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Ravkiran Kaur Dhillon loved to talk on the phone. “She could be on the phone for hours,” says her son, Harjot Dhillon, a 33-year-old marketing manager from Berkshire. “She wouldn’t stop for breath. She’d talk, talk, talk.” She would text, too: viral videos; jokey messages. Not just to her kids, but often to her kids’ friends. “If Mum got hold of one of my friend’s numbers, she’d text them all the time,” jokes Harjot. “She’d send them gifs and memes. I’d say: ‘Mum! Please text your friends, not mine!’”
Ravkiran moved to the UK from Kenya aged 24, marrying Partap, who was from Amritsar in Punjab, India, shortly afterwards – they were introduced by their families. “They had the most perfect marriage,” says Harjot. “They loved being in each other’s company. All their friends were mutual. They ate together every evening. I’ve emulated my parents in my own marriage.”
Ravkiran and Partap ran a post office together until his death in 2003 from pancreatic cancer. She nursed him through his sickness and, after he died, she began working as an administrative assistant and receptionist. “Her priority was making sure that we were OK and getting me and my sister through school,” says Harjot. When Ravkiran was not working, she loved to cook Punjabi food and watch Indian soap operas. Her favourite films were Sister Act, The Mask, Mrs Doubtfire and Pretty Woman. She was also extremely glamorous and well put-together. “She wore lipstick for an MRI scan once,” Harjot says, laughing.
When Harjot got engaged in May 2018, his mum was overjoyed. But the following year, Ravkiran fell ill at work and was hospitalised with transverse myelitis, an inflammation of the spinal cord that paralysed her from the waist down. Ravkiran spent the next six months in hospital, meaning that she missed Harjot’s wedding. “She told everyone that it was OK and we should go ahead and have the wedding without her,” says Harjot. Ravkiran asked if she could record a speech, to be played over the speakers at the reception. “She stole my thunder,” Harjot says. “It was so beautifully written. She talked about how proud she was of me and how she couldn’t ask for a better daughter-in-law. Everyone loved it.”
Harjot moved in with his mum to care for her when she was discharged from hospital. He does not know how she contracted Covid. Carers would come in to wash and dress her, but Harjot was also going to work, so it is possible that he passed it on. On 23 March, Ravkiran was admitted to Wexham Park hospital – she had been feeling unwell for a week. By 28 March, doctors told Harjot that it was terminal. He was allowed to visit his mum. His sister lives in Belgium, so she could not be there, but a nurse called her on FaceTime.
“The way it was done was so respectful,” says Harjot. “They gave her morphine to relax her and then we took off her mask.” Ravkiran was in good spirits. “She knew what was happening, but she was smiling and laughing,” says Harjot. “She told me and my sister, Kaval, that she was proud of us and that she’d done everything she needed to do, because we were both married and settled, so now she could go and be with Dad.” As Covid-19 deaths go, it was a good one.
Source: The Guardian
Keyword: ‘The way it was done was so respectful’: Ravkiran Kaur Dhillon, died aged 63, of Covid-19 | Coronavirus