Georgina Guedes

The loss of Beauty

2012-11-08 17:32

Georgina Guedes

Last week Beauty died. She was our domestic worker and my children's nanny, and we loved her dearly. Although her passing has left a gaping hole in our lives that we won't fill in a millennium of trying, our loss is incomparable to what her two children, her sisters and her brother are going through.

Beauty, or Nobuhle, was aptly named; she was a beautiful person, both inside and out. She was one of five women that the employment agency sent for an interview, and as soon as I saw her face, I felt a connection. She immediately engaged with my children, and we bonded over a love of cooking – during her breaks, she would browse through the pages of my cookbooks.

She was with me for my daughter's first day of school and the birth of my son, and I shared her joy (and consternation) at the birth of her second grandchild, and her son's successes at university. While I was on maternity leave, I followed her around the house, chatting about this and that, while my baby slept in my arms.

Then, when Henry was around three months old, Beauty got sick. What seemed like a sore foot and a chest cold turned out to be a heart infection that required months of hospitalisation and rehabilitation. Her sister came to help us out for a while, but after four months, a thinner, slower Beauty came back to us.

And then she improved. She had a monthly clinic appointment to assess the healing of her foot – the first telltale sign of her heart complaint lingered to haunt her. Progress was slow, but she was getting better. She gained weight and she had more energy. I believed that everything was going to be OK.

Then, two weeks ago, I could see that she was struggling again. I asked her what was wrong, and she said her foot was troubling her. I told her to go back to the clinic and she made an appointment for the Saturday. I said goodbye to her on Friday afternoon, having no idea that that would be the last time that I saw her.

They turned her away at the clinic. They told her that she had her scheduled appointment the following week and that they would see her then. She went home. She called me on Sunday to say that she wasn't feeling well, and I told her to go straight to the hospital. The hospital called me on Monday morning to say that she had died in the night. They couldn't explain what had happened.

Losing a loved one is a terrible experience no matter what age the person or what the surrounding circumstances are. But the tragedy is compounded when the death is senseless. I don't know what killed Beauty, but I do know that when she was feeling so terrible she went to a medical facility for help and they turned her away.

There are so many issues that made this possible. The legacy of our past and a blatant lack of respect for human life and individual suffering among those in the medical fraternity combined to result in a wonderful woman being sent home to die without so much as an aspirin.

I know that the government is assessing ways to bring healthcare to everyone in this country and I applaud their efforts even as I question the affordability of doing so with so small a tax base. At the same time, I appeal to the doctors and nurses who treat the masses to remember their humanity and compassion, and do the best that they can at the most important job that they do – preserving life and dignity.

Beauty, you will be sorely missed, and I will do what I can to help your family now that you, your strength, your determination and your love have been taken from them.

- Georgina Guedes is a freelance writer. You can follow @georginaguedes on Twitter.

Send your comments to Georgina

Disclaimer: News24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on News24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of News24.

- News24


The spectre of war

2014-04-17 12:11

Read News24’s Comments Policy publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining

Inside News24

  • Thursday Sir Lowry's Pass - 05:35 AM
    Road name: Old Sir Lowrys Pass Road
    TRAFFIC LIGHTS not working at Bezweni Road
  • Thursday Cape Town - 05:35 AM
    Road name: Buitengracht Street
    TRAFFIC LIGHTS not working at Waterkant Street
More traffic reports...

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Escape winter, head to Mauritius

Escape winter by spending 7 nights in Mauritius' tropical bliss from R13 215 per person sharing. Includes return flights, airport transfers and accommodation. Book now! - shop online today

Get many eggs in one basket!

Gaming bundles: 2 Super Hits games for R99, 3 Disney games for R99 and more + exclusive accessory bundles only available on While stocks last. Shop now!

25% off bestselling books!

The Real Meal Revolution by Tim Noakes, Jeffrey Archer’s Be Careful What You Wish for, Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor E. Frank and many more titles. Shop now!

Up to 25% off electronics

Buy top electronics and save up to 25%. Such as’s 1# selling product the gobii eReader, Patriot X Porter flash drive, Asus Nexus 7” 3G tablet, Samsung Galaxy SIII, Lenovo G580 Notebook and many more. Shop now!

DStv HD PVR Decoder now R949

The DStv HD PVR Decoder has further revolutionised the television experience with lifelike viewing, sharper images, more vibrant colours and precision picture quality. Now R949, save R550. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 30% off appliances & homeware

Save up to 30% on appliances and homeware this Easter! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now.

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Apple iPad 2 White 16GB 9.7" Tablet With WiFi & 3G

Two cameras for FaceTime and HD video recording. The dual-core...

From R5727.00

I'm shopping for:


You may find yourself putting in that extra effort on looking good and making an impression. more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.