Former caregiver dies after coma

News & Features May 30, 2013 at 1:41 pm

By Dyan Ruiz

 Maricon Gerente

Maricon Gerente

It was a “bittersweet” end for former caregiver and mother of two, Maricon Gerente, who passed away on Monday, May 27, 2013. She lost her battle against a brain tumor, but won her dreams of starting a life for her daughters in Canada.  

Ma Concepcion Ala Gerente, also known as Maricon, had been in a vegetative state in an Oakville hospital since November 2012 after doctors discovered she had a brain tumor. Last month, Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) approved her application for permanent residency while she lay in hospital. This month, CIC gave temporary residency to her daughters, Lean, 14, and Saniel, 11, who currently live in the Philippines.

The viewing and funeral will take place on May 30 and 31 at Glen Oaks Memorial Gardens in Oakville.

“Maricon meant the world to me,” said her former employer and close friend, Jodie Gilbert. “Unfortunately for me it’s bittersweet because she accomplished all the things she set out to do – the girls getting their temporary residence and creating a future for them. Of course it saddens me that she won’t be a part of that.”

“If she was going to have any life, she would’ve been hospital bound and in a vegetative state. It gives me peace at this point that she’s at peace herself, and there won’t be any more suffering,” Gilbert said.

Gerente worked as an au pair in Paris before moving to Oakville to work for the Gilberts under the Live-in Caregiver Program, helping to take care of Jodie and Eli Gilbert’s two children. She soon became one of the family.    

Gerente kept a close relationship with the daughters she left behind in the Philippines, talking with them daily, parenting from afar, and visiting every year– all the while working towards bringing them to Canada. She eventually moved out of the Gilbert’s household after training to become a Personal Support Worker.

Caregivers are not allowed to bring their family to Canada until they finish their work requirement and are approved for permanent residency.

It wasn’t until Gerente had fallen ill that her application for permanent residency was approved. After some discussions with immigration lawyer, Guidy Mamann, who offered his services pro bono to the family, CIC granted temporary residency to the daughters.

They recently visited their mother for six weeks and returned to the Philippines on May 19, 2013. CIC granted temporary residency to the girls and Gerente’s cousin, Aileen Bazon Tan, who will be taking care of them when they return to Canada.

Community Engagement Coordinator for Thorncliffe Neighbourhood Office, Esel Laxa Panlaqui, has been providing support to the family. She said in an interview that Bazon Tan and the daughters plan to settle in Oakville when they return, as the daughters bonded with the children of Gerente’s friends who live in the city. The community centre will also provide settlement services to Bazon Tan and the daughters.

Bazon Tan told Panlaqui that the day before the daughters left, Gerente had a fever, a sign to her that Gerente did not want them to leave.

Gilbert said the daughters are “extremely heartbroken and very emotional because they had just gone home [to the Philippines] the week before. In their eyes, there was a glimmer of hope because Maricon’s eyes were open and she seemed to respond in small little ways to them,”

“In the end, they were glad that they were able to come and spend that time with their mom,” she said.

“As short as her life was, she accomplished the things that she set out to do,” Gilbert said.

Living out the dream of a life in Canada with her daughters will not be part of Gerente’s journey.

“The main thing that she was set on was getting to spend the rest of her life seeing her kids grow up here and have the same opportunities that she did,” Gilbert said.

“That part really, really saddens me. And I’ll miss her dearly,” Gilbert said.

The viewing will be at Glen Oaks Memorial Gardens in Oakville at 3164 Ninth Line on May 30 from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. The funeral will be on May 31 at 2 p.m. at the same location with a short reception to follow.

The family has asked in lieu of flowers, donations will be collected at the service for The Maricon Trust to help support her daughters. Donations can also be made through e-transfers using the email, maricontrust@icloud.com.