Today it is raining, not the rain of summer with thunder and lightning and spectacle, but the quiet , gently falling rain that tells me the seasons are changing and autumn (fall) is here. There is no dramatic changing of leaves or other signs to tell us, just gradually falling temperatures, shrinking daylight hours and the lessening warmth of sunlight. Daylight saving ends next Sunday and that will mean earlier evening mealtimes as the days draw in rapidly. It is a time for packing summer clothes away, reviewing what will stay and last another season and what will go to the charity shops or the rag bag.
I've been looking for something to do with this time when I will have to stick close to Ray for a while. Previously I could at least go for a walk while he slept or visit a friend down the road, or walk down two streets to post a letter while he is having an afternoon nap. Now because of his fragility I am not going to leave him on his own . So I need a new hobby to keep me from going mad imagining I am confined by this new state of affairs. Sure I have here to escape to but I need other hobbies too to keep me interested in life while inside the house. So with that in mind I am sorting through heaps of boxes of junk in search of all those photos I've been meaning to put into order and haven't. And that has released a treasure trove of memories.
I wish I was one of those people who could say:" This is when we were in Queensland in 1989, we met those people Mum and Dad knew, who lived in the corner house and had tea with them in that converted boathouse by the river." My Dad would have been able to do that. He remembered everything he ever did, most of the people he ever met and a lot of the conversations he had had almost as if they had just happened. I have the kind of mind that recalls something if my memory is jogged as I did just then when I remembered we did meet old neighbours on a holiday in Queensland.
So I have decided I will give them a rough sort and see if I can connect memories to them. All those trips on holidays in various beauty spots must contain some happy memories. We often used our holidays to visit friends, catch up with family, give the kids a new experience. So there have to be a lot of things I can recall if I just put my mind to it. Ray isn't much help now either as he has very little long term memory he can access. But Trevor might be able to remember some of the events if not the years.
Today Ray had a phone call from an old friend. I have kept up an email relationship with his wife but Ray and Des have not talked for maybe four years. Des was invalided by an enormous tumor on the brain that took two operations to incise and six months in hospital to recover from, that was 24 years ago. His wife has been his caregiver as he was left with brain injury that mimicked a severe stroke. He is a cheerful, larger than life character who has learned to live with the misadventure that left him severely disabled. Some of this is due to an assortment of friends who stuck with him and kept him afloat. They and his wife and her family have kept him comfortable, well looked after and with the feeling that life still holds a lot of promise. They are two people of faith who live life as well as they can, and in doing so provide a fine example to others.
Des rang because he was worried that Ray's new problems would be too much for us and we would part company. He rang to comfort us and tell us that life is what you make it, each day is worthwhile and you have to get on with the hand you have been dealt. He talked about how wonderful his wife has been to him and how grateful he has been for the past twenty odd years they have had together. It is humbling to realise sometimes that those with bigger burdens than we have ourselves have much to teach us about gratitude. This was a phone call worth much more than he could imagine as it made me more determined to go on and strive to rebuild our lives once more.
We all have powerful lessons to learn and the wisdom we gain from those lessons to share with others. We can be down and climb back up again. We can be despised and rejected and maintain our self respect. We can be sidelined and yet live in such a way that we provide a safe and secure place, like this site, for others to come to. Life is not impossible to live with our restrictions it is just a bit harder. No sissies here, just a few people striving to push the stroke to the back of their minds and carry on living.
The phone call was nothing like a sermon. His quirky sense of humor shone through. He recalled one mate he had been close to and says he never sees him now, :"If they can't hack it, let them go" he said. "You have to stick with the people who stick with you." This is a lesson I have to learn over and over as I yearn to go back to the life we lived pre-stroke. I have to keep letting it all go, over and over, until it really does GO. Then I can move on and start to rebuild. I AM grateful to the people that have stuck with us and the new friends we have made through the experiences we have shared in the past seven years. It is true "that which does not break us, makes us strong" but it doesn't say how battered and bruised the experiences sometimes leave you, but all bruises fade eventually.
Neither Ray and I can go back even ten weeks ago to when I didn't have to monitor his movements and use the wheelchair to run him in and out of church. There is never any going back. The critical event happens, the consequences are our new reality. We just have to get on with it. That doesn't mean there is not plenty of good times ahead. Just that I have to accept that they will be different to what I imagined life would be at this point in time.