My father’s last moments on this earth
15 September 2020
KUNDIAWA - It was on Wednesday 1 April that bad news came to Francis in his hospital bed in Kundiawa.
It was early in the morning when the phone rang. The caller was his cousin Duma Paulus from Diani village.
In broken tones, Duma told Francis that his father, the chief, Nicholas Tura Duma, had passed away.
Francis was in deep pain. He had not seen his father for 18 years and now he was dead.
They had talked on the phone over those years and I would get photo shots from my phone to show to Duma and Francis but that was the only way they got to see each other.
The roads to Diani were appalling, the distance was great, their health was suspect and financial problems were always present, so they had never got to meet over all that time.
But Francis could not bear to be absent from his father’s burial. So, ill though he was, he decided to go the village to see the grave site and witness the burial.
When his son-in–law, Cheryl’s husband, heard the news he gave his ten-seat Land Cruiser to Francis to go to the village.
Without thinking about his worsening pressure sores or body condition, early in the morning Francis took off to his village with Cheryl and a driver.
They reached the village around 5pm. All the villagers were surprised and hugged their long lost son, brother and uncle and cried.
Some were crying because of the old man but most were crying because of not seeing Francis for the last 20 years.
It was the saddest day for the Moiwo Bumba tribe. They had lost their Chief Nicholas Tura Duma and now they saw his only son and heir to the chieftainship, Francis, paralysed.
Francis slept in the car and on next day Mala helped his father buy a pig and his many cousins slaughtered it and, as a token of appreciation, gave it to the women in the village who used to take care of his father together with a little amount of money.
Then Francis travelled back to Kundiawa, to the only place he called home, Sir Joseph Nombri General Hospital.
Upon his arrival from the village he started feeling sick, he was very tired, the pressure sores had become worse.
This condition continued to worsen and by July he was in a shocking state. All the fluids in his body seemed to have gone, everything he took - solid food and liquid - couldn’t settle in his body he vomited them out.
The doctors and nurses tried to help him stop vomiting and gave him drugs but this did not help.
He got so weak so they put a cannula in his wrist to run drugs straight into his veins, but still he kept on vomiting.
One morning a nurse by the name of Kiak came to his bedside and told Francis that he had been living in the ward for almost 20 years and what if the smell and the environment of the hospital was making him sick.
Kiak suggested he try live with his daughters and the hospital would send medical supplies.
Francis thanked Kiak for her concern and said: “I was so concerned for my daughters because they were so small when I got into the accident and I wanted to see them grow up and now all of them are mothers and I am a grandfather now so I will dedicate my life back to my creator.”
Kiak was speechless after hearing his reply and went away. The nurses never give up and they continued giving drugs through the cannula and he still vomited.
When the nurses were away Francis would take the cannula out and when the nurses returned they would put it on again and this went on for two weeks.
On one occasion Francis complained to his nephew, Mondo, saying that the cannula and drugs didn’t help so just take it off me and Mondo took it out.
After several minutes one of the senior nurses, Shirley Wena, heard that Francis was very sick and came to check on him. When she arrived she saw his body was fading and that he needed sugar.
She was so mad that there was no cannula found and went to the nursing station and got cross with every nurses on duty that evening.
She told them all to write five good reasons why Francis was not getting all the attentions he deserved.
When Shirley was about to leave, Francis told all the nurses to come with Shirley to his bedside.
In a very weak voice he said to them: “Yupela tingim mi na yupela koros ya yupela noken makim olsem sapos em plan blo Bikpela God untap olsem me bai dai yumi nonap senisim, yupela rausim ol gumi nambaut ya na larim me go”.
[“You think or me and are concerned but you cannot treat me like this because it is the Heavenly Father’s plan that this is the time for me to die and you cannot change this. So take the cannula away and let me be.”]
When he completed these words all the nurses, even Shirley, cried and they said, “Don’t ever say that. You are still under our care and we will not give up on you”.
Shirley cleared her throat and apologised to the nurses and told them Francis was unhappy seeing us like that to forget about the five reasons and let’s work together for Francis’s sake. It all happened in his presence and he was very happy seeing them make peace again.
On Friday 31 July Francis called everyone who ever had grudges against him and he against them and asked for forgiveness and he also forgave them. Everyone who came to visit him shed tears.
Meanwhile Francis’s condition went from bad to worse and he was transferred from the TB Ward to the Medical Ward for constant observation. On Saturday 1 August he summoned all his daughters to his bedside and gave his blessings to them.
He also said that he didn’t say good bye to his friends namely the two Jimmies [Drekore and Awagl], Mathias Kin, Andrew Ya, Philip Kai, Eddie Wemin, Arnold Mundua, Keith Jackson and Phil Fitzpatrick .
He called those names with tears.
On Sunday 2 August 2020 at around 1.20pm he told his daughter Mala and wife Cathy to pull both his hands up because he wanted to sit, when they held both of his hands he passed away quietly.
He was a very strong man all other patients at the hospital who were paralysed like him died in less than ten years. He stayed for 20 years.
Everyone thinks that we the family took care of him long enough but that was wrong; he took care of us constantly. Even though he was paraplegic and unemployed he was very much the father every child deserved.
He was a concerned father, a provider, he loved us without measure, he baby sat his grandchildren. He was a loving man with a very soft heart.
He never cursed us, he blessed us even though we failed him a lot of the time. He would say, “Never give up, life is tough, but if you are educated nobody can put you down. Never forget to put your children in school, they are your future assets.”
Thanks Charlene. A beautiful piece about your dad's last moments. Very touching. May he rest in eternal peace. May his writing skills prosper in you. God bless.
Posted by: Roslyn Tony | 19 September 2020 at 09:08 PM
Charlene, I never knew that you had the gift to write. Keep writing, among you girls one could be a writer.
I now have joyful tears, it's your father's will to carry on his legacy.
Posted by: Philip Kai Morre | 17 September 2020 at 09:53 PM
Charlene, I'm guessing that your ability in writing is exactly what your father was ever hoping and striving for.
Posted by: Lindsay F Bond | 15 September 2020 at 08:23 PM
Thank you for sharing Francis's final moments with us. A great man he is.
Posted by: Dominica Are | 15 September 2020 at 07:34 PM
Thank you, Charlene.
Posted by: Kenny Pawa | 15 September 2020 at 12:53 PM
I was fortunate enough to meet and speak with your father in Brisbane several years ago. He was a wonderful man who was unafraid to challenge the orthodoxy or speak the truth to power and the world needs many more like him.
Posted by: Bernard Corden | 15 September 2020 at 10:42 AM
We are all richer for having known Francis.
What you have described about his final days will be something for us all to wonder and think about for a long time to come.
You are a true daughter of a great man Charlene.
Posted by: Philip Fitzpatrick | 15 September 2020 at 09:25 AM
Charlene, thank you for sharing. I shed my tears with you.
Posted by: William Dunlop | 15 September 2020 at 08:05 AM
Well said, Charlene. That is a touching and eloquent memorial to your dad.
Posted by: Robin Lillicrapp | 15 September 2020 at 06:40 AM