While I was working as an AIN at the War Veterans Viallage in Narrabeen, where I had been working while starting and finishing my BA of Nursing, I met a wonderful man named Max Whitehead.
I remember I was on work placement at the time and on my return he had arrived at the village because the place he was staying in had been shut down. On my return I remember some fellow co workers saying to me “There is a new man in room 8, he won’t shower, he won’t wash and he won’t do anything”. That morning room 8 was in the section I had been placed. I knocked on the door, no answer, so with my key i opened the door and there was a man laying in the bed. I said come on up you get time for a shower. He ignored me. I said in a louder voice I’ll be back in 15 minutes and you have to be up and ready for the day. Still no answer.
I continued on with my work then went back. Max had pulled the sheets over his head. I pulled them off and said “Up you get”. He looked at me and said “I haven’t seen you before”. I said no, and you must get in the shower. I noticed he had lots of Manly clothes and hangings of him around the room with the team and posters etc..
I finally dragged him out of bed and assisted him into the shower. I still remember when helping him take his underwear off he said “Mother always told me about girls like you (with a wink)”. From then on I knew we formed a bond. Max would only shower the days I was there and when I helped him.
As Christmas time approached I noticed he was going to be one of few residents that would be at the home on Xmas day. He had no family and very few visitors. This upset me. So in 2009 I took him home to enjoy a family Christmas with my family. He loved it. I slowly learnt more about this great man and realised who he was. He would just sit in his room most days a depressed man and smoke cigarettes. I would take him out to lunches and on bus trips but he would only go when I went. Even on days off I would go and visit him and take him out. We formed a beautiful friendship. I knew how much Max loved his football and especially Manly so I contacted the club and got him season tickets and I took him to each home game.. He loved this and it really made him excited when we went out.
My dear Maxy was not well and ended up in MONA Vale hospital in Febuary of 2010. I visited every day, took his clothes home to wash and spent day and night with him. Lucky I had a good boss and was also studying to sit my exams. When in the hospital he fell out of bed and broke his hip (worst day). The next day they took him to OT and anaesthetised him then an emergency came in and they woke him back up again with no operation completed. Again the next day they took him back and this time operated on him. It was agonising watching him in so much pain.
After surgery for 2 days he was doing well. The. They say he aspirated on some food leading it to end up on his lungs causing pneumonia. When told this I knew Max had an uphill battle but I believed he was strong.
I sat with him day and night and eventually I was told that the outcome was not looking good and Maxs time was limited. This was so hard to take. I did not leave his side from that moment on. I had a bed in his room that the nurses set up for me. He fought for a week. It was so hard watching him slowly die, not being fed, not drinking and barely conscious, in the end chain stoking his breaths.
I just keep saying you must fight my Maxy, I love you, your a strong man who was a front rower. At 7am on 28th March Max turned to me and said “I love you”. He had not spoken for a week.. Those words I will cherish forever. At 7:10am he took his last breath.
His funeral was April 7th 2010, with over 1000 people attending. Including current players, ex players, officials and of course Max Delmege.
It was at the wake of my dear friend that Max Delmege introduced himself to me. I again had no idea who he was. He came up, shook my hand and said “Hi I’m Max Delmege” I shook back and said “Hi I’m Sam Green and I have no idea who you are because I am a Souths supporter”.
We started chatting and spoke about where we grew up which ironically was a few streets apart in Maroubra and many other conversations.
This was the beginning of what I thought was another great friendship forming, little did I know that by the December of 2010 we would be Boyfriend and Girlfriend.
And so the story continues…….
God bless Max Whitehead my dear friend and may his beautiful soul Rest in Peace. He is forever in my thoughts, heart, prayers and dreams. A wonderful man who I was fortunate enough to meet. I believe he had a say in where I am now and who I am with. I believe he saw a great man in Max Delmege just like I did…