It’s hard not to shed a tear when listening to James ‘Jim’ Wells talk about his wife of almost seven decades. He lost his beloved ‘Junie’ to dementia 12 months ago, and the grief is understandably raw.
“She stood beside me for nearly 70 years…never put a foot wrong. She was an energetic and hardworking person all her life. She lived for her family. Dementia brought such a contrast…”
Jim becomes emotional when recounting the day he realised he could no longer care for June at home – the physical demands had become impossible. He reluctantly turned to VMCH Corpus Christi aged care residence in Clayton – which became June’s home for the last six months of her life.
“It was a tragic time for us. There were a few incidents and it came to crisis point and we had to put her into care. I had the erroneous view that nobody could do it better than me… but it got too much.”
Jim said he chose VMCH because of it’s Catholic values. “That was important to me. They (staff) really fulfilled all of our expectations. They cared for her so well and I admired that.”
His daughter Pauline said: “They’re (staff) so busy but they found the time to bring us comfort when Mum was dying, from bringing cups of tea, to playing music and saying the rosary. We weren’t expecting anything like that.”
Jim and his family were so impressed with the care their wife and mother received they chose to donate part of their Bond interest back to VMCH to help support other seniors at Corpus Christi.
“They are beautiful people down there doing a marvellous job. They made such a contribution to our time and are making a similar contribution to all the others (residents),” Jim said. “I’d like to encourage other people and their families being helped to make a contribution – I think people maybe don’t know they have that option.”
As the first anniversary of June’s death approaches, Jim likes to remember his wife as the young woman he fell in love with, who blossomed into a “matriarch” of their family of five children, 14 grandchildren, and 12 great-grandchildren.
June was also a keen and talented gardener. Jim recounts passers-by complimenting them on the “best garden in the street”. However as June’s care needs deepened, the garden became neglected; a sad reminder of what dementia had stolen and a low-priority on Jim’s list of chores.
Recently, Jim has begun to tend to the garden and it’s showing signs of life. Though it may never return to it’s former glory without June’s green thumb – the annuals beginning to peek out for spring reflect his determination to carry on his wife’s legacy.
Jim has submitted a beautifully-written and deeply moving piece about his wife’s illness and subsequent transition into aged care. If you would like to read it, please call Sandra Rosano on 9926 2407 to have a copy posted out.
Q & A with VMCH Grants & Bequest Officer, Sandra Rosano
1. Describe your role at VMCH?
My role is varied, but essentially it involves listening to our valued supporters and always ensuring that funds, donated by living donors or by way of Trusts or Bequests in Wills, support VMCH with respect to the donor’s intentions. The best part of my role here at VMCH is when I meet people, like Jim, and I feel privileged when they share their stories with me.
2. Why are donations to VMCH so valued?
When people like Jim donate to our organisation, it validates the work VMCH is doing. People like Jim, through their donation, are saying ‘thank you’ and are helping us to look after more people and to provide better care, programs and facilities.
3. How can people donate if they’re moved to help?
Via our website, through appeals received in the mail, or by calling me directly on 9926 2407 (Monday, Wednesday and Thursday).
INCLUDE A CHARITY WEEK
September, 11 -17 is Include a Charity Week, aimed at encouraging and educating people to leave a gift in their Will once their family and friends have been provided for. To coincide with this week, VMCH will host a special Fawkner Fellowship luncheon on Thursday, September 16 at St Joseph’s Mews in Hawthorn. The Fellowship aims to acknowledge and thank loyal supporters who have decided to leave a gift to VMCH in their Will, or who are considering this decision.