Sharing The Joy

On This Day five years ago we left Sydney and everyone we knew to stay for a little while with my parents while we worked out where we could afford to live.

Five years later and we are a little further north of where they were in Lake Macquarie City. Mum has passed away and dad is in a brilliant care home very near us. Their house is looking great as the new owners are engaged in living in every room. Very different from the reality of Alzheimers where my parent’s lives had shrunk down to a bedroom and a combined kitchen dining area and sitting room.

My parents had just been released after spending many many weeks in hospital in April 2012, They had been left at Belmont Emergency Department by my sister who had looked after them for the previous seven months or so and had decided again that she could no longer cope. This happened without my knowledge until my uncle let me know. My parent’s State Guardians did not even let me know.

We had no idea of their condition as we had spent so much time trying to get help for my then husband since Xmas Eve when he first told us he had wanted to jump off the Gap. We had also been unable to visit them while my sister was there as she was being vicious about my putting in papers for Guardianship for my mother. The hospital social worker in July 2012 had put papers in for my father after his then life threatening stroke and I was advised to do the same by ACAT and others. I was actually talked through the process in 2012 by the ACAT nurse assigned to my parents.

We were already traumatised by events in Sydney, leaving behind both good and bad memories there and to see mum especially like that was, well there are no words. She recognised me though and started crying bless her.

Within a few days i had taken them to their many doctors and met their State appointed Guardians. Also many many lovely carers. Karen and Helen especially were brilliant and now are much treasured friends.

We were all taken to Cessnock by my brother to see his family and look at a house we were offered by the Department of Housing there. C had received a text as we travelled north to Swansea about the house actually. It was not suitable as it had too many steps and was in the Ice capitol of Cessnock but we had a wonderful day catching up with my nephews and nieces.

It also clarified for us that we could not be that far away from my parents. After that I did not have time to dwell on anything. Looking after two demented people in a three storey house was not easy but somehow we did it.

Good indeed can come out of bad. Sometimes it seems that one cannot go on. Life can change in an instant. Putting my red lipstick on, gritting my teeth and just getting on with things when it seems it is impossible is second nature to me. Now however I can smile and enjoy getting on with things.

Life is so calm and peaceful here by the lake. I have reconnected with so many friends and made new ones, deepened existing friendships and now have a wonderful man in my life that I both am in love with and love. He is my best friend, my writing mentor, my life teacher. And such an unexpected gift of pure joy. Life is constantly evolving and I am so thankful for the lessons I learned care of dementia.

To live in the moment. To cherish those I love and to take time to visit them and show them that love in action. To take time to share the joy with others, who knows what it might mean to them? We did not know what was going on all those years we visited my parents but know that they were loved and treasured by so many people up here. I would like to think that I am part of the community, that I can be of use to others. The way strangers were so good to me five years ago.

A Few Brief Years

It is my brother’s birthday today. We are deeply estranged, his decision, not mine. I cannot help but think of him on his birthday. I helped bring him up. His many trips to the beach and Wyong Show were spent with me. I knitted all the latest fashions for him including the Starsky jacket in the seventies. I miss him, and the children, being an aunt, loving those children and wanting the best for them. We do have happy memories of a few brief years after dad’s stroke where we got along. Those are all I have now.

Dirty Sweaty and Dishevelled

On This Day five years ago my then estranged husband came with a police escort to collect his belongings. I was quite apprehensive and my son stayed in his room so as not to see him.

He was dirty and sweaty and dishevelled looking which took me back thirty years to the first years of our marriage when he would have periods being a bit odd and not looking after his personal cleanliness.

When he came through the door he would not make eye contact. He was flustered and uneasy, possibly because the police escort were not buying his little boy lost act that he used to manipulate people. That can be fun in a young boy but not in a sixty year old man. I heard him asking them for a lift in the police car as he had not realised how much clothing he had. ( Bought by me I might add) They did not take too kindly to that, told him to take it all downstairs and he could call a taxi.

He made no arrangements to have his thirty years of gifts, furniture, art and collectibles packed up and stored. The real estate agents said if they were not picked up they would organise a house clearance and charge us for it.

Was very relieved when it was over and he had gone. I did not know this man anymore, and wondered if I ever had. I was then able to think about really gutting the place, taking as much as possible to charity shops before we left so they could help others by making some money out of our things.