Reviews

With You

With You

The Mary Potter Hospice Story

Random House NZ, 2014

  • With You is a treasure and a treasury, written to celebrate 100 years of the Little Company of Mary in Aotearoa and 35 years of Mary Potter Hospice. Four golden threads hold together this variety of stories: the openness and courage, immense generosity and fidelity of the sisters of the Little Company of Mary; the willingness of people from many walks of life to recognise and respond to the “signs of the times”; the creative energy of Wellingtonians; and the power of “community”: the new life that is generated when people of like mind dare to share a vision and commit to making it a reality — for the good of all.

    With You is a series of stories. It is like listening to members of an extended family telling and re-telling the story of a longed for pregnancy, miraculous birth and the coming of age of a favourite child — LCM Sisters, medical specialists, financial advisers, people in high positions, people on the street, all had their own part to play. It is a multi-layered book, filled with memories and impressions of ordinary/extraordinary New Zealanders, who have given enormous amounts of time, professional expertise, commitment and love to Mary Potter Hospice. Some stories are in-depth analyses which provide the framework for the whole; while others are light brush strokes. Each has its place and is told with care. Volunteer drivers, gardeners, spiritual carers, fundraisers and networkers walk easily alongside highly skilled care-givers and professional medical and administration staff.

    Mary Potter Hospice is not a place or a building. It is a living, growing, compassionate entity which provides care for individuals and families who are walking the last part of life’s journey — themselves or alongside a loved one. Another important layer records the parallel developments of Hospice New Zealand and the gradual recognition of palliative care as a branch of medicine in its own right. Mary Potter Hospice has played a key leadership, educative and research role in both developments.

    Author Bee Dawson invites readers to engage with the whole Mary Potter Hospice enterprise and the individuals who give it life. Superb photographs by Chris Coad enhance the text.

    In content and appearance With You is an inspiring and very beautiful book.’

    Judith McGinley in Tui Motu InterIslands Magazine, February 2015.

  • ‘Bucket-list queen is what former Mary Potter Hospice nurse Mary Death calls herself.

    One of her dying patients, a young mountaineer, yearned for one last trip to the Southern Alps but was too sick so she transformed the courtyard outside his Wellington hospice room into a winter wonderland with tons of shaved ice from a local fish market and fairy lights in the trees.

    “When all was ready, his wife pulled back his curtains and opened the door and – whoosh – we pushed an avalanche of ice right into the room, all over his carpet.

    “We told him, ‘We couldn’t take you to the mountains so we brought a mountain to you’.”

    The nurses also put ice on his hands and chest to add to his alpine experience.

    “He loved it – and he died about two days later. We did things like that all the time.”

    Death’s poignant story is one of many by those involved in the Wellington hospice included in a new book called With You – The Mary Potter Hospice Story.

    The book marks 100 years since English Catholic nun Mary Potter sent four sisters from her Little Company of Mary to New Zealand to care for the dying.

    Mary Potter Hospice chief executive Ria Earp said the book was commissioned by the religious order as a gift to the hospice and the Wellington community.

    Authored by local writer Bee Dawson, it traverses Mary Potter Hospice’s development in New Zealand, focusing on Wellington, where it opened New Zealand’s first hospice in 1979 at Calvary Hospital.

    Sister Margaret Lancaster had asked the hospital’s leaders in 1974 if the hospital’s Mary Potter ward for the elderly could instead specialise in caring for the terminally ill.

    The hospital agreed and major renovations were carried out before the ward was opened more than four years later.

    Lancaster, whose important contribution is detailed in a chapter, said the book would be a legacy of the Little Company of Mary, which had only 11 sisters surviving nationwide, including three in Wellington.

    “In 20 years, there might not be any of us left,” the 70-year-old registered nurse said.

    The $35 book will be sold at hospice bases and shops.’

    Deirdre Mussen in The Dominion Post, 1 January 2015.

With You – book description