Palliative Care NSW Volunteer Support Services Programme
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A great seamstress – stories from Palliative Care Volunteers in NSW

During National Palliative Care Week 2017 we are sharing stories from palliative care volunteers in NSW, collated by editor and palliative care biographer Ros Bradley over the last couple of months.

Ros asked volunteers if they would share an inspirational moment, a story of resilience, a transforming experience, a special poem, text, image or piece of music.

Along the way she spoke to some 60 of the 1,600 or so palliative care volunteers around the state, with 21 of them sending her contributions that gave us unique insights into their experiences, inspirations and inner life as volunteers.

Here is one of the stories. Thank you to all the volunteers who contributed.

A great seamstress (by Maria)

I had been asked to sit with a patient who was in the throes of delirium.  This poor lady was determined to get out of bed and go home but was actually very frail and exhausting herself.  It was obvious in the times when she lay back down that she was not living in the same world as the rest of us and was communicating with people we could not see.

Her confusion was distressing to watch but it was when she started making sewing movements with her hands, bunching and smoothing the blankets and pulling invisible threads through the air that I realised she, like my Mum was a great seamstress and in her mind’s eye she was sewing.  My Mum had made the same movements in her last days and the only comfort was to reassure her that everything was going well and as she became agitated to advise her to lay back and rest her eyes so she could see to sew properly again.

After an hour and a half I had to leave and when I said goodbye this beautiful lady sat up again but it was so she could kiss me goodbye and I kissed her cheek.  I knew it wasn’t really me she was seeing but some loved one of her own.  My tears finally came In the car on the way home then suddenly I felt that my Mum had sent me that kiss as once in her agitation she had refused to kiss me goodbye and I was so grateful for that experience, fanciful though it may be.

Pic: Maria

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