It is with great sadness that I have to tell you my Dad passed away on Saturday 9th February after a 12 year battle with PSP. What a fighter. I wanted to share this with you, I read it at his funeral on Thursday. If I can be of any help and support to anyone who is affected by PSP please do not hesitate to get in touch - now more than ever I want to fight PSP.
I’ve left this to the last minute. I was hoping that today just simply wouldn't come. I thought perhaps we could just skip today because it was never meant to happen like this, we were not meant to have to say goodbye to him so soon.
I liked my Dad from the beginning; I found in him a connection, a bond that went beyond our blood ties. As a child I felt as if he were my partner in crime; it was me and him against the world (and Mum, especially when she had said no to something!). When I told him that I had two imaginary friends who lived in the clock – he encouraged me to use my imagination to bring them to life, he never laughed or told me they did not exist – Im sure I heard him talking to them once…. He never complained about having to try on and even purchase his own shoes in our game of shoe shops, he played the part of customer very well and seemed genuinely thrilled when he found a pair that fit – Mum told me this week that when she used to call us for tea he would shout downstairs to her: “Be down in a minute – I just have to buy another pair of shoes!”
To make him laugh was a joy: He laughed so much once on the way back from a restaurant while on holiday in France, that he had to stop the car and wipe the tears from his eyes – we had been making up French names for ourselves, which had obviously tickled him as he laughed all the way home.
No matter what we wanted to do, Dad encouraged us to do it – go for it – why not? There was no dithering around with him – you can make anything happen: go to Uni, buy a house or three in France, open a shop, write books…Crazy ideas we put to him were always met with ‘that’ grin, in other words just bloody do it. Nothing seemed impossible when Dad was involved, even when he started getting ill, he was there in the background, the foundation stone of all our decisions.
Over the years the people who cared for Dad were often amazed that he handled PSP with grace, he never complained and he never forgot his manners, often the only words we would hear for weeks were please and thank you. I call it sheer stubbornness and unshakable will power –which I think is how he managed to walk me down the aisle four years ago, he was so determined to do it; there was no question about it. He even refused to sit during the wedding and held my hand tightly as he managed his part of the ceremony perfectly.
At times, he refused to give in to PSP, and astounded even the professionals. We weren’t surprised though, after all, this is the man who patiently waited for his true love, who taught himself how to play the guitar, who painstakingly built a garden railway himself and who lived with three strong women nearly all his life.
As his illness really took hold we tried to protect him as much as we could from the evil, cruel disease that had rudely interrupted our lives. When we realised that he needed more care we fought to get him the funding he deserved and PSP the recognition amongst Doctors that is still so lacking.
We stuck together and we cared for him together and we fought together – he made us do that. The man he was propelled us into winning just a few of those battles. It was a close run thing, that battle between the Clifton’s and PSP, we landed some significant punches. We will continue to try and raise vital awareness for people who suffer from Progressive Supranuclear Palsy.
I don’t know what happens when you die, I have been struggling with that other the past few weeks but Dad if I could just tell you this where ever you are:
Finley will know his Grandpa, you live on in him.
I gave him some proper food last weekend; I wish you could have seen that.
Those imaginary friends of mine that you loved…. are destined for great things.
I am so proud of you for fighting PSP as much as you did.
I would say thank you. Thank you, thank you, thank you for being my Dad, my best friend, my partner in crime and my hero. I want you to see how strong you have made your girls and that everything we do, whatever we do, we do in your name because we love you. I would like to finish with some special words from one of Dads heroes who was one in a million just like him.
The most wonderful thing about Tiggers,
Is Tiggers are wonderful things,
There tops are made out of rubber,
Their bottoms are made out of springs,
Fun, fun, fun, fun, FUN!!!
The wonderful thing about Tiggers
Is I'm the only one
I'm the only one