Fast-forward 7 years and Nanna had a stroke. There were no indicators, no warning signs, no way of knowing. She was taken to the hospital, and after a week the prognosis didn’t look good. They move her in the palliative ward, and made her comfortable. However, like Grandad she was a fighter and in the same vain as her astrological trait, she remains as suborn as a mule (or bull as the case maybe) and refused to give up. After weeks in the hospital Nanna finally returned home and Mum resumed her caring role.
Unlike when Mum was caring for Grandad, she was now 10 years older, her social group has dwindled, employment was
impossible and the realisation that Nanna could live for another 10 years would be daunting, if not depressing. However, my
Mum is not one to complain, or ask for help, she just ensured Nanna was comfortable and happy.
Maybe it’s her pride, or maybe it’s the genetically passed on trait of stubbornness, whatever the case my Mum is a silent sufferer, just like millions of other Australians who also provide care for their loved ones.
It’s clear; the circle of life has indeed gone full circle, and the carer has become the care recipient. Giving back to those that have cared for us is everything.
In 2015, whilst out pounding the pavement during my afternoon walk, I decided it was time, time to push the go button on an idea that I’d had some years earlier. The idea had become lost in my own selfish pursuit for self-validation and financial security. A keeping up with the Jones’s if you will. However, after a few rough years on the business front I came crashing back down to earth after my ego was put in check, when at 31 years of age, I was moving back home with Mum.
Once the bruised ego healed and I picked my bottom lip up off the ground, I realised the universe works in mysterious ways. You see, living away from home had made me forget how full on the life is for an informal carer. I had forgotten how time consuming, emotionally draining and socially inhibiting this role is. I had a sound appreciation of this when I was living at home with Mum in my early 20s, helping her change, bath and feed Grandad. It was raw and front of mind. Each day was different from the last. Some days he would be good, smiling and remaining his cheeky self, despite being confined to a bed. On others he would appear absent, dazed and confused.
The passing of my grandfather in late 2006 was a bittersweet moment. This is a man who I had looked up to, who had taught me to tie my shoelace, unhook a flathead from my fishing line, supported my education and who received a can of WD-40 and a block of Cadbury Fruit and Nut chocolate every birthday from yours truly. I loved him. But I also love my Mum, and watching her daily struggle was heartbreaking.