by Helen Wilde
Yesterday my littlest sister flew from Melbourne to Adelaide to visit our mother, who is 91 & living with dementia in a Nursing Home. We were fortunate to be able to catch up for lunch, together with two of our other sisters, a gorgeous niece & a precious 3 yr old great niece. We actually took some photos which I will post on our Dine In for Diabetes page, when I get the time! There were 3 pwd’s at the table. LOL.That was an explosion of wonderful!
My morning had already held some good moments. I learned a long time ago that there is wonderful in the minutiae, the small details of life; a rose, a bright morning, a child putting his hand in mine spontaneously. Yesterday morning was very special. Before meeting my sisters etc for lunch, I was able to represent Diabetes Counselling Online as a Volunteer at a meeting with Channel 9 Telethon.
There were about 50 of us visiting Channel 9, representing 21 Charities. First we had a tour of the News studio, where we were treated to an “insiders’ view’ behind the scenes of how the News & Weather are put together . Then we were informed in a very professional way of all the exciting opportunities in the year ahead for Volunteering & raising funds for our own Charities. It helped that I was able to park my car in leafy North Adelaide, a large leafy square away from the studios, so that I walked across wet spongy grass, amongst roses in bright Autumn sunshine to my meeting.
I picked one of those roses, such a metaphor for life, the thorny stem, the explosion of soft scented colour at the apex. I added it to the brown paper bag that held my sister’s birthday gifts.
At lunch, one of my sisters gave us all a wonderful experience. Before Christmas, which was the first one for years where we had not held a large family gathering, we had each handed over gifts to be passed on to the children in the family. Three of those gifts had lodged at Vivienne’s home since then. They were Ruby’s gifts. Each had been bought with love. And Ruby was at lunch! So we 3 great Aunts got to give Ruby her gifts personally. Each gift was opened & appreciated with great solemnity, awe, & happiness. Her little face beamed with the unexpected delight of it all. For the rest of the day, the hearts of us old great Aunts, Ruby’s Grandma, & Ruby’s Mum were warmed by her childish sense of wonder & joy.
We said our goodbyes & headed off to our afternoons, work, driving home, & my littlest sister to the Nursing Home. We all knew there would be difficulty & sadness involved in her visit, & wished her well & thanked her.
In the early evening, I sent my littlest sister an SMS. I hoped she had a good flight, & that her visit had not been too hard. She responded: ‘There were moments of wonderful”. I knew exactly what she meant.
Two days before I had experienced some ‘moments of wonderful’ with Mum. I had rung before visiting, & Mum had spoken on the phone. She said she was fine, but was very annoyed about the weather, which was seasonably cool (it is autumn, after all). I said, yes, it is cool today, it might rain, & she replied, “I know, & I was going to play Tennis.” Mum uses a wheelchair &/or a wheelie walker to get around, her tennis days are at least 60 years behind her. But I loved her feisty response to the weather. I always dread speaking to Mum on the phone, she says, “I can’t hear you. I’m putting the phone down.” Which she does. Literally. Without hanging up. This phone call made me laugh out loud, although of course I sympathised about missing out on the Tennis, & said I’d be there to visit in half an hour.
My sister would have had some ‘moments of wonderful’ yesterday where Mum was affectionate & loving, where she appreciated that Kathryn was wheeling her about, trying to make her happy, & where she appreciated the long exhausting trip Kathryn was putting in just to visit Mum. There would also have been lots of difficult minutes & half hours, as Mum’s dementia means she can’t remember new things. Like being visited by her loving daughters. Or the conversation a moment ago where all her fears & concerns were explained & put to rest. That is a great sadness. So the metaphor of the rose fits a visit to Mum very well.
On two mornings this week I have had some tiny visitors to my garden, bringing me some tiny ‘moments of wonderful’. Little native birds, White Eyes, hanging upside down in the wild fennel I grow just for them. Apparently flowers & seeds are equally tasty. I can watch them through my bedroom window, lying in bed in the morning light.
Living with diabetes is never easy. We cannot forget about it, or ignore it: if we do so it is at our peril. The stress is very great. We have to be responsible, sensible, pro active. We can get so caught up in our problems, complexities, responsibilities that we forget to notice the ‘moments of wonderful’ that happen almost every day. It’s easy to focus on pain, on difficulty, on practicality; on guilt, on wanting; on dissatisfaction, anger, or resentment. The negatives clamour for our attention. By noticing the small ‘moments of wonderful’, we become intrinsically peaceful, more accepting, philosophical. We become Mindful, we remember to live in the moment. Those difficult things become easier to bear, to manage, to work through, to let go; or to change.
Helen was a Senior Counsellor with Diabetes Counselling Online, Teacher, and is parent to someone living with Type 1 diabetes since 1979. She has been living with Type 2 diabetes herself since 2001.