Sisters Mary Newman, 89, left, and Clara Pogson, 87, who’d had no contact for six years, had a surprise reunion when Pogson moved into Eden Gardens in late February. (Photo submited)

Sisters surprised to find themselves reunited at Nanaimo seniors care home after years apart

Eden Gardens staff member noticed new care home resident’s resemblance to another resident

A stroke that led to a communication breakdown separated two sisters, but they had a surprise reunion last month when they discovered they were both residents of the same care home in Nanaimo.

According to a press release from Eden Gardens, Clara Pogson, 87, proclaimed that “trouble has arrived” when she first walked through the front doors of the dementia care home in February.

She was greeted by the nurse in charge and staff, and residents were enjoying their “exuberant new neighbour.” Before long, one of the nurses thought she saw a strong resemblance to another resident, Mary Newman, who’d been living there since soon after the facility opened in 2017. Staff made sure that Clara made Mary’s acquaintance.

“The first thing Clara did was pinch Mary, 89, really hard,” said Sandy Parise, Eden Gardens’ executive assistant, in the release. “Mary yelped and Clara responded with, ‘I thought you were dead.’”

The sisters, who had lost contact with one another six years earlier, couldn’t believe who they were seeing, Parise said, and spent the next several hours that day, and many more since, laughing together and talking a mile a minute while reminiscing.

READ ALSO: Compassion and enthusiasm are at the centre of Eden Gardens’ approach to dementia care

Bill Newman, the sisters’ younger brother who lives on the Sunshine Coast, said the sisters lost touch after Clara had suffered a stroke and developed difficulties with comprehension. She lived in the Duncan area before requiring greater care, and Bill arranged for her to move into Eden Gardens.

“She didn’t really know quite what was going on. I’ll put it that way,” Bill said, in a phone interview with the News Bulletin. “She didn’t quite understand what people were saying and she thought Mary didn’t want her to phone her again or see her again and that’s why they didn’t see one another, but it was just a total misunderstanding between the two of them.”

Bill said Clara has mostly recovered from the effects of the stroke.

He said his sisters have been reminiscing about growing up in Sansum Narrows, south of Maple Bay. They come from a large family of six sisters and five brothers and lived on a houseboat – named the ‘El Rose’ after their mother – until about 1948.

“My grandfather used to sell mine props to the mines at Nanaimo and Mom and her sisters and brothers, they logged them, with horses … and they had to walk to Genoa Bay. Seven miles to work and then seven miles back and then they logged the poles during the day.”

Some of the memories recalled at the sisters’ first meeting had the women laughing so hard they both had tears running down their cheeks.

“Clara told us that Mary was always Daddy’s favourite,” Parise said. “It was so amusing to see Mary having so much fun. She is usually so reserved. At that moment, no one existed but the two of them as they shared some ice cream and chatted the afternoon away, while the staff shared tears of happiness enjoying the excitement.”

READ ALSO: Eden Gardens’ calendar sure to be a chart-topper



photos@nanaimobulletin.com
Like us on
Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Seniors

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

COVID-19: Saanich company joins nation-wide effort to produce 30,000 ventilators

StarFish Medical using a ‘purpose-driven design for rapid manufacturing,’ CEO says

Royal Athletic Park will not be a shelter site during COVID-19 crisis: Victoria mayor

Indoor sites to be coordinated with Island Health, BC Housing

BC Ferries further reduces sailings in response to COVID-19

Any sailing reservations cancelled due to schedule changes will be refunded

Judge rejects pandemic as reason to grant bail to immunocompromised prisoner

Esquimalt man told there are more health risks for addicts on the street than there are in jail

Canoe found in men’s public bathroom in Cadboro-Gyro Park

‘Please do not park your canoe in our bathrooms,’ say Saanich parks staff

UPDATE: Canadians awake to extra COVID-19 emergency benefit money, feds clarify changes

The CRA and federal officials are working to clarify the confusion around payments

B.C. sorting medical equipment sales, donation offers for COVID-19

Supply hub has call out for masks, gowns, coronavirus swabs

B.C. records five more deaths due to COVID-19, 45 new cases

A total of 838 people have recovered from the virus

Major crimes investigating sudden death of North Okanagan child

The 8 year old was flown to Kelowna General Hospital and died hours later

Easter Bunny added to B.C.’s list of essential workers

Premier John Horgan authorizes bunny to spread “eggs-ellent cheer” throughout province

Travellers returning to B.C. must have self-isolation plan or face quarantine: Horgan

Premier John Horgan says forms must be filled out by travellers

More than 400 animals have been adopted amid pandemic: B.C. SPCA

People are taking this time of social distancing to find a loyal companion through the animal welfare group

VIDEO: More than 85 people displaced by Campbell River apartment fire

Traffic is being diverted around Dogwood Street and 9th Avenue

Thieves steal $5,000 worth of cigarettes and candy from semi trailer in Nanaimo

Culprits hit truckload in shipping company storage yard on Old Victoria Road on Monday

Most Read