Stories on death and dying…
My mum died in 2014 and before she passed, she called all the family together, she knew she was going to go. All them old ones know when their time is coming, they still have a strong connection with the spirits and the land. They get the warnings and the sights that time is coming to a close.
When my mum was calling all of us together, we knew it was serious so we all made sure we got back to ….. back to country to see her off. Mums family were there, my auny and uncle, the only ones left of mums sisters and brothers. All us kids and the cousins and the grandchildren. We made the biggest mob. We all spent time up there with mum, some times the hospital would let one of us stay over night, some of them understood it was near her (mum) time and they were caring. Some wouldn’t let us stay and would get angry when we were there, it’s not like the other families weren’t doing it too. We thought it wouldn’t be a problem, lot of old people there and many white families spending time with their family. Sometimes there would be up to twenty people there to see someone before they died, the hospital let them do that.
Time was short and we had to get everyone to visit mum at least once and we wanted to have everyone there together for a visit. We talked to one of the staff and told them, she said it would be fine and that if the family was too big, she would move mum to a room alone or outside so we could all fit. That Sunday was nice and warm, it was sunny and we all went up to the hospital, biggest line of cars going through town. Me and my husband, my brother and his wife went in first. We spoke to someone and told them that we wanted to spend time with mum and that we had all the family here. She came with us to mum and she asked mum if she wanted to go to the garden, it was all fine, mum was being helped into a chair and we went out. Mum was happy to be outside, she wanted to put her feet on the ground, just to feel it, she was sick of being in a bed all the time. Before this cancer took her she was always outside walkingin the yard, going with family and friends to the bush.
We were all having a good time, mum was having a good time enjoying being around everyone again, she was kissing everyone, laughing and hugging and cuddling all the babies in the family, it was lovely watching her be happy for a while. This man starts yelling at us to get out of the garden and telling us we were ruining his hedges and roses, I swear we were no where near them. He is saying that we are trespassing, I tell him that we weren’t. My brother ….., heads to him, saying that our mum was a patient and we had permission to be in the garden. This man still yelling shouts that he is the gardener and that we weren’t allowed to be there. ( Brother) tells him again that we are allowed to be there, we are no different to the other families that come into the gardens, my husband …… goes in to get the staff member who brought mum out. This man just keeps yelling and yelling, we got the younger kids to come around mum, they didn’t need to hear this angry man. The younger ones in the family start yelling back at him, I was telling them to shut up, that just makes things bad and that we don’t want an argument, and that we don’t want to ruin mum’s day.
….(husband) comes back with that woman, and she says that yes we are allowed to be here. No this gardener getting closer to us and he was right up in ….(brother) face telling him to get out and stay out. He tells the woman, that we had been pulling up flowers and we let the kids run around unsupervised and they had damaged the roses and had put holes in the hedging. The woman says to us, watch the kids and turns to him and says, they will watch the kids from now on and that kids probably didn’t mean any harm. No good this man then yelling at her says that we have to get out of the garden or he will put the sprinkler on us. My son …. says this is bullshit and that the man is racist, and yells at him to get off Aboriginal land. All this is happening, while my mum, is sitting there, trying to enjoy her family in her last days. That gardener then calls us a pack of coons, calls one of the men a gin jockey. Well I had enough, I said we are taking mum back inside, so with my aunty and uncle I take mum back into the building, everyone starts to follow, the woman from the hospital takes us to a family room, so we can continue spending time with mum as a family.
I was determined that this wasn’t going to spoil our time. Everyone was talking about the gardener being crazy or a racist or a crazy racist. But never mind him I was saying lets just be a family. We sang some songs that mum loved and taught us, like pearly shells. The little kids sang songs and performed for her, doing Beyonce and things like that, it was funny. My nephew …. went out to the car to get his guitar and when he came back he was fuming, he told us that a couple of small family groups and some old people were out in the gardens and the gardener wasn’t telling them off. This made everyone angry, even mum wanted to get up and have a go at the gardener. (Nephew) and (son) went to find someone to ask about this, they kept saying it was racist, they came back with the same woman and we said that was wrong, that mum couldn’t enjoy her family outside, just because she was black.
Typical white woman, she said it wasn’t racist, so the boys asked her to prove it, they said go talk to the families outside, see if they were told to go, ask other staff if he had said anything and talk to the gardener. I don’t think she wanted to, but everyone said they would tell the media and we would take them to court. When she came back she was looking shame. The boys demanded to know what she found out, they were angry, but don’t think they threatened her, they are just educated black men, who know their rights. She said the gardener didn’t tell anyone else to go and that he wasn’t around. We got her name and the gardeners name, we told her that we wanted the big bosses name and that we would be back early tomorrow to talk about this.
We complained to the manager and he said he would investigate it. We said that mum was an old woman, she shouldn’t have to put up with no respect and trouble when she was just trying to be with family. We stayed with mum all the time then, round the clock, they weren’t going to stop us or get angry at us, I don’t think they were game enough. It’s a shame that a black woman can’t even die in peace, racists have to ruin that too. Mum passed a couple of days later, its just not right.