This was my first posting on May 18, 2006, after an unforgettable Mother's Day experience with my late wife, Hula. A lot has happened since over the last three years...
Mother’s Day last Sunday may have been a memorable moment for many mothers all over Papua New Guinea and the world, a day on which their children and husbands showered them with gifts and expressions of love.
But for many others, life went on as usual; a day of toil and tears on what should have been an otherwise happy day.
Such was the case with two wonderful mothers I met in Ward 9 of the Port Moresby General Hospital last Sunday.
The story begins last Friday night when my wife had a tragic miscarriage and had to be admitted to Ward 9 of the POMGH.
What made this particularly heartbreaking for both of us was that it happened two days before Mother’s Day, and the discovery that the three-month old was a son.
Needless to say, tears fell freely for both of us as we thought about what could have been.
My wife spent the whole of Saturday in hospital and late in the afternoon underwent minor surgery as I paced anxiously up and down the corridors of the Labour Ward.
I needn’t have worried as she was well taken care of by very-experienced doctors and nurses and came out without a scratch.
I spent Saturday night with my wife in Ward 9, amidst the weeping and wailing of women, and during the course of the evening struck up an acquaintance with two women sharing the same room.
Helen Paul, from Garaina in the Morobe Province, would undergo major surgery a few days later.Helen, who lives at Morata with her husband and children, however, had a great personality and sense of humour that kept us awake for most of the night.
Next to Helen was Regina Komae, from Kunimaipa in the Goilala area of Central Province, who was looking after her very sick 25-year-old daughter Lucy.
Lucy, I gathered from her mother, had started becoming sick almost two years ago after giving birth to a daughter in Tapini.
Regina told me that that Lucy had been in and out of hospital since then – including undergoing major surgery - and it had utterly exhausted them: physically, mentally and financially.
Life has not been kind to them in a city like Port Moresby, and they had become settlement dwellers, but Regina’s Christian faith keeps her hanging on.
In all honesty, Lucy, with her skeletal frame, did not look like she had much time in her and this was confirmed by her mother.
“I have five children, of whom Lucy is the eldest,” Regina told me.“I could desert her and leave her alone here, but I love her so much.
“I am her mother and she is my daughter.”
Early last Sunday morning, as my wife and I were packing up to leave, a young student doctor at the nearby Medical Faculty came around with flowers and a wish for all the mothers on their special day.
I had my digital camera with me and was happily taking pictures of my wife – for old time’s sake – when Regina, with tears in her eyes, approached me.
“My brother,” she told me, “could you take a picture of Lucy and me on Mother’s Day?
“We have never had a picture together.”
Tears continued to flow freely down Regina’s eyes as I took a picture of her and her very sick daughter.
It was the epitome of a mother’s never-ending love for her child, come what may.
She later confessed: “This will probably be our last picture together.”My wife and I then left, with a “Happy Mother’s Day” wish to Regina and Lucy, not forgetting Helen, and a promise to bring them the pictures once I had printed them.
Outside, Mother’s Day commercialism was in the air, with jingles on radio and big banners outside the supermarkets.
At home, lots of hugs and kisses from our three children, although we felt that there wasn’t much to celebrate after our experience in Ward 9 of the POMGH.
How many Reginas and Lucys, and Helens, are there out there?
Footnote: Lucy Komae died a few days later - another stark statistic - of the Port Moresby General Hospital