Karoonda man Mervyn Size lost battle with Alzheimer's

Karoonda man Mervyn Size left a hole in the heart of the Mallee when he lost his battle with Alzheimer’s disease last year.

Just three months on from losing her husband, Margaret Size reflects on her 54 years with the father of her children.

The pair met when Merv moved to Wynarka in 1957 and they were married on January 19, 1964.

They spent the first 10 years of their marriage at Borrika before moving to their home of 44 years in Karoonda.

For 46 years, Merv drove hundreds of Mallee kids to and from Karoonda Area School.

Margaret said Merv’s biggest impact on the community was through his music.

“He played his trumpet all around the district, he taught music at the school and played the bugle at the ANZAC Day services for 53 years,” she said.

Margaret described Merv as a man of integrity, a brilliant musician, and an exceptionally good father. 

He was a business owner, a road worker and a bus driver, but music was Merv’s first love.

“I would always joke that it was music first, and me second,” Margaret said. “Music was his life; it was what he did and who he was.”

Just four years ago, Merv was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease.

“It (Alzheimer’s) is the most insidious disease… you do feel like you lose them a bit” Margaret said.

“It is one of the most isolating things for the family… you end up not being able to have an adult conversation.”

For Margaret, the hardest part was Merv’s inability to recognise his family.

“He always knew me, but not the kids so I’d leave photos out with names next to them to help him remember,” she said.

“The two grandkids that lived here in Karoonda accepted him at every stage of the illness; they were by his side for it all.”

Even in his darkest moments, music helped.

“I’d put a music dvd on and he’d sit there and watch and clap… it certainly soothed him,” Margaret said.

“He was trapped in that horrible mind set… sometimes I just wanted to be inside his head but it would have been so frustrating.”

Merv passed away on Sunday, November 13.

Following his death, the District Council of Karoonda East Murray donated $100 to Alzheimer's Australia.