“Tell them you love them every day” is the heartbreaking advice given by a husband who now tenderly applies his wife’s make-up for her, after she suffered a massive stroke over a year ago.
Danny McEvoy, aged 78, now spends most of his day at a nursing home, helping to care for his wife, Joan, also 78, who can no longer talk or eat and is paralysed. She suffered the stroke in December of 2017.
The devoted husband of 58 years applies her make-up and lipstick every day and arranges hairdressers for Joan, who always likes to look her best.
“My life was over that day,” he said.
“We survived the loss of my brother, who died at sea, and the loss of our 19-year-old son, Damien, who died of a heart attack in England. We got through it all together, but I never dreamed that we would end our days like this.
“She suffered a severe stroke and we were told she wouldn’t survive. Our two children, Tony and Denise, were summoned from England, but she pulled through, thankfully.
“She was so outgoing and hugely involved in the community. Now, she can’t talk, walk, eat, or drink and is paralysed on her right side. She can move one hand slightly.
“She needs 24-hour care and has been getting fantastic treatment at Sunhill Nursing Home, in Termonfeckin, where she has to be turned every two hours. I arrive every morning and, after she is showered by staff, I give her a big wave, hug, and kiss and put on her make-up and lipstick.
“But if I’m not doing it right, she’ll grab my finger and I have to get the mirror to let her see it. She was always the boss and is still the boss.
“If I’m talking and not saying something right, the finger will go up to tell me to stop,” he laughs.
He said his life is now very much built around the nursing home.
I visit twice a day and we’ll watch TV together until she falls asleep. I still can’t wait to go and tell her every day all the news that’s happening.
“She got a boost three weeks ago, when we became great-grandparents for the first time. She was really excited about that and loves pointing at pictures of the baby to show visitors.”
The Drogheda father-of-three admits it’s been hard for him since Joan got ill, as she did everything around the house. “I didn’t even have to think. She did it all.”
He urges people to tell family every day that they love them.
“Tell them that you love them every day, because you never, never know.
“We had a great life together and we thought we had everything worked out for our later years. Wills, mortgages, loans, all sorted, but we didn’t think about this one.
“Joan has always been the love of my life. I just wish I could do more for her now.”