Patricia was only 16 and Bill 21 when they met, but after only two weeks Bill knew that she was the girl for him.
“It was quite a long courtship because her parents wanted her to be older before we got married, but we were happily married for 56 years,” said Bill.
Like many young couples of the time, they started out with little. “We had a bed, a table and chairs, two occasional chairs, a coffee table and lamp. That was all we had. Oh, and a heater. We got two irons for wedding presents and managed to trade one for a toaster!”
They built a house in Paparangi and three children arrived in the first few years, and since then there have been six grandchildren. And there was a lot of travel.
“Patricia loved travel and we did a lot of overseas trips. She was an amazing organiser and organised our trips online herself. We bought a fridge magnet for every place we visited. Accommodation, flights, shows in London, internal travel – everything. I was the ATM and the driver,” Bill jokes.
In April last year, Patricia had a fall and broke her humerus. Then in July, doctors diagnosed cancer.
“It was a blow to both of us. I have a funny feeling that she hadn’t felt completely 100% well for some time but she never complained, never.” Bill continued to look after Patricia at home, juggling hospital appointments and eventually doing everything for her, day and night.
“I had struggled on for about 7 months. I asked myself once if I had to do this for the next 10 years could I do it? The answer was an immediate yes. But the doctor finally said, there are two options – the hospital or the Hospice. Make a choice.”
Patricia went in to the Mary Potter Hospice Inpatient Unit in Newtown at the beginning of Nov 2021, and was there for just over three weeks. “After the first week I was approached by one of the nursing staff. She said ‘Bill, I want you come and live in.’ So I did, and was there for two weeks sleeping in Patricia’s room.
“I can’t say enough about the staff. They are so gentle, so kind and they anticipate what you need.
Bill says he found the chapel was a comfort. “I met with the spiritual carers. I think they were preparing me for the inevitable. I babbled on a bit, but they encouraged me to talk. I found them very, very supportive.”
Bill says he owes Mary Potter Hospice a huge debt of gratitude. “The first thing you notice at the Hospice is it’s peaceful. Every so often there’s an outbreak of laughter, and people obviously enjoying their work. You get a sense of peace there, with the world shut out.
“I always thought we would grow old and doddery together. But it wasn’t to be.” Patricia died at 76, 60 years after Bill first decided that she was the girl for him.
Please help us be there for families like Bill’s.
Thanks to your help, every year we’re able to care for over 900 husbands and wives, sisters and brothers, sons and daughters, whānau, partners, friends, neighbours and colleagues in Wellington, Porirua and Kāpiti.
While the care and support we provide is free-of-charge to our patients, it does cost us to provide it. Only 44% of the funding we need comes from Government, and some services such as our Enhanced Hospice at Home service, which provides home-based hospice care after hours and on weekends, receive no Government funding whatsoever.
That’s why we need your help. We rely on the generosity of people like you to ensure that our care is always there – when and where our patients need it most. Please help your local Hospice and support Mary Potter’s Appeal this May.