Colleen and her late husband Graeme had a long and happy marriage raising their family in Tokoroa. So when Graeme passed away in July 2019, it took a big toll on Colleen.
Such a toll, that just five months later she experienced a life-changing stroke.
Colleen lost control of most muscles on the right side of her body and now needs full-time support.
“She was an avid walker, gardener and could always be found pottering around,” says Mike, her eldest son and now fulltime carer. “It was quite a shock to see her become dependent on someone else.”
Mike was directed to Enable New Zealand, who provided Colleen with equipment funded by Whaikaha – Ministry of Disabled People, including a walker, wheelchair, converted wet-floor bathroom and outside ramps.
“If it wasn't for Enable New Zealand, mum would have definitely gone into a care home.” Mike says
Since the stroke Colleen celebrates the little things: supporting herself toward the bathroom, strolls around the lake, and any outings from the house. She has delved into her love of reading, and now has well over 300 books in her collection.
“She can knock over two books a week.” Mike says.
The highlights of Colleen’s days are visits from friends or family. In May 2022, the entire family decided to all gather properly for the first time since the COVID-19 lockdowns.
“It was just awesome to see everybody together,” says Mike. “And it was really good for mum.”