A special gift
Thursday 18 May 2017
Inspired by the memory of his late wife, Wilson Ariyawansa decided to make a commitment to the hospital by leaving a bequest in his Will.
Now, as Wilson reflects on his earliest memory of his beloved wife, Manodara, he immediately recalls her glowing smile.
“She had the most radiant smile. I will never forget it,” he says. “Even now, 37 years on, I remember our first meeting so vividly. It will never fade away.”
Having met in their native Sri Lanka, the pair were married in the country’s capital, Colombo, and later migrated to Australia in 1991. It was here, in their new-found home, that they built a wonderful and happy life together.
“She was my wife, my best friend, and my mentor,” he says. “Her life was characterised by a calm and gentle approach in good and bad times as well as a boundless love for everyone around her.
“Personally, she taught me so much. To always think from another person’s perspective and help others in need. To always be kind and compassionate, and to always work to ensure you are living a joyous and happy life.
"She was always very generous, kind-hearted and considerate. It was these brilliant qualities that inspired me to be a better person - something I will forever be grateful for."
However, when Manodara was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2008, it began an extremely difficult period for them both, however Wilson reveals his wife continued to remain her positive self until her health began to deteriorate in 2015.
Then, within one month of Manodara’s passing later that year, misfortune struck again when Wilson was diagnosed with leukaemia. Still devastated from the loss of his partner, he was admitted to The Alfred to begin immediate chemotherapy.
“Everything happened so quickly, I wasn’t even given time to properly grieve,” he says.
“However, all staff members at The Alfred were absolutely amazing. I believe I am here today only because of the amazing medical care and support that I received at the hospital.”
Wilson spent three and a half months at The Alfred before being discharged in February of last year. Faced with the prospect of continuing his life without his beloved Manodara, he drew strength from his friends and loved ones surrounding him.
Wilson says that it was through this support that he made the decision to honour his late wife by fully embracing his new outlook on life. He began to participate more regularly in his favourite sport of tennis, he decided to finally learn piano, and, most symbolically, he chose to honour his wife by supporting The Alfred.
“While the grief surrounding me continues to be tough, I know that the greatest thing I can do is to honour Manodara during the rest of my life,” Wilson says. “And that is why I chose to leave a bequest to The Alfred in my Will – to honour her name and caring nature in a practical way that will help others.
“She was always passionate about working to alleviate the suffering of others in the community – an ethos that The Alfred epitomises so brilliantly. Through my experience, I know first-hand the life-saving work that goes on here. The staff members at the hospital are very devoted and compassionate.
“If she was here today, I just know that she would be absolutely thrilled with my decision.”
The Alfred thanks Wilson and all of our wonderful bequestors for their generosity. If you would like to book a confidential discussion about how you can remember The Alfred in your Will, or request information, please contact Diane Deeming at The Alfred Foundation on (03) 9076 3222.