Stewart Gordon is celebrating his 65th birthday this year with a positive attitude and a huge smile on his face. He was born in Somerset West where he still resides, and is the eldest of six children.
Life has not always been kind to him. He was 10 years old when his mother passed away, and the youngest of the six children was only 7 months old. Stewart contracted rheumatic fever as a child, which had an adverse effect on his heart and consequently triggered his first heart attack in 1981, only 2 years after he got married.
At the time of the heart attack, he was doing a 2.4km run as part of his security training course. This marked the beginning of many cardiac surgeries at Grootte Schuur Hospital in Cape Town, and many trips to the hospital.
Stewart is the father of three daughters, but in 1993 the unthinkable happened. He lost his eldest daughter in a fatal car accident on her way to school – she was only 16 years old.
He is a survivor and a deeply spiritual person. In 1995, after another heart attack and with only 14% heart function, he was declared disabled and unable to work. Despite the many challenges in his life, he rose above the occasion yet again.
Stewart continued to do security work at schools for a few hours per day, but by the end of last year he was very weak and wheelchair-bound and using crutches. Grootte Schuur Hospital referred him to Helderberg Hospice to receive special care as a Palliative Care patient.
The intervention of Helderberg Hospice Home Care Sisters and the spiritual guidance from his community Pastor, changed his life dramatically. In his own words: “The provision of correct medication and the loving support and care from Sr. Angelique Botha, Dr. Mark Hosking and other hospice staff members, is what ‘saved’ me. They immediately made me feel at home and part of the Helderberg Hospice family. I am very family focussed and I was supported in my wish to be at home. Today I can walk longer distances, and without any assistance! Life owes me nothing, but I firmly believe that I have a purpose. I hope to give hope and love to those around me with my story.”
With a huge passion for motorcycles, Stewart is the only person in the Helderberg basin who managed to train deaf people to earn their motorcycle licences, back in the day. His wish is to be able to drive or even just be a passenger, on a Harley Davidson motorcycle.
He currently lives with his daughter Desiree, and his bright and bubbly 3 year old granddaughter.