Josephine Matseke Peter, a nurse and mother-of-two who worked at Southport and Formby District General Hospital, died on 18 April after testing positive for coronavirus.
Her daughter Buhle Peter pays tribute to her mother who she says had the biggest heart and greatest capacity to love.
My mama, Josephine Matseke, was a vibrant soul. She was full of so much love that it was incomprehensible. Her work ethic always inspired me and her fighting spirit was something so beautiful because it showed she would always persevere and push until she couldn’t push anymore. She was my hero.
My mother died at the frontline of the COVID-19 pandemic. She moved to the UK from South Africa in 2002 and spent over 15 years working as a nurse for the NHS and agencies; preserving human life, helping others, sharing that glow she had and spreading joy. It was while working as nurse that she caught the virus.
My brother and I moved back to Johannesburg a few years ago while my parents remained in the UK. The last time I saw my mum was on our family road trip to Swaziland and Mozambique over Christmas. It was such a magical adventure for us all and her smile is permanently embedded in our minds.
It was on this trip that she told us she planned to move home to South Africa in a few months’ time. She had already started to ship her belongings to the house that she had started to build. It was her dream to spend retirement in her new home living near us and watching my niece grow up.
When my mother died, it was difficult not to be with my dad at her funeral in the UK. We watched a live stream of the service. It was a numbing experience and it didn’t really sink in until her cremation; watching that really hit me in the gut. It was unbelievable.
This beautiful woman whom I have the honour of calling my mother, was also my best friend and the root of my being. I can’t describe how much I loved and adored her.
I treasured our mama-daughter dates and outings where we would just be together, laugh and take pictures. She always loved to capture the moment and live life to the fullest. She had the biggest heart and greatest capacity to love that it was difficult to comprehend that someone could love so much.
She was at my side all my life and without her I wouldn’t be the woman I am today. Having her taken from me has caused me so much unimaginable heartache to the point where I felt numb.
Being alone was scary because it meant I was going to be in my own thoughts and sink deeper and deeper into them. But spending more time with my brother and the rest of my family has helped. Living without her will be difficult but I will make her proud of the woman she raised.
All I want now is for my mother’s life to be celebrated, as she so rightfully deserved, and for my dad to come home so we can be together as a family to remember her together. She was truly one of a kind and will continue to blossom in my heart and my family’s hearts forever.
To the world, I would like to say stay safe because this virus took my love away from me and I don’t want it to take anyone else’s.
Robala ka Kgotso, ma (translated from Sesotho: Rest in Peace, ma)
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