Friday Reflection: Why did I wait so long?

I’m ex-RNAS and ex-RNZN. Widowed, six years back, our bedrooms upstairs. Perfect, while both active. However, isn’t there always a ‘however’?

Alone, losing balance, falling down stairs, presents a bit of a health and safety problem.

My daughter urged me to relocate to her in Sydney but an independent, stubborn ex-matelot, didn’t want to leave paradise [in southeast Queensland] and lose all my friends. Looked around at available single level accommodation for a grumpy ‘old geezer’.

A Gumtree advert with a pic of me looking miserable brought a surprising call from a couple who’d bought a home in Robina, with an attached flat. They had their widowed father in mind, but he wouldn’t leave Sydney. ‘Would I care to view?’

A small family welcomed me, offering an armchair, so I sat. A fluffy white Maltese sniffed my hand, jumped straight onto my lap and stayed there throughout my subsequent ‘interview’.

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Their ‘grandpa’ flat was perfect – private, self-contained, a reasonable lease and a family, so friendly, especially the dog. But when they said, ‘We’ll let you know’, expectations weren’t really high. But 20 minutes later, a phone call: ‘If you like the flat, we’d like to have you. The dog can’t be wrong!’

Living with lovely neighbours for six years, I’ve had some rough episodes: two falls, concussion, heart attack, pneumonia, hospitalisation. Nursed by my friends next door, a burden to my daughter in Sydney, dis-remembering to feed and to medicate myself and unable to drive. I was now reliant on partly government-funded care for cleaning and medication reminders a few hours per week, plus buy my food and extras. But my savings were disappearing rapidly.

Did I mention? I’m almost 89 and losing my independence, exacerbated by COVID, forced to give up my RSL voluntary time and visits to a local school of which I’m the very proud patron and whose staff and students have treated me with so much support throughout my loneliest days.

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Conceding that age had finally caught up with me, I investigated using funded respite care in St Vincent’s in Southport. Turned out to be wonderful, so why did I wait so long, putting off taking full-time care?

I’m now a permanent resident, where I’m so comfortable in moderate quarters, with many of my own possessions, fed awesomely, cared for and medicated by especially caring people, across a multiplicity of nationalities – one nurse from Nepal, others from Vietnam, South Korea, the Philippines, Japan, Taiwan, New Zealand, plus many, many Australians. So again, why did I wait so long, putting off going into ‘care’? An ‘eejit’ that’s what!

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Friday Reflection is your chance to write on any topic that stirs you. Simply send your contribution to [email protected] and put Friday Reflection in the subject field. Published authors will receive a $20 Prezzee digital gift card that can be spent at more than 120 retail outlets.

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