A debt lovingly repaid
As Daphne Sowerby watched her husband lose a painful fight with cancer, it ignited a desire to repay the hospice that made his few remaining months bearable.
More than 25 years and $100,000 later, she’s squared the debt.
Sowerby, 87, from Feilding, had known Albert since she was 9. He died in 1991, six months after being diagnosed with inoperable throat and lung cancer, prompting her to knit, craft and bake her grief away.
She watched on as her typically active and animated best friend became bedridden, and suffered the gruelling effects of an incurable disease. Sowerby had reservations about sending Albert to Palmerston North’s Arohanui Hospice, which was still being built as he was admitted.
‘‘We didn’t know too much about hospices back then,’’ she said. ‘‘We thought it was where people go to die, but it’s so much more than that.’’
She quickly became part of the Arohanui Hospice family.
‘‘They treated the family just as they treated the patient, as if you were in distress. I thought that was just wonderful.’’
Her husband’s death hit Sowerby hard. She didn’t know what she was going to do, and some days it felt like life was falling apart.
As she dusted off the sewing machine, Sowerby challenged herself to, sweater by sweater, work her way to six-figures.
In her first year she raised $200. ‘‘That gave us some encouragment.’’ She made $400 the next year. As the years went on it became a fulltime occupation. She knitted sweaters, beanies and boots. She made jam, baked cakes and even grew plants to sell.
‘‘It’s amazing how much money you can make with stuff like this.
‘‘If I could have my life over again I’d do it all the same.‘‘
Daphne Sowerby raised $100,000 for Arohanui Hospice after losing her husband.