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When Kim Ryan saw her father for the first time in 35 years it was life changing...

Thanks to a chance encounter between mutual friends, Tony, a ‘happy hippy’ living on Great Barrier Island and his daughter living 850kms south in Christchurch were reconnected, and just in the nick of time.

Not long after Kim and Tony had been back in contact, sadly Tony was diagnosed with a terminal illness. Kim’s planned trip to Whangaparaoa with her children to meet her father, was suddenly brought forward.  She arrived at Hospice having not seen him since she was 12 years old and she was going to be introducing her kids to their Grandad for the very first time.

Thanks to your ongoing support Hospice was there for Tony and his family; providing specialist palliative care, and helping to have flights changed for Kim, Bridie and Dylan meant they could arrive on the Coast in time to reunite and have special time together, and to say final goodbyes.

Please embrace families like Tony’s this Christmas with a donation to Hospice. With your help Hibiscus Hospice can continue to deliver services free of charge and provide the type of comfort that embraces a family through the hardest of times. 

Tony had been unwell for a while and was under the care of Hibiscus Hospice from October 2016. During that time he received ongoing wrap around support from the Hospice’s multidisciplinary team including, social worker Brendon, nurse Cath and Vincent the Hospice’s Spiritual Carer who provided friendship and companionship.

Always going the extra mile, Cath also kindly looked after Tony’s dog Shadow, while Tony was receiving care in the in-patient unit, as he had no one else able to help. Kim said that “Hospice invest so much of themselves into people that have very little time left. They care and bond with those they know will soon be gone. They are giving individuals a final gift.”

When the family arrived at Hospice, Kim recalls that “The room was warm, the lighting was gentle and it felt like you were in a normal bedroom. He was comfortable and in good spirits for a man who only had hours to live. I felt so grateful he was in such a lovely environment. At a minimum, everyone should be able to spend their last days like that.”

Kim’s son Dylan was keen to read a story that he had written especially for his Grandad. The story was about a boy who was to meet his grandfather for the first time having recently been diagnosed with cancer. Together they went on a family fishing trip where they caught an unusual fish that turned out to be the cure for Cancer!  When Dylan read his story to his Grandad, Tony started smiling, and then launched into fits of laughter. Kim said that “Watching the kids with dad was magic.”

Shortly after Dylan finished the story Tony fell asleep, unable to be woken. During this time Tony’s brother arrived at the Hospice. Kim hadn't seen her uncle since she was very little. They hugged endlessly and sat with Tony and told him how happy they were that he’d brought the family back together again.

Tony opened his eyes for a second as the family kissed him goodbye and said “we will see you in the morning”. Sadly they never did as Tony died peacefully early the next morning.

Kim said that “Seeing Dad again was actually life changing. I can't really articulate it, other than it feels like a whole large part of my heart's been healed. A respectful end, surrounded by genuinely caring souls.”


It was incredibly special for Kim to reconnect with her father in his dying days, as she already tragically had both her sister and partner die earlier on in her life. A memorable part for Kim was being reunited with her Uncle at her father’s bedside. She remembered him from when she was a child and they had not seen one another in decades. They now keep in touch every week. Kim and her family had such little time with Tony before he died, but being back together, even for a short time gave Kim the chance to reconnect with her father and it gave her children the opportunity to meet their Grandad.

I hadn't seen my Dad for over 35 years and when we finally made contact he was already very sick. Cath and Brendon helped me re-establish a bond with a man I once loved as a child but didn't know as an adult. They cared for him genuinely, I felt comforted that they'd been in his life before we were brought back together. My children got to meet the Grandfather they'd only heard stories about.

None of this would have been possible if these two amazing Hospice staff members didn't bend over backwards to help us all reconnect.”

We ask that you please consider investing in Hibiscus Hospice this Christmas with a gift of whatever you can afford.

Like Kim says, ‘Hospice staff invest so much of themselves into people that have very little time left’.  

Thank you for your continued support of Hibiscus Hospice. I would like to wish you a safe and peaceful Christmas and we look forward to keeping in touch with you in the New Year.

Yours sincerely

Jan Nichols
Chief Executive  

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