Thursday, June 30, 2011
Erima Christina Banks 1922 - 2008
Erima Christina Banks was the youngest daughter of Dr Herbert Bertram and his wife Madoline nee Evans. She was Alister's grandmother Joan's youngest sister. Here is an account of her life, romance and death from an article in the New Zealand Herald (24 February 2008), which I think it just so touching that I wanted to post the link and (in case the story is archived) retell the story here:
Two brothers have told how their father died of a broken heart six days after their mother.
Brian and Erima Banks - Brin and Rima to family and friends - were married for 63 years and proved equally inseparable in death.
Rima died on February 12 aged 85, and Brin followed on February 18, at the age of 91.
Brin had been looking forward to going back to Selwyn Oaks Care Home in Papakura after a stay in Middlemore Hospital following a heart attack.
Rima, who had lost her sight two years earlier, was longing for her husband, companion and carer to return home. But she died just hours before he arrived.
"When he knew Mum had died he had no real interest in staying on. He wanted to be with her," said Stephen, the couple's youngest son.
"He arrived back at Selwyn Oaks and I had to tell him how, only hours earlier, his beloved wife had died. The flame flickered in his eyes and, six days later, he died.
"He was just absolutely dying for his dearly beloved wife."
Stephen said his father toasted Rima with a glass of whisky.
"He loved his Scotch and my son and I were there with him."
Then Brin asked to see his wife one last time. "I wheeled his bed up the corridor into her room where they spent their last few years together," said Stephen. "There were some flowers which Dad kissed and gave to me to put on Mum and say goodbye.
"We didn't expect them to go so quickly," he added.
Tony, the couple's eldest son, said their father deteriorated shortly after.
"I think he realised there wasn't much keeping him on. He just looked after Mum, to the hilt really."
The couple met in 1939 when Rima accompanied a friend who was visiting a young man at a Waikato farm.
During the visit, Rima, a nurse at Auckland Hospital, was introduced to the younger brother, Brin, and a romance started.
But World War II intervened and Brin, a lieutenant in the 25th infantry battalion, was posted overseas for five years. On his return in 1945 he married Rima almost immediately.
The pair farmed in the Waikato and raised three sons before moving to Papakura in the mid 1950s.
Brin started work as the hardware manager at Carter Merchants.
The couple remained independent in their own home before Rima's failing eyesight resulted in their move to Selwyn Oaks.
A joint funeral attended by more than 150 family and friends was held for the pair at the Papakura Anglican Church last Wednesday.
"Every pew in that place was full," said Tony. "It was beautiful as we walked them both out together."
The couple are survived by three sons, Tony, Mark and Stephen, seven grandchildren and their three great-grandchildren.
*THE LOSS OF A LOVED ONE
Dying of a broken heart is not as far-fetched as it sounds, according to Martin Connolly, Freemasons professor of geriatric medicine at Auckland University.
He said there was almost certainly an increased rate of death within the first few months of a close relative dying.
"We see people of all ages - but the older the more likely - accept their mortality, very often with great bravery and equanimity. It is not a large risk, but it is a risk."
Connolly had experienced such incidents during his 28 years in medicine and was not surprised by it any more. His comments were supported by a Dutch study, which showed the risk of death increased by up to a fifth in the months after the loss of a loved one.
The review of research on bereavement found the psychological distress it caused spouses could greatly increase their chances of dying soon afterwards.
The findings, published in British medical journal The Lancet, cited a study which found men were 21 per cent more likely to die after the loss of their wife. Widows had a 17 per cent increased risk.