“My mum felt very much at home here”: Joy reflects on her mothers final years at Bethanie.
Joy’s mother, Winice Tilley, was known for her beautiful personality and her love for caravanning and fishing in Western Australia. Throughout her life, she worked as a book keeper and a secretary and fostered a loving and close family. In her younger years she loved to entertain, maintained a fantastic group of friends, was a doting mother and was a Marching Girls Australia committee member.
Winice was born in 1919. Her unique name is a mix of the two midwives who helped to deliver her, Winifred and Alice.
After losing her first husband when her daughters were very young, Winice was determined to ensure her family never went without. She worked hard, owned her own car and devoted all of her spare time to giving her children a wholesome and exciting life.
Winice and Joy had a very close relationship. In her later years, Joy became Winice’s sole caregiver. Winice was having trouble remembering things, there were a few health complications that needed managing that fell outside Joy’s skillset and it eventually became clear that she needed a higher level of care.
“It was becoming too taxing, and I couldn’t give her the care she needed.” Joy said. One day, she turned to her mum and said, “I’m so sorry mum, I can’t do this for you anymore.”
Joy reminisced on what a kind and understanding person her mother was, and said her mum simply said, “if this is what needs to be done, then this is what we will do.”
As Joy started searching for a nice new place that could give her mum the care she needed, and a place to call home, she came across Bethanie Geneff.
“We walked into mum’s new room at Bethanie Geneff, and she immediately loved it,” Joy said.
“It was so spacious and lovely. She even had the ability to make a cup of tea for herself if she wanted too.”
Joy said that having that little bit of independence really meant the world to Winice.
“A few months later, she started calling it home. This was so important to me because you have to love where you live,” Joy said.
After maintaining such a close relationship for so many years, Joy wanted to remain by her mother’s side wherever possible.
“I was here at Bethanie Geneff all the time. Everyone knew me! I eventually started calling the bingo, then later on became a volunteer here,” she said.
When Winice’s life came to an end, it all happened rather quickly. She developed a lump in her breast, then the in-house GP started noticing liver and kidney complications.
Just a few weeks before her 100th Birthday, Joy noticed that her mum was sleeping a lot more, getting weaker and her mobility had slowed right down. Shortly after that, Winice was bedridden.
Winice made it to her last milestone, her 100th birthday party. She celebrated the day with an animal farm enjoyed by all the residents, and with her family around her.
Joy said that following her birthday, “mum was then happy enough to just let go.”
In January 2020, it became clear that Winice’s final days were approaching. Bethanie’s palliative partners were brought in to support, and Joy moved into her room to be near her.
“It’s weird how it happens, I have never experienced death that closely,” Joy said.
“It was about 1.30am and the night nurse came in while I was asleep. Then at 1.40am mum passed. I woke up as she did. I just had a feeling, I knew she wasn’t breathing. So I gave her a big cuddle, rang the bell and the gorgeous night nurse came to help me.”
Winice Tilley died in February 2020. She was loved by all the staff at Bethanie Geneff.
She wasn’t a religious woman, but she liked the support that the Bethanie Chaplains provided her in her final years.
Reflecting on Winice’s time at Bethanie Geneff, Joy said: “My mum felt very much at home here.”