Monthly Archives: November 2014

Tree of Strength (a poem about resilience)

Tree of Strength (a poem about resilience).

This powerful poem was written by my dear friend, Pooky. It touched me so deeply I felt compelled to share it.

You Don’t Know

If you’ve never lived the reality
Of no longer being able to wash your body
You don’t know

If you’ve never been the person
Who washes a stranger’s body with kindness and compassion
You don’t know

If you’ve never been the person
Who helps to maintain the dignity of those who are ill or disabled
You don’t know

If you’ve never wept in frustration
Because you can no longer manage the simplest of tasks
You don’t know

If you’ve never experienced relief in a carer’s empathy
When you’re having a bad day
You don’t know

If you’ve never had a carer gently coax you
To allow them to put cream on your thin bruised broken skin
You don’t know

If you’ve never had a carer match their steps to yours
Because you struggle to breathe and walk at the same time
You don’t know

If you’ve never had a carer do your shopping for you
Because they can see ‘today’ you have no energy
You don’t know

If you’ve never experienced a carer’s ability
To help while giving you a sense of independence
You don’t know

If you’ve never had a carer clean your home
Respectfully moving your husband’s ashes
You don’t know

If you’ve never seen that same carer
Intuitively do something you wanted doing but hadn’t wanted to ask
You don’t know

If you’ve never experienced terrifying flashbacks because of a change in routine
Been calmed and comforted by the nurse who knows your history
You don’t know

If you’ve never experienced a momentary ‘my life is not worth living’
Yet moved back from the abyss because you have the support of carers
You don’t know

If you’ve never experienced the laughter a carer brings
Known the comfort of being wrapped in a towel on a cool morning
Sat and wept while a carer runs warm water on your back
Because the day is the anniversary of your son’s death
If you’ve never been a carer
Looked after people in the most intimate of ways
At the same time enabling them to experience a sense of independence
Never complained to your client when they’re having a ‘bad day’
You don’t know

You might think you know
But trust me
If you’ve not lived it
From either side of the spectrum
You don’t know

I know my carers are friendly but not my friends
I know there are rules to protect both client and carer
I know there will always be a few who’ll break the rules
I know the majority are good and caring people
I know I’m not allowed to give gifts to my carers
I didn’t realise this applied to Christmas

After all I give a gift to my gardener my postie
My doctors
Their receptionists
Just small things to acknowledge their kindness
These people are not my friends either
But they are friendly and I’m grateful

To refuse to allow me to give a small gift of gratitude
After all I receive at the gentle hands of my carers
Takes away the sense of independence
They spend the year imbuing me with
Do you know how hard it is to constantly accept help
Without being able to give anything in return

When you refuse to allow me to give
An end of year gift of gratitude to my regular carers
And the support staff
I know
You don’t know

Tricia 11/2014

Voluntary Euthanasia

Why is it impossible in Australia
To have the peace of mind
Legalised Voluntary Euthanasia
Would bring
Preachers and politicians
Puritans and pseudo carers
Believe they know what is right
For a person they’ve never met
Where were these paragons of public good
When the small child was being
That child through
Shear force of will
Grew to adulthood
Found precious unconditional love
Learnt she was worthy
Entitled to make choices
Grew to love fiercely
Survived the not wanting to survive
After the death of her husband and son
Worked to help others
Who were broken by bereavement
Seared by suicide
She now lives alone in her sanctuary home
Traversing the steep learning curve
That comes with
Life limiting illness
Trying to find her new normal
Amidst the relentless slipping away of
With age and growing disability
And the absence of her husband’s loving support
Her childhood vulnerability
Fears and flashbacks sporadically assail her
She still has a wicked sense of humour
Finds joy in small things
Plays in her fashion
Listens with empathy
To friends and family
Writes to reach out
Shares her thoughts and feelings
Hopefully helping herself and others
In the process
Yet she knows
In the depth of her being
There is one thing she will never again do
Submit herself to the vagaries and vulnerability
Of institutional life
No more hospitals
Her last two hospital stays
Were punctuated by unnecessary suffering
Lack of empathy
Attempted religious manipulation
No care facility for her
Just the thought of them
Brings back her boarding school terrors
She loves her home carers
On bad days
She panics
Fears losing these wonderful empathetic women
For she knows
Without their help
She’d have to leave her home
That’s why she wants
The right to voluntary euthanasia
Not for right now
It’s the peace it would bring
She’d never again have to fear
Being at the mercy of the merciless

Tricia 2014

Running Repairs

She knows she has been broken,
partially repaired,
and yet
still the stuffing oozes.
A quick oversew here,
trimming excess stuffing there
what to do
with the cutoff pieces?

Tricia 11/2014