Mary's Story: 100 Reasons to Turn the Tables

RDNS New Zealand

Some days, centenarian Mrs Mary Francis manages to turn the tables on her RDNS support workers. By the time they arrive to help her she has made her bed, washed up and ensured her little unit is spick and span.

That’s not all, says Krystan Tan, who has been looking after Mary for two years. “Not only do we find that she has done all the tidying she is bouncing around raring to go. She is so funny.  She has an amazing sense of humour so we spend much of the day laughing.”

Mrs Francis is one of RDNS New Zealand’s 900 Auckland District Health Board clients. She celebrated her 100th birthday in July with friends and family at a local restaurant – an event which found its way into the pages of the local paper.

Ask her how many in her family and the rattling laugh starts again as she runs out of fingers and the adding up is abandoned. Her wit is razor sharp, her retorts super rapid. The only hint of sadness is the revelation that she has outlived her husband Charles and all of her six children but the family lineage will endure with an abundance of great and even great-great grandchildren.

She loves the help afforded her by RDNS but equally likes to do as much as she can around the house. “If you keep doing things and using your brain you live longer,” she says philosophically.  

She is close to her grandson, Mark Roiall a well known former rugby league player and respected NZ sport store owner. Mark, his wife Lin’e and children Raymond and Anakalili drop by frequently with treats.

“The RDNS team is fantastic,” says Mark. “Quite simply their visits provide peace of mind. Mary loves the contact. She makes them a cuppa when they come. And the best thing is that Mary gets to stay in her own home which she is so proud of.

“Tell you what,” says Mark with a wink and in conspiratorial whisper. “I’d get the biggest hiding if I were to tell her she was going into a nursing home.”

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