At some time during the four years we spent living in Johannesburg Mum took up private nursing. This meant she could be more flexible in how she was able to spend time with us. Most of her work was done at night for very ill patients who wanted to die at home but needed round the clock medical care.
This was the time when Rosie and her baby came to live with us. She sometimes walked us from school, helped mom with cooking and cleaning and made bright colourful dresses sitting in the breakfast room using the singer sewing machine with an electric pedal.
Mrs Cole was one of Mum’s patients who although very unwell with ovarian cancer took an interest in Mum’s family namely us. Every Friday Mum would come home with a poppy seed pie. A taste we learned to like as it was foreign to us. She also had large bottles of rose smelling body cream delivered to us once a month from her son Len Cole’s factory. This delivery continued until we left S.A. Mum was also given clothes for us. I remember one particular striped dress with a belt which I wore out rather than grew out of. The small tortoise I place next to my arrangements also came from this lady.
Mum was much loved and appreciated by her patients but it was Mrs Cole’s path that Mum was to follow in 2005. On the day of her 51st wedding anniversary the 14 November with just a check up for ulcerative colitis she was told she had four months to live. Roy and I flew out to her immediately and with my sister and her husband, took her to Cape Town where we got her the best help possible. However, it was too late and she passed away 3 April 2005. Her final month was in a hospice where the nurses called her one of their own and in many ways Mum ministered to them, listening to their painful stories as they looked after her physical pain. Shelly and I know this as all of that month was spent by us with her. My sister doing the larger amount.