jmgoyder

wings and things

Changing

Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.

George Bernard Shaw

I have changed my mind so many times over the last few years, months, weeks, days, minutes, moments, about how to best care for a husband, 79, in a nursing home, and our son, 21, embarking on adulthood. It’s doubtful whether Ming will want chooks in his future life!

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Not very long ago, whenever people talked about the weather, or gardening – whether it be small-talk or serious-talk – I would tune out. I have never been the least bit interested in anything relating to the actual job/hobby of gardening despite numerous attempts to get interested.

Okay, I got interested many times; but I didn’t remain interested, mostly because I was busy working at the university and bringing up the beautiful brat, Ming (who, by the way, isn’t interested in gardening either.)

Gardening was Anthony’s ‘thing’. His family (mother and younger brother) came here in the late 1950s to run a dairy farm and Anthony began planting things – camellias, palms, silver birches, flame trees, roses, citrus, hedges … and a whole lot of other stuff.

Up until the year before the nursing home, Anthony was still interested in planting, watering, and wandering about, in the garden. But he would get stuck! We only had the walking stick then so he would go out the back to check on a hose and then become paralysed and sometimes it took a whole hour to get him back to the house. Then, one day, when he was in his armchair in front of the fireplace, I told him not to move while I went up to the shop to get some supplies, only to find him face-down in the front yard; he’d fallen again!

Parkinson’s disease (and all of its off-shoots, including dementia) is an ever-changing condition that can make life tricky for those who care for family and friends inflicted. For example, sometimes I can show Anthony photos of home – the new chooks, the better-kept garden, the mowed lawns etc. and he will think he has been home.

But, at other times, Anthony will ask to come home and I will have to distract him. This is not because I don’t want him to come home; it’s because he is mostly immobile now so I actually can’t physically manage him. The guilt is ghastly of course but it is easily blitzed by my almost-daily company, in the nursing home, during the afternoons. And photos of the new chooks!

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This morning this wonderful group of gardening people came over (it’s a group I’ve recently sort of joined) and each person had a good piece of advice for me. Plus everyone brings some produce to exchange – fascinating!

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I am changing into a gardening person!

Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.

George Bernard Shaw

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Things that go bump in the night

You know the other night when Ming and I had that argument and he fled from my wrath to his shed? Well, the argument was about the fact that even though he moved into his shed months ago, he still hadn’t cleared a lot of his stuff out of his bedroom in the house. I had been extreeeeeeeemely patient about his procrastination until that night, when I snapped, the reason being that this bedroom was to become my new office so that I can get out of this little back veranda hovel that the mice like to invade (they like paper).

After Ming stomped off to his shed, muttering things like “You always make me feel so bad”, and me shouting, “Just clear your stuff out tomorrow or I will chuck it all out the front door!” he and I reconciled via texts and he promised to do the job the next day.

Well he kept his promise because at exactly midnight I was awoken by some very noisy activity in his ex-bedroom (which is adjacent to mine). I lay there grinning like a hyena listening to what I realized was Ming moving his stuff out of that room. This went on for about an hour and then all was quiet again, I tiptoed into the next room to find it totally empty! Elation! Then, on the hall table, Ming had left a long list of things he would do when the sun came up. I grinned again and went back to bed.

It wasn’t until after breakfast, that I discovered that he had simply moved all of his stuff into the living room! But it’s okay now – all of it is in his shed which now resembles the chaos of a crime scene (what happened to my neat and tidy boy?)

But my room is ready for me now and I am so excited! It is a room with lots of history because it used to be Anthony’s mother’s room, then it was the office where I wrote my PhD, then it was Ming’s childhood bedroom. We have now taken the huge musk-pink carpet mat out (over 40 years old) to reveal the beautiful jarrah floorboards, and Ming has vacuumed from corner to corner and cleaned the windows inside and out, and we have arranged for a handyman to fix the cracks and holes in the wall and ceiling. Then we will get my painter friend in to paint it crimson (just joking – white!)

It is a big, light-filled room with a view to the front paddock from the north-facing windows. That’s where I will put my desk, computer etc. tomorrow!

The interesting thing about this little adventure is that, for me, it feels like I will have my own beautiful space in this house for the first time in 20 years. It’s not that I felt deprived but, having married an older man and moved into an already established household, I have never quite felt a sense of ownership and, in terms of making any sort of mark, I have done very little in the way of interior decorating, renovating or changing anything – so much so that when Anthony’s relatives drop in they feel they have stepped back in time!

I have decided to call this old/new room my writing room. A new beginning. It will be wonderful to move out of the hovel of an office I am in now where things go bump in the night constantly, especially in the ceiling where rodents, goannas and possibly snakes have sprinting competitions.

Ah, the joy of change!

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Changeling!

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Yesterday afternoon I made a sudden decision to put Gutsy9 outside for the night, so Ming and I took him out to the chookpen, where he has been spending most of the afternoons lately, and put him in the big cage with food and water.

At dusk I snuck out to see how he was coping and sat at a distance, so he couldn’t see me. He was trotting back and forth in the cage and making his little howling sound, but he was also eating and drinking.

Eventually, when I could see that he would cope, I went into the pen, sat on the ground next to his cage and poked my finger through to stroke his head and he made a little trilling sound – happy. And even when I left him, he didn’t howl. But I came back into the house a bit teary.

Well, he was absolutely fine this morning! As soon as I let him out, he galloped after me into the house, straight to my office, flew up onto my lap and went straight to sleep while I did some writing.

He’s outside again tonight, but he isn’t howling – phew! He is becoming a peacock finally and the adult peas have almost stopped pecking him.

Don’t look back, my little changeling.

(Note: the pic. is nearly 4 months ago – G9 is a big boy now!)

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Change

Some people love Change and some people hate it. Change sometimes causes terrible conflicts – in relationships, workplaces, countries, and in all sorts of different contexts – when one ‘side’ embraces Change, and the other ‘side’ doesn’t.

I used to love Change until too many changes happened at once, and then I craved stability, but that got a bit boring!

So it is now back to Change again – yeeha – because Change is wonderfully malleable. You can change Change; after all, that is its nature.

I have learned that if you don’t welcome Change, it will bite you anyway – not nastily, just in a nibbly way.

Change and I are buddies again and it has been a fantastic day!

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