a hand … that old guy's left his handbrake off!'  Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2623800/The-saddest-goodbye-Endless-words-written-dementia-But-ANY-match-poignancy-cartoonist-Tony-Husbands-account-watching-steal-away-father.html#ixzz3OivgX4LM  Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on FacebookWe had no choice, Dad. You were a liability on the roads.
‘Quick give me a hand … that old guy’s left his handbrake off!’

this image is a cartoon, part of the series the saddest goodbye by Tony Husband

We contacted social services who, it must be said, were very good.
‘I’ve not seen my family in months, you know.’
‘They’re in the back room … they’ve been with you all day, love.’
this image is a cartoon, part of the series the saddest goodbye by Tony HusbandYes, and the carers got involved … They were fantastic, I loved their visits, so friendly and chatty. ‘I’ll just tidy up, then sit and have a chinwag. Here’s lunch for now.’

this image is a cartoon, part of the series the saddest goodbye by Tony Husband

But when they went … I felt lost, lonely.
Oh I remember the phone calls, 40 or 50 a day, the same questions. ‘Hello … have I got to go to the doctors today?’ ‘We went this morning… I’m trying to work here, Dad …’ Then we’d feel guilty for being annoyed with you.

 this image is a cartoon, part of the series the saddest goodbye by Tony Husband
Do you remember the aliens, ha ha … I thought there were aliens flashing messages to me, so I sent them messages with my blinds in Morse code, Turned out they were car headlights on the road across the valley … dearie me.
this image is a cartoon, part of the series the saddest goodbye by Tony Husband
There were people coming to my house all the time. I didn’t know half of them. Were they carers? Were they forgotten friends? They all seemed nice, and it was company. ‘Lovely paintings, mate. Worth a few quid, aye.’
this image is a cartoon, part of the series the saddest goodbye by Tony Husband
Yes Dad, that worried us. We knew people were calling in … and they weren’t all carers. And you couldn’t remember who they were.
‘OK mate … I’ll take this painting and get it valued for you.’
this image is a cartoon, part of the series the saddest goodbye by Tony Husband

I remember a fire, I think … was there a fire?
Yes … you left a chip pan on … a lot of smoke, but not much damage and no one hurt. But it was a big warning

this image is a cartoon, part of the series the saddest goodbye by Tony HusbandWe knew then we needed more help. We went to see the doctor. ‘I think the time has come for your dad to have 24/7 care … you need to start looking for a suitable placement for him … I’m sorry.
this image is a cartoon, part of the series the saddest goodbye by Tony Husband
Leaving my home was heartbreaking. But I couldn’t remember at the time why it was … I just knew that something had gone for ever
this image is a cartoon, part of the series the saddest goodbye by Tony Husband
And then I couldn’t have my dog … They took Lossie off me. The dog was fine, Dad. He was with us and he came to visit, you remember …
this image is a cartoon, part of the series the saddest goodbye by Tony Husband
The care home was nice, very warm. I had my own room and TV, though I didn’t know how to turn it on. There was a picture of me outside my door, so I’d know it was my room.
this image is a cartoon, part of the series the saddest goodbye by Tony HusbandI had a garden to go into, but the door was always locked. I had lots of photos of everyone … but with all that, I still missed something. And I didn’t know what it was
this image is a cartoon, part of the series the saddest goodbye by Tony HusbandBut for us – your family – it was a relief to know you were safe and being looked after. You had full-time carers
… we could visit when we wanted.

‘Tea up, everyone.’
this image is a cartoon, part of the series the saddest goodbye by Tony HusbandAnd when Lossie came to visit, it cheered everyone up … She made us smile.
this image is a cartoon, part of the series the saddest goodbye by Tony HusbandCourse, I had my music still … Do you know, it never left me. Never left any of us, really. We’d have dances and sing-songs and play piano, and we had lovely times.
this image is a cartoon, part of the series the saddest goodbye by Tony HusbandWe realised the one thing that stayed was your music. Word for word, note for note … it never left you.
Yes, music gave me freedom.
this image is a cartoon, part of the series the saddest goodbye by Tony HusbandI remember you came for Christmas dinner that last time. We were playing a Christmas album with a wonderful version of Silent Night. You hadn’t said a word all day, but as the song started you put your knife and fork down and sang along with them.
pic44
I liked it when one of you took me out. It was a change. Sometimes I thought deep down I was going home. Sometimes, though, I wanted to get back as soon as possible. I felt anxious outside that home … everything was overwhelming, frightening. ‘Come on back, Ron, we’ll make you a cuppa.’
pic45My memories were confused, jumbled… nothing made sense, the world I knew was disappearing, it didn’t make sense and I presume I didn’t either.
Yes things were deteriorating now…
‘Come on Ron … have some dinner …’
pic46You rarely left your bed, you didn’t recognise any of us, you even stopped playing your music. Our only comfort was that you were protected, warm …
‘Hello, not getting up again … let’s have a look at you then.’
pic47

Yes, you slept all the time. We would all visit, but you wouldn’t know we were there. You didn’t respond at all.

I remember one time, though. I'd spent a few hours with you in your room. You slept, I worked. Then, when I left and said goodbye, you replied, clear as a bell: 'Take care son.' It took me aback. They were the last words I heard you say.

 pic49

It was like a candle flickering back to life for a moment … then it went out for ever. It was all very scary. Imagine a day when nothing will mean anything to you.
pic50

Every memory of everything and everyone you loved and cherished would be wiped away …

When you love life as I did and you loved your life as I did . . . can  anything be so cruel?<br /><br /><br /><br /><br />
No, Dad, I don¿t think it can.

 

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Rachel June 12, 2016 at 4:35 pm

I hadn’t seen this before Caron, yep it made me cry and I shared it because we need to let those know, that are being affected by Dementia, especially in the early days, that they or their family member are not stupid, they have a disease they have no control over and that because of people like you, there is more support and help out there now than ever before.

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Caron June 13, 2016 at 7:01 pm

It is a good way other than using simply words to portray the sadness of dementia.

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Robert Mason January 14, 2015 at 1:32 pm

Thank you, Caron – that is a very moving story!

Reply

Caron January 14, 2015 at 4:52 pm

I thought it was very moving Robert that’s why I asked Tony if I could share it. It took me almost 4 hours to compose the piece but I think it looks great and shows off his artwork well.The story just shares how little by little dementia strips you of your independence and ability to function. I hope it will also help to raise awareness of the disease.

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