|1937 Freyberg Apple Tree|
For people outside New Zealand: the grey metal 'bandage' around the bottom of the tree is supposed to prevent possums sneaking up into the tree at night and enjoying a feast. Oh, yes, it works! Just perhaps as a matter of interest in case you've read last year's blog 'A Certain Hill' (15 October 2012, about the view from our house here in Opoho) - you can just see the 'town end' of this hill. The name of the orange rose is Matawhero Magic which we planted in 2010 at the occasion of having lived 50 years in Dunedin. It's been flowering magically.
Miriam has now been in the McGlynn Home for more than two weeks and she is doing well. It's hard for her to accept that this has been a final move. She keeps asking me: 'two weeks'? which has been her respite care time all these years and I'll have to tell her that later this year we probably have to shift and that it would be hard for her to cope with the mess (Dutch: rommel!) in our home. On the surface she accepts this but how much of her doubt is painfully internalised we don't know and most likely never find out.
I still find this final change hard to accept but it's getting better. The day after she moved into her new abode, I kept looking at the clock, wondering what time I could ring the supervisor at Miriam's new home to see how she'd been, had she slept well? Had the taxi been on time for the Learning Centre? The phone went and there was Nylla's voice, reassuring: 'Miriam slept well, had a good breakfast and was happy when she left in the taxi.' Such relief. Twenty minutes later the phone went again: Trudy Scott of the Learning Centre, 'Miriam has arrived in the taxi, she looks well and happy.'
I was allowed to cry, wasn't I? Tears and gratitude for the care and support of everybody involved in this shift - the two people mentioned above; Margaret, the McGlynn social worker and not to forget Zena, the ISIS social worker who helped us in so many ways. What a thrill to meet up again with Katherine who now works at McGlynn but had been Miriam's wonderful and intelligent personal carer years ago. McGlynn are fortunate to have her expertise. And we, we do count our blessings.
During this process of adjusting I was not prepared for the intensity of grief I felt. In an email to my friend Beatrice Hale I wrote about these feelings:
'I thought I had not made Miriam MY life, have written a book about her but still have kept my own life [and interests] all these years. Does caring have this effect on most people when they have to let go? But I'm keeping the Dutch province of Zeeland's motto in mind: Luctor et Emergo - feeling (and being) overwhelmed but still managing to survive which the inhabitants of the Dutch province Zeeland have had to do when facing the overwhelming power of water. And I will manage.'Here is Beatrice's wise answer. She knows what she's talking about as she and two other experts have written a book about caring for carers - Family Care and Social Capital: Transitions in Informal Care. It is hoped that this book will be published later this year (watch this space!).
Miriam will be home for Easter lunch. It will be good.'You wouldn't be you if you didn't grieve so intensely, and of course you will! Why shouldn't you?You are so right, you have made a wonderful life for yourself, and done so much of value, for you and for others.Yes, caring does have this effect on most people … its the nature of the thing, I'm afraid. Grieving for loss, with such intense love … why shouldn't we grieve when we all have to move on? Love and care doesn't switch on and off like a light or a tap.Take care of YOU.'
|March 2012: Miriam, Katherine and Bart at Miriam's new home in South Dunedin.|