It's the Circle of Life...Without All of the Singing

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It's the Circle of Life...Without All of the Singing

by Bonnie Small,
Family Parenting Disability

As children, we often believe that our parents are invincible. They are our first true superheroes, and there is the saying, that nothing in the world feels as tall as Daddy’s shoulders. As we grow up, however, we begin to see things might not have been exactly the way we saw them as children. This was especially true for me once I had my own kids.

A few years ago, whilst I was heavily pregnant with our youngest, my mother said to me over the phone that she had a “bit of a lump” on her head that they were investigating. Two weeks later when they came to our house for Christmas dinner, I took a look at it, scolded her for understating it and asked if they were running tests. She admitted that, yes, they were, and she was waiting for the results. I gave birth a week later to our little-redheaded munchkin, on Mum’s birthday, and a couple of weeks after that, she rang up and told me that the results were in. The name she gave me didn’t stick, Metastatic Something-Or-Other, but I understood the bottom line.

CANCER.

In the end, it was a total of 3 operations and not-quite-8 months from her telling me that she had a “lump”, to her funeral service.

Mum’s passing meant that my Dad, who has a mental illness and is legally blind, was left on his own. Acting on some advice from family “friends” – and against our wishes – he bought a unit at a local retirement village (over an hour’s drive from us) and tried to settle into life without Mum. His heart was broken, and if I’m honest, I don’t think he wanted to be alive without her. It worried us that he was so far away, especially in an emergency, but we muddled through as best we could. Thankfully, my husband has now talked Dad (and his little also-blind dog, Taylor) into moving in with us. I just finished cleaning his unit the other day and handed in the keys to begin the sale process. As I was cleaning the unit out, I began to realize that this might be a bit more than I had expected. He can’t see the mess he’s making – or anything, really – and even making a cup of coffee results in a full-scale cleanup being required. At present, our kettle is next to our dish drying rack, and last night he managed to spill coffee granules a full 3 feet from the location of his cup, as well as all over the floor, and every single clean dish needs to be rewashed.

I’m beginning to understand why Mum had so much trouble keeping a clean house as I was growing up, and also why she always looked so tired and worn out.

As it stands currently, I seem to have come full circle. Where I was once the child, I am now essentially the parent of my own children and my father. I guess that’s the Circle of Life, although I won’t add in the catchy musical number and gratuitous animal appearances. The biggest problem is the lack of “alone-ness”…. I wonder if they run a daycare for older, blind people…?!!