I made the first insurance claim after someone drove into Dad’s car, in The Warehouse/Countdown carpark, in South Dunedin.
I was so annoyed. The offender left no details, neither massive shop had cameras in the carpark, and it was going to cost us $400nz to have the dent and scratch repaired.
But then, I was driving home on 30 April, using a turning lane when the vehicle that was meant to give way to me … didn’t.
She slammed into me in the dark and, fully present, I can still remember the lights and this massive cacophony of sound, as she hit the driver’s side on poor little Percy Fish, Dad’s Mazda Demio.
Mr 7 said to me later, on hearing that Percy Fish would probably be written-off … Percy made the ultimate sacrifice for you.
He was right. If I had been hit either side of the actual point of impact, that wouldn’t have been me, climbing out over the passenger’s seat to escape.
I escaped injury, mostly. My head ached for a few days, and I was definitely off-balance but life is leveling out again, and I’m working on all kinds of ‘things I must do’ projects.
We need to find a new car. I think I might have done that today but we need all the details to come together as soon as is possible. So that’s a work in progress.
My little brother, Kim, saw me trying to save for a new laptop. My Dell had done a massive amount of work, over a number of years and I was using an external keyboard and mouse. I had dropped it recently, having hurt my back, and the laptop’s innards were spilling out.
I was turning it on using a pen … applying a gentle amount of steady pressure, and praying a little, each time.
Kim, happy to know that I’m here with Dad, mentioned he had a spare laptop no one at his place was using and voila, that turned up at the weekend.
Now I can spend what I saved on setting the new one up. The ‘new one’ that is exactly like the one I have here on life-support. So that’s something.
I liken using this new one to how people must have felt when electricity first arrived :-) It’s so much simpler than all the pieces, and processes, previously required.
Autumn is here. The morning’s are becoming colder, although we haven’t had a full-on frost yet.
And Dad. Well, he comes and he goes. We had quite a challenging period recently, one that had me thinking he might need to move to 24/7 care but no, he returned, and is as good as ever … kind of.
He started physio on his destroyed knees and, oddly enough, it seems to be helping.
He still loves the RSA. I still love it too. The people there are good people and sitting there, at the blokes table, listening to them chat and mock, or asking their advice on electricians (the bathroom light exploded, into a million pieces, over my head the day after the big night-time accident), and where to find a replacement car … on a budget but reliable.
I’m living on mushroom soup, freshly-made, ignoring the fattening properties of coconut milk. It tastes healthy, and makes me happy. Dad has frozen dinners delivered. Nutritious and what he is used to … roasts, cottage pies and etc. It’s just me doing the soup thing.
It’s okay, I’m getting there. I have accepted that it takes a long time to return ‘home’, after 15 years out in other worlds. I am both resisting, and accepting. I think it’s the only way. I flee Mosgiel whenever I can but accept I must live here while Dad needs me.
I hope to get back into my photographic life, as I carve out the space here in this new life. Perhaps I needed some down-time, while I work out what’s next.
Let’s see it.
Things I love about this much smaller, quieter, life.
Picking flowers from Dad’s garden and filling vases with them, for here in the house.
Washing my bed linen and drying it outside, although it’s Autumn, more or less.
… perhaps, I finally have my New Zealand breakfast organised.
I love driving up over Three Mile Hill and into the city.
In every place I have ever lived, there has been a preferred mode of transport, a preferred route … always the prettiest way, where possible.
In Antwerp I rode the trams, avoiding some routes in preference of others. Miss 14 and I, as often as was possible, always chose the prettiest route. In Genova, I eventually worked out I preferred walking. In Istanbul, the metro, never the bus. In Berlin, the same. And in the UK, the Underground, and then the Chatterbus, while living in Surrey.
I think, more and more, I understand that I am simply someone who wants to enjoy every moment possible, even the ordinary moments … as opposed to saving up, believing that holidays are the only time where we savour life and seek joy in the little things like the route.
I have lost, and am in the process of, finding my New Zealand-self. my daughter-self, in these months of moving in with my Dad.
His Dementia/Alzheimer’s gets a little worse every week … I think, sometimes. Other times, he seems to be holding nicely. People who had been watching Dad decline, while he was living alone, say he improved dramatically when I moved in. And I’m sure he did. I think loneliness and boredom, anxiety too, are huge factors in the general well-being of our elderly parents.
He has surprised me with some new ‘thing’ weekly. Most recently, while I was out and about, he phoned to tell me where he was, and to ask me how he would get home. The first time he did it, I was horrified. I thought he’d walked along the street some, and given the condition of his knees, wandering hinted at a whole new level of me needing to be home and watching out for him.
But no, he was looking out through his huge lounge window, telling me the buildings he could see from there. He just didn’t realise he was at home. As he described it, I heard him talk himself back in the Now, and he laughed, saying, ‘This Is my house, isn’t it?!’
So he loses his memory, periodically. Forgets the day, who I am, and where things are. We had a spectacular moment the other day … his pills hadn’t been delivered, he told me on the Sunday. Monday he needed to begin the new series. I was there at the pharmacy, first thing in the morning, only to discover his pills Had been delivered …
So I raced home and began the search, finding them in the linen cupboard, eventually. The same place he, so carefully, put his laundry one day. Forgetting, he accused me of stealing his underpants …
I pick up his medication now. It’s better that way.
But that said, he only has these ‘moment’s, and generally he’s good. And so happy he can still live at home. He shuffles out each morning, groaning over his destroyed knees that can’t be replaced because of his two heart conditions, to get his newspaper and check the world is still there.
And I have to leave him to it, or risk stealing his independence … his reasons for being.
He showers himself, and dresses, with help from the caregivers who come in to put on his pressure stockings.
The care-givers are generally lovely. They give me a little bit of freedom, as I can mostly rely on them. It’s the times when they let me down, usually at the weekend … last minute. I think there are so many out there, needing them.
A little bit of freedom, so strange for this girl who has always tried to wander off and away.
But maybe it’s time I stood still again. I have this book still to write, and it is persistant. I carry it with me where ever I go and so …
So … here I am, like a cat, turning and turning until I can settle down and find that sweet-spot to write. Creating some kind of routine, if that’s even possible, here in this life of mine :-) It’s a much quieter life. I wander alone most of the time but I always have really.
I am learning how to be here.
And sometimes … sometimes I find a little whisper of Genova, and her beautiful ancient caruggi, here in Dunedin, New Zealand.
My 'holy moment' breakfast was almost holy this morning ...
I have my ground coffee, and my little espresso machine is making me so happy.
I had a bagel, as introduced to me by Kim back when I lived with her and Andy in Farnham, and apricot jam (I can't find peach in NZ), and good butter ...
I have this little $29nz speaker that improves the sound quality of Jack Savoretti, Coldplay, Paolo Nutini and the rest of my playlist on my laptop.
The kitchen door is open because it's Saturday, and the blokes removing abestos at the school next door are at their homes.
The sun is intense already, the sky is blue, and I have nothing and nowhere I have to do or be.
This is where I've been reading in the evenings. Trying not to drink red wine but, you know ... sometimes :-)
I loved photographing these guys.
So happy after their marriage …
I gifted them a cd full of the photographs I took of them.
7.30am, and I roared up to the supermarket. Dad had run out of tomatoes, and he absolutely requires them, on toast, as part of his morning routine.
Mmmm, the supermarket doesn't open until 8am.
I wandered along to the main street cafe I used, pre-coffee machine and sat there a while, reading.
I was the 3rd one in those supermarket doors this morning ...
I’m listening to Jack's latest song, and really liking it..
The foto: I was talking to Dad, in the lounge, after a rainsoaked Sunday and noticed the sun glistening outside on the flowers. I had to, at least, attempt capturing something of the beauty …