Beryl and Jim’s story

Jim and I have been together now for 30 years – we’ve been married for three of these years which amuses a lot of people but I just told Jim that I wanted to get married. Jim’s response was: “Well, ok then.” 

Before Jim was diagnosed in 2011, I started to notice the little things. Jim retired before me but sometimes he would come and meet me for lunch. One day when he was leaving he asked where he had to go to get home. I just laughed and said: “Down that road and through the subway. “Oh, yes”, he said. I didn‘t think much of it at the time until other things happened. Jim started to see things which just weren’t there and one time he went missing on a ferry when we were on holiday. 

We’ve been on some lovely holidays with family and friends; to Lake Garda, Croatia. Jim however doesn’t remember any of these and I know we won’t be going on holiday together ever againHowever, it’s important for us to focus on the things which we can still do. We both love dancing and some days we put the music on and just dance around the room. It gives him a lot of pleasure, and me too.

Beryl and Jim on their wedding day

Connected to our love of dance is his love of music. He can forget what happened ten minutes ago but the words of a song he never forgets. His one song is ‘That Lucky Old Sun. When we’re at the Forget Me Not club, he sings a solo but forgets that he has already sung it and then sings it again – three times. 

It’s a 24/7 day when I’m caring for Jim but sometimes it feels like 48/7. This lockdown has been very upsetting for both of us. Jim doesn’t understand what it is all about no matter how many times I try and explain it to him. 

Prior to the lockdown, I had made some lovely friends in the clubs we go to and boy do you need these clubs – you just don’t realise how much they help you at the timeWhen lockdown was first announced, I made up my mind. I was going to phone up three people, whether that be friends or family. I just wanted to have a chat and laugh; ask them to tell me what they’ve been doingI find it really refreshing to just chat to people. 

My Admiral Nurse Tracey is one of those people; she listens, she understands and she cares. She says that we can always phone her up, and I have done so. I’m so grateful that she has been supporting me and Jim for the last three years. As Jim’s dementia is progressing, it’s so important that I have Tracey to support me so that I can continue to care for Jim.         

One day, Jim and I were just sitting quietly in the conservatory. He turned to me and said: “Bez, you’ll always look after me won’t you?” I had to stop and think about this one. I said: “Jim, I will look after you as long as I can.” I love him and always will, but there is no denying that life is really tough right now.    

Jim sadly passed away in September 2020.

Find out more about Beryl and Jim in their video here.

(Beryl was interviewed on BBC Coventry and Warwickshire on 5th May 2020. Parts of that interview have been included within this story)