Since the family went home the house is quiet. I know it was quiet before with only me here but it is a different kind of quiet now. I will have to get a new stereo and blast the quiet away. I am sad now too. While the family were here I tried to keep a smile on my face. That can only be kept up for a certain time and it becomes a strain. It is like trying to be something you are not. Now if I am sad I can let tears run down my face, wipe my eyes, wash my face and it is all over - for now.
I have been surprised by all the cards I am getting with condolences from people I have hardly heard from over the past few years. As a caregiver you think that because no-one visits that no-one remembers you, that your friends have fled, that your family are always too busy. Now that all seems to be melting away. People are remembering Ray as he used to be, the gentle, helpful, friendly man that so many people knew and loved. Why did his illnesses cloud the issue and make his friends stand at a distance rather than be close by to help us? We are all human, all frail, all helpless sometimes to know what to do, how to help. We have to forgive others for that.
It is such a pity that compassion is so overcome by the fear of the unknown, the unarticulated, I would have thought that we, a mature and knowledgeable people, could have overcome that by now but it seems not, we are still afraid of illness and death and the "otherness" of mental illness. I wonder if the generations that follow will do better? I hope so , for the sake of my children and grandchildren.
I have made a little progress with the paperwork, still awaiting a lot of forms that will start the changing over of the bills to my name, I think the providers don't really care whose name they are in as long as someone pays. Other things will take longer but it doesn't matter, there is enough to keep me going. I will slowly get back to the things that are important in my life. I go to church but cannot concentate enough yet to be part of the team. I will go back to Lions and to various other meetings before the month is over. tI doesn't do to stay at home and mope, I need to be out among people again.
Today something weird happened. I locked myself into the spare bedroom. I have been having trouble with the lock on the door and today it locked itself with me on the inside! I rattled and banged and twisted the handle but nothing happened so I had to punch out the flyscreen and climb out the window onto the verandah. I threw out pillows to step down onto and managed a dignified landing. Looks like I need to get a handyman in to fix some of my problems before a disaster happens.
There are a long list of things that need to be done here so I will have to work out what is priority and what can be left a while. I need to spend what little I have access to wisely. The house is suffering from long term neglect. All I have been doing is having a quick look at the problems that have occurred and done some kind of fix, now I will have to look at fixing things for the future. It is not something I am good at but I am going to have to learn what needs to be done and get someone to do it.
This is the house that Ray built onto three times. It started as a single bedroom cottage and now has three bedrooms, a front verandah and a back patio. It was big enough to raise three kids in and has been big enough to host visitors and returning members of the family. When Mum and Dad came here in 1999 to stay with us while Dad spent his last four months on earth we had Mum in the front bedroom and Dad, at his own request, slept in a hospital bed on the back verandah. Sometimes as I sit here late at night I imagine I can hear him snoring but I know it is only the sound of the wind in the trees I can hear.
My friends are already questioning what the future holds for me. I am not offended because I know it is natural to wonder what is ahead. I am going to stay on here for a couple of years if I can. It would be foolish to sell hastily and I have a lot of cleaning up to do. Of course it is possible the house will be purchased and demolished, good land on the coast is hard to come by so people do do that. I will not worry about that now. I just need to keep walking forward a day at a time and let G*d take care of the rest.