Adding water to plastic flowers in a vase
Putting the TV remote in your handbag
Storing cutlery under the pillow
Folding undies and carefully placing them in the fridge
Dementia is my mum’s gift to me. She can’t remember what my children are doing this week, but I’m hearing loads of stories of her long ago boyfriends before my dad.
Dementia is my mum in tears when she can’t remember how to listen to phone messages
Dementia is 4am phone calls when she can’t remember if it’s my sister’s birthday or her wedding anniversary today
Dementia is finding pleasure in patting a kitten for hours at a time
Dementia is not knowing about Facebook or Snapchat or being contactable 24/7
Dementia is driving to the favourite places of my mum’s childhood
Dementia is sitting quietly doing puzzles that aren’t challenging
Dementia is telling all the staff in her nursing home that she is Polish, when her grandmothers were Irish and Welsh and her parents were born in Australia
Dementia is keeping her here long enough to value and appreciate and say thank you and goodbye
We have been gay
Going our way
Life has been beautiful
We have been young
After you’ve gone
Life will go on
Like an old song we have sung
When I grow too old to dream
I’ll have you to remember
When I grow too old to dream
Your love will live in my heart
So kiss me my sweet
And so let us part
And when I grow too old to dream
That kiss will live in my heart
My 90 year old mother has dementia. The word dementia comes from the Latin dementiae. In the dictionary, it is defined as, madness, distraction or folly. The mum I knew is slipping away and all I can do is massage her dry skin with rose scented cream, hold her hand and try to bring her some joy.
Some weeks the phone calls from my mother are so numerous, angry, repetitive and bat shit crazy, that I find myself glancing at shite online trying to distract myself while I listen to her tell me stories that I’ve heard 100 times. These conversations become so bad, that reading updates on LinkedIn seems like a good idea.
But this week I found the upside to my mother’s dementia.We had a cup of tea and then she handed me her mail.
“Do you know what to do about this?” she said. I looked at the envelopes and realised that amongst the bills and a letter from Centrelink, was the ABS voting form for the Same Sex Marriage survey. I grinned.
“Yes mum, yes I do. If any of your friends here in the nursing home need help with this, I can help them too.” Helping people, that is what Christians who want to heal the world can do.
On a sunshiney day at an outdoor gig in a park by the beach in Cronulla, I met a Palestinian man who had come to Australia last year for a better life for his family. His wife and four beautiful children said hello but it was he who needed to talk. To a clown. There is something about wearing a red nose that makes people open up and share their stories.
I told him I thought he was very brave to leave everything and everyone he knew behind to create a life in a new country. He told me in Australia he had hope for his children’s future. He believed that they would have a better life here. He said,
“In eight months we have achieved a lot.”
I told him I thought that it took a lot of courage to start life in a new country, but as I said it, I felt a dread that I’ve never experienced before. I hoped to God that dumb rednecks would not ruin his view that Australia was a peaceful place to be. I hoped that no one made nasty remarks or commented on his accent. I couldn’t bear to mention to him that racism is rife, as I could see a few metres behind him a woman pushing her child on a swing with a southern cross tattoo on her neck
I want an Australia that doesn’t lock people up and torture them because they dare to seek asylum
I want to vote for politicians who consider people in their policies before posturing politicking bullshit
I want uneducated rednecks out of parliament
I want a beautiful Australia where real estate speculators haven’t bought up and ugly-fied every building that happens to overlook a beach.
I want to live in a country that recognises that love is love.
I want aboriginal people recognised in our constitution.
I want $300 lunches to be abolished while people are homeless and kids are going to school hungry.
An end to reality renovation shows
I want to meet this lovely man’s children in 20 years and say, “Your mum and dad wanted you to live in safety so they gave up their friends and family for you to have a chance.” I hope they have a wonderful life, I hope they don’t get teased for their accents. I hope their mum and dad find great jobs and they grow old together, free of war.
And I hope his kids don’t end up voting for idiots
My Dad used to take his teeth out and scare my sister and I by singing this song in the dark when we were growing up. I loved it and my sister hated it. Today would have been my Dad’s 86th birthday. Love you Dad.