‘Thank God for Marina.’
My sister and I have said this over and over ever since the day this loving, caring, practical, no-nonsense force of Nature appeared in our lives. For months we had cajoled, argued and pleaded with our parents to accept some help in the home or to take some respite elsewhere. They had consistently refused to the point that in May 2015, faced with Dad having a leg amputated and Mother home alone in a frenzy of anxiety, my sister joined some agency listings online. ‘I am going to find someone,’ she said. ‘I don’t care if we have to pay for it ourselves.’
This is how we found Marina. A shining, smiling face on a web page who quickly transmogrified into a living, breathing angel of mercy.
We met her in a cafe in Tonbridge. She was waiting outside and as we walked towards her, she beamed at us in recognition. We sat, talking over cappuccinos, as nervous as if this were a blind date, giving out intimate details about our Mother’s mental health and our Dad’s personal requirements. It was a meeting of minds. Marina immediately understood what we were saying about Mum. After months of trying to explain to professionals and friends and neighbours alike that Mum wasn’t simply ‘depressed about Dad’ but that she was in fact very ill herself, we had finally found someone who got it.
‘I’ll come and meet your parents but I will act as though I am there for your dad and I won’t talk to your mum unless she wants me to,’ she said.
It worked, and from there on in, Marina has been with us.
‘I am going to see this through,’ she tells us, whenever we protest that she has done too much for us already.
Marina was employed as a carer, but over the last 14 months she has been so much more. A carer, yes, with all the, sometimes horrendous, jobs which that entails, but also a furniture remover, healthcare liaison official, agony aunt, cleaner, housekeeper, and above all, friend.
In the midst of all the pain and loss, Marina has been a shining beacon of hope and succour and love. She has been a bridge over troubled waters, a lighthouse on the rocky shores of grief. We bless the day she walked into our lives, from the parched, golden land of South Africa to a cold, grey crowded high street in a small town in Kent. We could not survive without her. Thank God indeed for Marina.