For mother and daughter Eunice Limpus and Janice Kilduff, every day is like Mother’s Day.
The pair share an apartment at Ryman Healthcare’s Murray Halberg Retirement Village in Lynfield and also lived together for several years before they moved in.
Says Janice: “We even worked together for a while. I used to run a small hairdressing salon in Westmere and Mum would come over and help with shampooing and things a couple of days a week.”
Janice feels lucky to share such a close relationship with her mother because it was a very different story for Eunice, whose own mother died when Eunice was just 10-years-old.
“Mum and her sister were sent to live in an orphanage and then her dad remarried and Mum didn’t get on with her stepmother,” says Janice.
“I ran away three times,” says Eunice, who was eventually sent to live with her grandparents who were part of the Salvation Army.
Through that connection with the Sallies, Eunice met her future husband, Bill Limpus, sparking a partnership and love that ‘made all my pain go away’.
Janice says she did cause a bit of trouble for her mum for a few years in her teens and through her 20s – to which Eunice nods and agrees Janice was indeed ‘a bit of a scamp’ for a while.
But with that long behind them now, they have grown into great friends who enjoy each other’s company.
“We don’t have much money but we have a bit of fun,” says Eunice.
That idyllic existence looked set to change to a new reality last October however, when Eunice suffered a traumatic injury.
Somehow, she tripped over her own feet and fell heavily on her knee which in turn caused a compound fracture in her femur.
Even in the face of such a horrific sight, says Janice, Eunice had other concerns on her mind.
“All she could say was ‘don’t get blood on the carpet!’
“The doctors thought Mum wouldn’t come right after that. It was quite frightening,” says Janice.
A two week stay in Auckland Hospital followed before she returned to the hospital unit at Murray Halberg to continue her recovery.
Janice would walk over to visit her mum every day, and, because of the lockdown restrictions, would often stand at her window and talk to her on the phone.
Eunice missed the closeness of having Janice nearby and instead shared hugs with the village caregivers, who would also pray with her at the end of their shift.
Having to return home to her apartment without her Mum, Janice would call two very good friends and the three of them would pray together for Eunice’s recovery.
Eunice became sick once again and had to return to Auckland Hospital before finally returning to their apartment in the Davies block in January.
Now, er regular physio sessions have seen her move from a high walker to a normal height walker and next will be two crutches before gradually moving to one crutch and then a walking stick.
“They all say I’m wonderful but I’m not wonderful, I’m fed up with this leg!” says Eunice, who still admits she continues to improve each day.
“I even managed to make my bed this morning!” she says.
While this Sunday is Mother’s Day, Janice says they have made no special plans because there’s a bigger day following five days later on the 13th May – Eunice’s 101st birthday.
Last year, she celebrated her centenary with a big party in the village activity room but this year it will be a smaller affair with close family.
Says Janice with a smile at her mum: “I go to bed at night and I think it’s such a gift to have had Mum for so long.”
“Then Janice will say, ‘Mum, are you awake?’ jokes Eunice.
“And she says ‘Well I am now!” laughs Janice, with great humour and affection once again.
So what’s the secret of a great mother daughter relationship?
Janice credits it to Eunice being ‘very patient’ while Eunice says Janice ‘looks after me very, very well.’
Put simply, Eunice says: “I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for you,” as she casts a loving eye at her daughter.
“And nor I if it weren’t for you,” says Janice.