Well, what an eventful year thus far, and it is only early June. I enrolled in Uni this year to attain my Bachelor of Social Science (Psychology) and so far I’m doing really well. I have been receiving mostly High Distinctions and Distinctions, as well as being awarded a scholarship, so I need to keep my GPA above 4.0. I was so proud to receive academic recognition so early in the journey, but I really love the subjects I am doing and have met some incredible like-minded individuals who want to study as hard as I do and achieve as high results as possible. The MOTH is finally on board with me being a professional student, and I have had some feedback from friends of him telling them how proud he is of me and is so glad to see me back on track after nearly 10 years of being in a funk. It was seven years since my back injury before I returned to TAFE for 18 months, earning my Diploma in Community Service Work – Case Management. I took a year off at MOTH’s request, and it was a horrible year for all involved!
The workload of full-time study has been a bit much, so I’ll still be doing full-time, but only three units next semester, and I can catch up my sub-major (crime and Criminal Justice) online over summer. I have a friend who intends on doing the same, so at least I will have someone to talk over theory with outside of ‘class’. I have found one way to be smarter is to hang around with smart people, so I’m trying to do that with regard to Uni. One young dude, only 18, is super-smart and is in most of my study sessions. I push myself to keep up and answer as quickly as he does (and sometimes beat him! yay me!). It helps me feel like I’m keeping up with everyone and that I’m on the right path.
Now for some sadder news. Poor ol’ Dad came down with pneumonia late April, and the nursing home did all they could to help him fight it. However, on Friday, 25 May 2018, the doctors called to say treatment wasn’t working and it was time to place him on palliative care. My brother, sister-in-law and I visited him the next day, and you could tell he was pretty bad, he was on oxygen and the only thing we could get him to eat was oranges, picked by Allan from a certain tree that Dad loves the oranges from. It made him so happy to just sit there in the sun and enjoy something he loved so much. Allan and I arranged to see him again Tuesday, 29 May, so we could bring him some more of his favourite oranges. He was on his deathbed, and was so happy to see us be there for him in the end. We fed him some oranges, gave him lots of hugs and kisses and told him how much we loved him. When his breathing became quite distressed and the nursing team came running in, we took our leave. We could still hear him as we left the building.
I was expecting the phone call that night, and had an awful night just thinking about how hard it was for Dad to breathe, and that I was hoping he would let go soon as he was in a fair amount of distress. The nursing staff were fantastic and managed his end of life care magnificently. He passed away at around 10:15 on Wednesday, May 30 2018. He looked so peaceful, more at rest than I had ever seen him, and he was off to join his beloved Maggie, whose loss he never recovered from 22 years ago. I like to think their souls have been reunited and they are together again at last. This thinking gives me comfort, as I know how much they loved each other, even if they drove each other bat-shit crazy!
The funeral was held on Tuesday, 5 June at Rookwood, the same place we had Mum’s service all those years ago. It was a lovely and sweet ceremony, and I delivered the eulogy – I found it very cathartic to write, and I found some kind of inner strength to deliver it to a chapel full of people who loved him. It started to rain at the end of the service so it was a mad scurry to the vehicles to head off to a life celebration for Dad at Dooley’s Catholic Club in Lidcombe. It was a great celebration of family and friends, and many stories of Dad were shared. Even one of his half-sisters started to ask me what I knew about that family history given the subtle references I made during the eulogy. I told her we all need to get together, in the near future, and have an honest and open discussion about what we all know. From that we may be able to piece together what has really happened within the family and unravel some family secrets that shouldn’t have been kept this long.
I must say, I am so glad I had Uni to keep me busy throughout this (not that uni hasn’t been without hiccups!). I think I would have broken down and don’t know when I would have stopped. I have shed a few tears, but I have spent the best part of two years waiting for this to happen. I found Dad unconscious in his unit back in August 2016, and after much too-ing and fro-ing, plus an escape from one nursing home, he went into full-time residential care in December 2016. He became very ill in January 2017, and we nearly lost him then, it was only that Allan and I agreed to a feeding tube and him being physically restrained that saved him. We agreed that we would not go that far again, as he never fully recovered from this episode. He apparently had more strokes during this time, and had no clue who we were for about 2 months. He slowly regained his strength, but he could never stand or walk alone, and was forever having falls. We did have some fun visits with him, taking ‘picnics’ for him to pick at, while he listened to us all have conversations about out lives. Every now and then he would try to contribute, but he was suffering from expressive aphasia, so couldn’t get his words out. Mostly when he did talk, it was telling us his cousins were his brothers and sisters – these are the family secrets we all need to talk about. He would sometimes be able to tell us he went out on the bus for a trip and ice cream at Macca’s, but that was about it. When we heard that familiar rattle in his chest, we alerted the staff who commenced treatment that day. Unfortunately, the pneumonia was to claim him this time, but he put up such a fight, right to the very end.
We will miss Dad, he was a big part of our lives. We are going to scatter his cremains at the same place we scattered Mum, Cape Solander at Kurnell. It would be nice to have them available for 4 July, the day we scattered Mum, but we may need to wait until the following weekend for everyone to be available. A toast will be had, and we will again reminisce about the man we all loved.
I’ve got lots to do, just finishing a final essay for Crime and Criminal Justice on the Indigenous peoples relationship with the Criminal Justice System. It’s off being reviewed as we speak, then I’m off to the nursing home with Allan and Julie to say our final thank you’s, pick up anything we need (just a hat that he had, everything else we left for other residents) and then that’s the final part of that process. I’ve got study to do for Understanding Society, pick five questions out of 12 that I really like and write myself some answers. I have until Monday evening to get this done, but I will break this up with my other two subjects, The Individual in Society and Psychology – Human Behaviour.
Til next we meet