Remembering Jo’s dad at Christmas

Jo’s father John, who died in November 2021, was cared for by Martlets at home and on our inpatient unit. Jo talks about the care he received and how she and her family will be remembering him this Christmas. Jo will also be running the Brighton Half Marathon this coming February to fundraise for Martlets in memory of her dad.

In November 2021, I lost my dear father to an aggressive form of terminal lung cancer called Mesothelioma. It was caused by asbestos exposure in the 70s when he ran his own building company. My father was 83 when he died, he had always been fit and healthy, he had never been in hospital, he had a personal trainer and worked out regularly. He was diagnosed in June 2021 and passed away in November at Martlets Hospice.

This Christmas will be our second Christmas without Dad, the first was so close to his death so it a bit of blur. Once again it will be so emotional, but we’ll remember him in so many ways.

Dad was a very active member of the Brighton Rotary Club. He coordinated most of their Christmas fundraising every single year for as long as I can remember. He would drive a sleigh around the streets of Brighton and Hove for hours for every winter. Whatever the weather, he was out there raising money for Rotary charities (which included Martlets). He loved seeing the joy that it brought to so many families in the area to see Santa come to their house.

My father was quite a traditional man but at Christmas he would love getting into the spirit and making everyone around him laugh. Every year he would dress up in a Father Christmas costume for me and my sister, and later his grandkids – usually after some champagne! He would pretend to be Father Christmas, shouting out ‘Ho Ho Ho’, handing out the presents, and giving everyone Santa hugs. It was so lovely. Christmas day just won’t be the same without our very own Santa.

Jo, her sister and dad at Christmas

My dad wore a shirt and navy tie every single day, without fail. He was once given a navy tie with small Santas on as a Christmas present. Well, that was it, every year the tie would come out. It had a button on that you pressed to play ‘Jingle Bells’. He would casually sit at the end of the dining table ‘accidentally’ leaning against it, setting it off over and over again. The tie lasted probably 20 years or more, and the joke never grew old.

The team at Martlets were simply amazing. From the moment my dad was taken into the hospice, they welcomed us all with open arms and with so much respect, kindness, and care.

Over the course of his illness, we were supported by the incredible team at Martlets. They provided us with support at home including a hospital bed, reclining chair, bathroom aids and night-time nursing. Eventually, Dad was admitted to Martlets’ inpatient unit for his final few days. This is where he passed away peacefully and with so much dignity. Despite the sadness, he had the most beautiful and special send off from this world. I wouldn’t describe myself as a religious person, but I have always said that in my opinion the Martlets is ‘a gateway to heaven run by angels’. It is such a special place, run by simply incredible and compassionate people.

Sadly, my lovely mum has Alzheimer’s and was unable to process or understand what was happening. My sister and I dropped everything to care for them both over the last few months of our dad’s life. I’ll never forget watching my dad leave his home for the final time to go into Martlets and trying to gently explain to my mum that he wouldn’t be home for dinner that evening (she had laid a place at the table for him). Two days later we had to explain to her that he had died. That was pretty tough.

Jo and her Dad smiling together

I’ve never been sporty or athletic but pounding the pavements has kept me physically fit and mentally strong during the toughest 18 months of my life.

In the months following my father’s death, we were faced with even more challenges. Over the last year I’ve personally had to dig very deep to stay strong. There have been times where I’ve felt so overwhelmed and could feel my mental health starting to suffer. So, I turned to running. I invested in a new pair of running shoes and put together an awesome feel-good play list.

I’ve never entered a charity run before, so this half marathon is quite a challenge for me. This run, in my hometown of Brighton & Hove, is dedicated to so many people and of course to my incredible dad John. So please support me if you can!

For more information about the Brighton Half Marathon please see our Enthuse Take Part page. If you would like to support Jo in her fundraising challenge, you are welcome to make a donation on her JustGiving page.

If you wish to take on a fundraising challenge in memory of a loved one please see our Take Part page. We have a range of different events taking place in 2023 including marathons, bike rides and our Camino Trek Challenge.

If you can please give to help keep Martlets caring this Christmas.


Published 29/11/2022