10 May 1948 – 14 September 1998
Dear Zoë & Josh,
Perhaps you don’t remember me. I was the palliative care nurse who looked after your mother at home in 1998.
I’ve met (sadly) many people with terminal illness through my work. I don’t remember all of them but I will never forget Hazel Church. I learned so much from the short time I knew her.
Hazel wanted to be at home with her family. She liked the way the other nurses and I always spoke to her as a person, not a nameless patient. She liked things to be explained and she always let me know if she didn’t understand. Other people simply nod, so I always check now if they really do get the point.
Being at home for Hazel meant that she could prepare her children for life without her. It was heartbreaking to think of you two without a mother and your father without his partner but some good has come of it. Hazel made sure of that.
I found it difficult at times to cope with her courage. She never denied the inevitable — death. It was I who was afraid but eventually I learned to face it with her, as you did. I now recognise that courage in other patients and am not afraid any more.
I used all my knowledge and expertise to make Hazel comfortable and to enable Robert & Pat to care for her. I know I did a good job because she told me so. I am grateful for that.
We had a lot of laughs together & she gave me advice about ways of the world. She was easy to tease and appreciated my Irish sense of humour.
I enjoyed my visits to your home and always felt welcomed by you both, always chatty & friendly & interested in what I was doing.
You were privileged to share that time so intimately and we are all better people for having known Hazel.
Have a wonderful life,
Date: Thu, 01 Jan 1970 11:00:00 +0000 (Actually Tues, 14 Mar 2000, exactly 18 months since Hazel died.)
Subject: old fashioned girl
Robert, cheers yeah thanks a lot!
Despite changing my set up many times, I am still years behind. Hope to get Bruce who sold it to me to fix that and a few other things up. That kind of thing would really bug someone like you, I know. It is a nuisance actually because I can’t subscribe to anything. I will try again before I send this email.
Other news: I am doing the MPH at USYD — well, Grad Dip first, then we’ll see. Have also finally met someone. He’s a widower, but I didn’t meet him through work! Michael introduced us on New Year’s Eve — Ian is his cousin. Ian’s wife died just over a year ago and I get terrible feelings sometimes that this is all too soon for him, but we are very happy just now. He’s 37. I know Hazel would be pleased for me. Funny you should email me: I was thinking of letting you know. Do you think I should contact Pat? I’d prefer if she contacted me. Happy St Patrick’s Day (Friday).
Betty was a friend of Hazel’s at the end.