Helen Patience Uprichard
Dodgson MB BCh(Belfast)
born 26 Aug, 1915, Belfast, Ireland
died 8 Aug 1995, Prince Henry Hospital, Little Bay, Sydney, Australia
My mother, Dr Patience Dodgson died 2 weeks before her 80th birthday in
Australia after 33 years of a debilitating and crippling disease that
left her blind and bedridden the last 6 years of her life.
spirit! I always knew when Dr Patience was feeling better because I could
call from Philadelphia and have an argument about the Australian or
American political situation.
In her last year, Dr Patience was thrilled to tell me that her
refugee student had received a B in her English examination, due to my
mother's tutelage from her bed.
Mother graduated from Queen's
University School of Medicine in 1940 and was immediately swept up in
the war effort in England.
She worked hard through her own burst
appendix and bombs dropping around the hospitals in Sheffield and
London and before too long caught the eye of a young medical student
at St Thomas' Hospital, London.
She married Dr Michael Dodgson on
January 25th, 1945, and waved him goodbye as he sailed off to Burma
for 2 years with the British Army to finish World War II and mop up afterwards.
Daily letters followed, full of love and promises of a
Dr Michael returned, settled down to a career in
Pathology and finally the first child was born in London in 1949, Robert Michael Dodgson.
Since Mother's career was effectively finished at this time, she
decided to do child-bearing properly, giving birth to William John Dodgson 12
months later also in London; me in Bristol 14 months later and then also in Bristol Patrick William Dodgson 12
months after that.
William John died in infancy. and is buried near our Dodgson grandparents in Eastbourne, England. I hope to be buried with him.
Dr Michael's career in Pathology was not progressing as fast as he liked,
and we had moved to Manchester which I remember as being gray at all times. My father clearly missed the warm air and blue skies of Asia, and meanwhile the British Government was desperately trying to prop up a dying Empire by paying most of the costs of moving British people to its colonies.
And so, following a trend, one morning Dr Michael woke up and announced to Dr Patience that they were
moving to New Zealand and he was flying out in a week. My mother told me that her last words to her father-in-law and mother-in-law were that she did not want to go, this was not her idea.
In June 1957
Dr Patience packed up and moved us to Belfast for 6 months, where we watched Sputnik in the sky. In December 1957 my brothers and I climbed onto the ship named the Southern Cross for a 7-week voyage.
The trip of a lifetime from Liverpool through the Caribbean, across the Panama Canal, through the South Pacific to Wellington, New Zealand! Unfortunately I was only 6. Gosh! In Panama we were sitting under trees at night when the adults were drinking things that made them mellow. In Fiji I remember eating watermelon. Maybe for the first time.
Tight-rope walking on the ship's rails and a
kidnapping attempt of the Robert in Fiji. Samoa, I remember dancing.
Trying to keep 3 hyperactive children from falling overboard exhausted my mother, and when we arrived in Wellington, my father put her in a hotel room by herself for several days. And she slept a long, long time.
New Zealand was paradise for Dr Patience and all of us. We lived on the top of a hill in a house on the grounds of Cook Hospital, where all food was grown and power generated. Dr Patience did not work for the only time in her adult life, and gave birth in 1959 to my youngest brother, a very blond Charles Heathfield Dodgson. My Charley.
My father was the only pathologist in Gisborne, and I found out years later, was the only neuropathologist in the entire country of New Zealand.
On Oct 1, 1960, the day the British rulers left both Cyprus and Nigeria, our British family left New Zealand, by boat, and traveled 6 days to Australia, the land of birth of Caroline Tooth Dodgson, my father's grandmother. Dr Michael immedaitely started work as a hospital
pathologist in a University hospital in Sydney.
Two years after that, Mother was crippled with arthritis. She went from running rapidly
everywhere to being scarcely able to hobble. And she was only 47.
could not handle
his strong companion suddenly becoming needy, so he ran off with a young woman, came back and then after a few years, one day cleaned out their bank accounts, bought a VW beetle, and set up house with the young woman 1500 miles away in Adelaide. A year after living with my father, the young woman committed suicide, so after that he frequently came back to visit for a week or so or a month or so. Usually right after his latest girlfriend had realized that he might not be the prize she hoped. Mother never knew when
a taxi would pull up, and he was always welcomed. My mother was grace itself.
Nearly 20 years later, when we were all getting my mother nursing and medical help, I called her physician from New Jersey. Before saying anything, he told me the medical folks in Sydney were appalled at the behavior of Dr Michael, had been, and still were. Which explains why my father could never again get a job in Sydney, and even if he had wanted to care for his wife and children, was not able to. We never were given the impression he wanted to.
When we heard in 1987 that Dr Michael was in the final
stages of prostate cancer, my brother flew to Townsville to collect him
so he could die in the family house. In his last week he was taken to
hospital for hospice care, and his last words were "Patience!"
Complicated love story. Dad died in January 1988, 8 months before my
third son was born in Philadelphia. Allister Michael Dodgson Blossfeld
has Dad's height, and his gorgeous big brown eyes.
Meanwhile, sick as she was, after my father left in 1967,
Dr Patience supported my 3 brothers and myself through school and
university. She worked as a rehabilitation physician in for Australian Veterans Affairs 1967 until she retired in 1980. Which meant she did a few physicals for young men conscripted to fight in Vietnam. She was very proud of making those not wanting to go to Vietnam ineligible. To her core, she was Irish. And because of her birth, I am entitled to citizenship in the Republic of Ireland, which is why this site is flying the colors of the Irish flag.
Australia in 1978 after finishing my PhD to work as post-doctoral fellow at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.
When my first son Angus Zoltan was born in
1981, Dr Patience could not get onto a plane quick enough to visit her
first grandchild. This was an arduous trip, the last plane trip she
attempted. I brought Angus, and my other sons Miles and Allister to see her in Australia several times.
But she never saw my daughter Patience Caroline, who was born 14 months before Dr Patience died.