Hospice Is For Mum and Dad
This is the story of our parents, Don and Antonia Barnes (nee Boglio) – ‘one in a million people’. – Written by son, David Barnes.
Dad grew up in small town New Plymouth, while Mum was raised in Milan, the fashion capital of Italy. Their paths crossed at a New Year’s Eve party in London which transpired into a blooming romance. One thing lead to another and they married and moved to the far-away land of New Zealand in the mid-60s, a small country not well known in Italy in those days.
My sister and I had a happy childhood growing up in Auckland and after a life-time of moving around, our parents retired to the Bay in 1999. By this time our family unit had grown and our parents became devoted grandparents to Diva, Massimo and Lily – the joys of their lives. Fast-forwarding, our family life was shattered by our mother’s diagnosis with esophagus cancer in 2016 and then Dad shortly after, with brain cancer in early 2019.
“Hospice was a god-send. Both our parents were terminally ill and were referred to Waipuna Hospice for support. It was a great comfort to us that Waipuna was as much there for the families of patients as they were for the patients themselves.”
Hospice is not about dying – but about living. We immediately recognised Waipuna Hospice as a deeply caring and compassionate community that affirmed the importance of life. Waipuna’s focus is on enabling patients and their families to enjoy the best quality of life together for as long as possible.
Mum was treated at home and received regular nurse visits, pain management, care and moral support that came from having kind nurses drop by for a chat. Waipuna also coordinated district health nurse care. Mum was a kind and warm-hearted Italian. She loved having people in her home and Waipuna staff became part of her life, sharing her memories, fears and the difficulties of dealing with cancer. Waipuna Hospice became a source of stability which enabled us to cope with the distress, uncertainty and constant ‘shifting sands’ that are part of cancer life. Mum chose to spend her final hours at Waipuna Hospice. Her passing was merciful and made dignified by the staff. It was comfortable for all of us.
Dad survived only three months after his diagnosis but Waipuna Hospice ensured his care was well organised, safe and comfortable. He loved telling stories about his life, career and adventures. Dad suffered a lot from anxiety at the end of his life.
“Waipuna staff listened and helped our father be as peaceful with his situation as possible. They made him feel there was a caring community behind him and he was not alone with his illness.”
As a couple, our parents were hospitable people and had an easy manner. Mum’s exquisite yet simple cooking was well loved by friends and family. People were always coming over for lunch and dinner. She was also a talented knitter, often giving away knitted items to charities and for fundraisers. Mum knitted a colourful blanket during her final six months. She continued to create and find beauty in life until the end. They were involved with Lions, Rotary, church and they hosted and visited people around the world through the International Friendship Force. Dad was an IT wizard (not so common for a man of his generation) and at the drop of a hat would go help neighbours with their computer issues. Everywhere they lived, Dad would be asked to be the Chair of some sort of community group.
I’m so grateful to Waipuna Hospice for the grief counselling I received after both Mum and Dad passed. We are grateful to have been their children. We expected them to live longer as they were both very healthy until their final years. But both had lives that were well lived. That is what really counts. In turn, we are truly grateful to Waipuna Hospice for the support it gave our family, and probably thousands of other families.
Waipuna Hospice would like to say thank you to David Barnes for sharing his, and his parents’ story with us. If you would like to share your story please click here.
This story was first published in our newsletter – Waipuna Connections, issue 74.
If you need support and are a Waipuna Hospice patient or family member, please call us on 07 552 4380 – our counsellors are available to you Monday – Friday, excluding public holidays. Alternatively, if you aren’t a Waipuna Hospice patient or family member and need support, you can free-call or text 1737. 1737 is a free service for anyone who needs to talk to a counsellor, and it’s open 24/7.