Michael was born in the Vauxhall area of Liverpool in 1944. He was the youngest of five children, with three sisters and one brother. They all lived together with their parents in a small terraced house with no hot water or inside toilet. We sat down with Michael’s nephew, Peter Hall, who has kindly shared Michael’s story.
Michael spent his adult life as a bookmaker, which gave him to opportunity to travel extensively, working at horseracing fixtures across Great Britain and Europe. While Michael’s brother and sisters all married and had children, Michael stayed living with his parents in the family home and never married, but he was a fantastic uncle to his 14 nieces and nephews.
Peter recalls how kind Michael was to all his nieces and nephews, “He was a very generous and affectionate uncle, always giving us treats and gifts. He had lots of friends and was very sociable. He loved taking part in the pub quiz and he also played in the local cribbage team.”
After his parents passed away, Michael moved in to his own bungalow and was very happy there. “Our family all live in the Liverpool area so we have always been very close and see each other regularly. When Michael became ill, just before the pandemic, we all wanted to help. He underwent lots of tests and was in and out of hospital for some time.”
Eventually, Michael was diagnosed with colon cancer and was admitted to the Royal Liverpool Hospital. Due to the pandemic, he was then moved to St. Helen’s Hospital where sadly, because of Covid restrictions, his family weren’t able to visit him. After ten weeks in hospital, Michael was discharged home and his sister (Peter’s mum), Ann, spent a lot of time looking after him.
“We all helped out cooking meals for him once he was back home. He then started chemotherapy and was taking taxis back and forth to the hospital. He was fiercely independent and used to say that he hated being a burden on us but it was far from it. We all really wanted to help.”
Michael lost his two oldest sisters, Deborah and Marie, several years ago but, sadly, in December 2021, his brother, Peter, passed away. Michael was proud to have been able to go, along with the rest of his family, to scatter his brother’s ashes in the River Mersey.
Throughout 2022, Michael’s condition started to deteriorate but he was very glad to have been able to spend some time with his sister, Ann, who had also become very ill. Sadly, Peter’s mum, and Michael’s only remaining sibling, passed away in June 2022 following a short battle with cancer.
Peter continued to visit Michael at his home every day until one morning Michael was very poorly. Peter called the doctors repeatedly and eventually the doctor came out to see him. Michael was admitted to Aintree Hospital but was in so much pain and they struggled to settle him on the right medication to ease his symptoms.
“Woodlands Hospice had been mentioned in previous consultations but this was no longer the right place for Michael and it was at this point that someone mentioned St. Joseph’s Hospice. Thankfully, a bed became available within days and Michael moved to St. Joseph’s Hospice in October 2022.
“Michael was really happy to go to the hospice and loved it from the moment he arrived. The weight just lifted off our shoulders. After the busy hospital ward, it was such a peaceful, calm environment. He loved watching the wildlife in the gardens and developed a really good relationship with all the staff and they spent lots of time talking to him about all sorts of things.
“One of his oldest friends, Tony, visited him every day and my wife bought him a big blanket which he loved wrapping up in. We had lots of laughs and he loved the food too.”
During this time, Michael’s family gathered to scatter his sister Ann’s ashes from a ferry on the River Mersey. Peter said: “Unfortunately, Michael was too poorly to join us in person when we said our final farewell to my mum, but he was able to join us via a video call from his bed at the hospice which meant a lot to him.”
While Michael was at the hospice, Jan, the hospice’s family support worker, helped Peter to sort Michael’s affairs, “He didn’t have a Will and we needed to arrange Power of Attorney. These were all very complex matters but thankfully we managed to sort it all out with Jan’s help and support”.
Michael passed away on 14th November 2022. Peter added, “It amazed me how upset the nurses and carers were when he passed away. They told me that it was a huge privilege to care for him, which really meant a lot."
Michael’s family plan to scatter his ashes in the spring, just as he wished, by taking a ferry across the Mersey.