Tuesday 17th May 2022

What Is 17 May All About? #HNC. 5 Years. 32/2022.

What Is 17 May All About? #HNC. 5 Years. 32/2022.

It’s 17th May 2022 as I write.

I wasn’t planning a post but this date “made me do one”.

It’s because 17 May 2017 was a hugely significant day in my life, as it was the day I was told I had squamous cell carcinoma in my upper gums.

The story has been told in a few places, here for the first post,  by me, but today I want to use pictures more than words!

Marking the time I knew I had cancer.

 

My progress: 2017 into 2019

 

2019: 2 years ‘reward’

And going to Sydney to see Hamilton as my 4th year ‘reward’…very special:

 

Each May, I have both remembered and because of my relatively good progress with recovering from this form of cancer I had, I like to appreciate my teams and my healing body too. And to my husband and family and friends (on-line and off!) : you all help my healing with your kindness, love and care. Thank you.

And now: 5 years on.

I admit it feels somewhat surreal. Perhaps I couldn’t ever see it coming? No matter, it has arrived. I am here. I am very glad to be well. Here’s my photos from today: Tuesday 17 May 2022.

Special way to remember:

The word ‘heart’ means a great deal to me after using the song, Heart, as part of my self-care and courage building on my many, many drives to and from Westmead for long stays in the chair…and of course, heart is connection to those I love, and who love me…and the universal message of love is about caring.

My ‘gift’ to me is this: a bracelet with links of hearts and infinity symbol because love is forever….

Thank you to everyone from my heart.

Denyse.

17.05.2022.

Joining in with Natalie for Weekend Coffee Share later this week.

Thank you Natalie.

https://natalietheexplorer.home.blog/

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Fifteen Years Ago. Why 5 March Matters To Me. 14/2022.

Fifteen Years Ago. Why 5 March Matters To Me. 14/2022.

CW: death, mourning, grief

 

Today is Saturday 5th March 2022 and it marks 15 years since my dear mother died.

I say “died”…because the messages/words around death need to be used as they are meant to…to  convey meaning, not to confuse. I heard recently of a person being told on the phone, that a loved on, in a care home, was “gone” and that confused the recipient even more, because “where had he gone?”

About her 80th Birthday.

Mum said to Dad after attending yet another person’s funeral, “why do people wait till others die before telling them what they meant to them?” She was right. So, for her 80th Birthday, 6.12.2004, we hosted a Family Birthday Dinner and Celebration of Mum. I made a timeline with photos and the story of her life, and we were all there for her. Her husband, her adult kids and their partners, her adult grandkids and 3 grandchildren…and we shared words to her, in written form, cards and a speech of sorts. In looking back at the night, because I recently found the photos, there is a little video of Mum speaking about the gratitude she has for us all. I found that very touching and I am so glad I have it.

over 17 years ago! My brother & I with our parents.

Mum & Dad with B & Me, and our two children. 2004

Mum was the birthday cake maker….but not for her 80th. The look is so much my Mum…and the 3 great grandkids helped her with those candles.

I wrote back in 2017 for Telling My Story, a little of Mum’s history and what happened to her health after the celebration of her 80th Birthday.

Up until Mum’s 80th Birthday in December 2004 she had been quite well. A few so-called minor things were wrong and I know where my worry/anxiety gene comes from. But my mum, just as I do, could put on a smile no matter what.

So, we as a family watched over our Mum as her health, and with that her demeanour changed. Speaking to Dad now he says “she just wasn’t the same” and I know now why. In the course of her eventual hospitalisation in late January 2007 and an MRI, Mum was diagnosed with secondary brain tumours. Her downward health spiral the 2 or so years before had including symptoms of bad pain and some tremor but despite some doctors’ advice and care, Mum was a very scared reluctant visitor to doctors and specialists…and to hospitals. Obviously it was based on fear and Dad had to do what he could to convince Mum to get help and care. A big challenge. So, after the diagnosis of the secondary brain tumours, there was some ideas of what her primary cancers might have been but there was no way to know and Dad decided against an autopsy.

And now it’s the 15 Years Anniversary.

I don’t really know WHY this one is standing out to me but I am making some guesses:

  • Dad had a stay in hospital this week and whilst he is now back home, he is a visually impaired and mobility challenged, fully cognisant 98 year old. So, yes, I did get concerned “this may be his time” early this week.
  • Dad has no more peers, nor family members alive. Those who are his friends where he lives are in their 70s and 80s.
  • Dad says he missed Mum more than ever. I suspect with the added loneliness and covid restrictions he IS indeed lonely.
  • I finally accepted that his death will be a shock despite what I logically know
  • I am now, thank goodness, well enough and better in myself emotionally, to realise the significant of my Mum dying
  • I was a pretty distant daughter in my own way but that was because of “my” views of me, and perceived critical views of me by my mum.

Here’s why I needed to write and post today.

  • I appreciate now more than ever the mother Mum was to me
  • I was, and still can be, someone who is a challenge in relationships…mostly fuelled by my old ways of seeing me
  • I know that she gave me unconditional love
  • I know I WAS loved
  • I know that by sharing this now, I may be feeling more loving towards my Dad too.

He and I will chat today on the phone and I will listen to his thoughts.

We only have one chance at this thing called LIFE and I wanted to write more to enable this to be seen and viewed by me and others.

My Tribute in This Image & Words. 5.3.2022.

 

This was going to be a facebook tribute but then I changed to a blog post. I now am pleased to have done this.

Today, Mum, it’s 15 years since you died.

Wow. You had been quite unwell for around 2 years before this, and it was via secondary brain tumours that you succumbed.

Dad is missing you more than ever as he ages alone at 98, having left the home you shared together 4 years after your passing, to live at Dee Why.

Thanks for your love, presence, care and support in my life growing up. And then when Ibecomea mum, a very young one, married to B, another teacher & living in remote northern NSW.

Thanks too for the love, care and cooking for our family too,as I was a full time teacher. Taking our kids to stay and have holidays with you and Dad gave me respite. And they loved Noreen’s porridge and rice custard!

Your life was a busy one, and you gave a lot to the community. Thank you. And before you turned 80, we decided as you always said, it was better to tell people how much they meant to you before you died!

We listened, and your family, including by then, great grandchildren, did so on 6.12.2004.

What joyful photos and memories there are here!

You are missed by many, Mum & Noreen.

 

 

Love is a wonderful and necessary human connection to sustain life, but to love someone is to mourn for them once they are dead. I know that there is a saying along the lines of grieving is the price we pay for loving.

If this post has brought up memories or more grief from your past, there are people who will listen here: at Lifeline 131114.

Grieving is on-going and shows itself in all kinds of ways. It is something we live with. I know my grief today is heightened as it is an anniversary day.

I am going gently and kindly and thinking of my Mum and all she brought to my life…by giving me life.

Vale Noreen Simpson nee Chapple. Mum.

Mum’s Memories. After her cremation, Dad placed some of her ashes in pots, along with her favourite flower. Other family members did similarly.

Thank you for reading. I hope that it has not been too sad.

I am finding the power of writing on my blog a force for good.

Denyse.

 

 

Joining in with Natalie for Weekend Coffee Share today

Thank you Natalie.

https://natalietheexplorer.home.blog/

 

 

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Telling My Story. Chapter Eighteen. 2008-2009. 89/2020.

Telling My Story. 2008-2009. Chapter Eighteen. 89/2020.

About a hundred three years ago ….I thought it was time, seeing I had a blog, to start writing my story. It was on advice from a blogging friend, now published author (her story is here) that I did. Then, for a long time I did not. Because cancer was diagnosed.

Nevertheless, I eventually returned to the story and now I am at…Chapter Eighteen. I admit it is getting harder in some ways to blog about the more recent times. I think it is because without particular markers (i.e. deaths, births, engagements, marriages, break ups…) then it can be hard to recall.

This couple of years actually did cover getting over Mum’s death, the joy of a first child for our son and his fiancee in the year that Mum died…and there would be a marriage planned. More of that in the next chapter!

I know it’s been a while since I last posted. All the posts are here if you would like to check them out.

School and “Work At Home”.

By the time the beginning of the school year of  2008 came around we (my husband and I) had begun to care for the dear little grandson who had been born late in the previous year. When we began his daily care, from around 8 a.m. to around 5 p.m. up to 3 days a week we knew what we were up for…of course we did! But we were older than the last time we had grandchildren in our care AND the Mum in that case worked till around 3-3.30 so we knew that her baby would be going home around then.

My husband was not well enough to do paid work outside the home so he was very good at telling stories, reading books and taking slow walks around the house with a small baby who preferred another’s arms than bed!

I was still working in a school for 2 or 3 days a week, as an English as a Second Language teacher too. So, there were only weekends off for me so to speak. But I loved the “work at home” and I do think I was probably wearying of the role at school. But, “we” needed me to keep working for income so I did.

 

Some of My Memories of 2008.

  • getting areas of the house baby-ready.
  • making the former grandkids’ room (there were already beds for them) into something that could also occupy a baby boy.
  • buying…yes buying a LOT of new toys, books and some items of spare clothing, including bibs, washers and little towels. It had been a long time since the last baby who had been at our house. That baby boy was now 7.
  • enjoying the stroller walks around the neighbourhood so that ‘he’ might get some sleep.
  • loving the daily routine and making up little reports with words for his Mum and Dad to keep.
  • continuous reams of photos being printed at the local photo service centre: I was still using film. Yet to have the iphone.
  • proudly seeing the hard work of this young baby’s parents working for them as it was our son working in retail full time, studying almost full-time while his fiancee managed a physio practice
  • watching for one of the parents’ cars by close to 5 p.m. as we were very tired by then!

No better place than with Papa listening to HUG!

From baby to toddler: 2008-2009

 

The dearest little boy! Now a teen…

 

School.

I was almost 60. I was, I admit, getting over many of the changes that were coming about in education and whilst I saw they may have been necessary, I was beginning to become ‘bored and disinterested.’ I know that I was working for an income, but over the next couple of years, we did hope I could stop work. I did try though to be as positive an influence on other teachers at the school and to mentor those who were interested in promotion and the like. I still have many of those people in my life today.

My Dad.

Dad is a resilient person. He did seek grief counselling after Mum’s death in March 2007 and his self-organised plan of writing Mum letters seemed to help him over the many years he continued this. He even drove to Queensland by himself, stopping over, to have the ‘usual’ holiday he and Mum would have around July each year. He found the journey too much in the end and decided that was the last time. But, never say never and his goal to go and visit a friend on the Gold Coast – for the last time in 2008 –  was to fly up for a few days and he asked me to accompany him. I was OK to do that (pretty sure I would have had the time off school but may be not from grandchild care!)

Dad would still drive over to see us and on a few occasions, especially around Christmas, would stay a couple of nights to catch up with the other members of our family. I admit though, it was a bit of a strain on me having him stay because we clash(ed). Much much less of that these days but back then, it could be tense. Nevertheless he got some fun out of seeing little people and he was always invited to birthdays. He has, now in 2020, lost all interest in anything like that, except with immediate to him close family. At nearly 97 he is just doing what he can to get by!

My Dad with our two grandsons. Some years back now.

2009 Notched Up The Busy Life For Me.

Just as Christmas holidays were over, and the awful fires of Black Saturday burned in Victoria that February, we received news that a new grandchild was on the way. A sibling to the little fellow who was now 1 and very active and interested in the world around him. That was great news. It meant more work for his mum as she struggled (valiantly) with all-day morning sickness and for our son, the dad, as he readied himself for more study towards his future career goals as a mature age student having graduated with his Bachelors Degree.

Such a big and busy time alright and I admit, when my husband turned 60 in the February, retirement of some kind for me was looking good. That was not really possible as we had our mortgage and I was still liking aspects of my part-time teaching role.

Other family members were at High School and Primary School and our daughter was in a relationship and keeping her part-time role in a school happening. The townhouse we had helped her purchase was sold and she and her then partner had plans for building and more. Whilst this did happen down the track, I am not including any more about that time in their lives. It is not my story. At all.

Around 3/4 of the way through 2019, Miss R arrived

She made a dramatic entrance to the world. Her Dad literally caught her! That was amazing. He sure was shocked but perhaps not as much as the midwife when she heard him shout out!! The hospital was a few minutes away and once we knew of his little sister’s arrival, we drove the big brother down to meet her! It was just the best.

And Then I Stopped. I Was 60.

In Term 4 of 2009 I would turn 60. Suddenly, it seemed, I did not want to go to school any more to work. I had felt a real pull to be back at home more and with the prospect of having two grandchildren coming to us in 2010 the time seemed right. The money would be tight, but we would try to make it work.

I had a special birthday celebration. I had a lovely weekend High Tea at a local hotel with female family and friends. It was just lovely. I was spoiled and I have many happy memories. I was also given a lunch by my Dad, husband and my kids and their partners. Miss R above, a breastfed baby was there by necessity.

And I got the retirement farewell I had not had from my time as a principal. My friend, the principal where I was about to stop teaching, organised a morning tea, I got to say a few words, our family came to listen and see, and I was re-presented with the Retirement Medal with the errors on the back. It did not matter. I felt appreciated and cared for and I was ready to be at home. Full-time it seemed!

 

Miss R with one of her cousins.

 

Some 9 years after the ‘first’ retirement, the NSW Dept of Education put on a special morning tea and presented me with the correct medal and the Deputy Secretary made a speech about my career.

What I Cannot Add and Why.

We often see the words “not my story to tell” and I even used them in this post. I could add more but choose not to as some of the times were both sad and based on ill-health issues. What I can say is that I was affected but that is because of the person I was then and that I did find aspects of life in the coming years quite stressful. I know the whys. I am much wiser now some 10 years later but we do have to go through much to learn don’t we?

That has been the case for me. I also know I could add many more photos but I choose not to try to find them…they are in albums and again, they do not necessarily add anything to this public post.

Next time: 2010 – 2012. Not sure how that will be. May be more words than photos. I shall see!

Thank you for being part of the audience who reads Telling My Story.

Denyse.

Linking up with Leanne and friends here on Thursdays.

 

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Women Of Courage Series. #40 Anonymous. 41/2020.

Women of Courage Series.

How did it start? Read here!

Who was the first Woman of Courage to share her story? It was Sam.

Thank you all…today might be an anonymous post, as have several others been, to protect the identities of those whose stories form part of the post.

ONE YEAR ON…here we are…..in May 2020 with the fortieth person to share her story.

2020 Image For the Series.

Here is the introduction to the series.

Courage is strength in the face of pain or grief. It’s doing something that frightens you. We face situations that demand courage every day. These situations provide us with choices, and the way we respond to those choices determines our future. Dayne Shuda.

 

Trigger warning: Family Breakdown, Grief, Terminal Illness.

 

Women Of Courage Series. #40 Anonymous. 41/2020.

“THEY SAY WE WALKED AWAY”

When Denyse asked me to join this incredible group of women in her Women of Courage series I wondered where to focus.

How do I do my spot on your screen justice?

How should I make this worth your while?

 

Today I am going to hold my husband’s hand and tell you about the day we had to find more courage than we ever thought we’d have to find in our lifetime.

Today I’m going to talk about the day we chose to walk away.

 

The Back Story

Once upon a time two people met and fell in love. They got married with his young daughter standing beside them.

His daughter was ingrained in their marriage and became the much-loved big sister to the children born from their union.

Fast forward to when his daughter got married, fell pregnant and moved interstate.

The daughter and her husband needed financial assistance to buy a home which the two people offered as guarantors.

Then the daughter got cancer.

Her husband walked out of the family home leaving her, their child, the cancer and the debt.

The two people don’t know why he did this.

They never asked.

Instead, the two people and the extended village supported the daughter as best they could and fell deeply in love with their grandchild.

Over the next five years the daughter cried often. As she fought the cancer she was also fighting for custody of her child.

She gratefully won the second battle.  She could not beat the first.

 

The cancer was aggressive.  The husband returned.

All money, court cases and his hurtful emails were forgotten as a united front was created for peace in her final year.

The daughter passed away surrounded by love.

 

The two people reached out to the husband offering meals, cleaning, baby sitting and support for the mini-me born from their daughter’s womb.

Then one day the husband declared the two people were no longer grandparent worthy.

Despite their best efforts in trying to understand his aggression, access to their daughter’s mini-me was taken from them via a text message.

Just like her mamma who’d passed away 6 months prior, they would not see their grandchild again.

 

The Pursuit For Peace

The above story is a very quick and overly simplified look at the twenty-five years I personally had the pleasure of being a stepmother and the 6 years I got to be a step-grandmother.

Of course, we didn’t just walk away then and there.

We chose to seek peace.

This was a very weird turn of events given the unity and open-door policy we’d extended.

We waited.

 

Then we gently texted, called and visited the house of the husband awaiting the day it would be business as usual.

We assumed he was going through a phase that required distance and fewer interactions in his life.

Alas, he ignored all contact and rejected all visits.

As a peace-loving family, we’ve never been involved in this sort of animosity.

My husband and I have backgrounds which are in synch.

We don’t do drama.

Our families don’t do war.

As an extended bunch, we choose to accept people for who they are and focus on strengths.

We choose peace and we choose happiness.

We don’t know why he rejected us so firmly and completely.

The people around us suggest it was his own guilt driving the decisions rather than anything we had personally done.

Counsellors advised likewise.

 

My husband – father and maternal grandfather – he knew.

He knew the day his daughter passed away it was only a matter of time he’d lose his granddaughter.

He knew the husband well enough to predict the future. He was just waiting for whatever excuse the husband would use to “justify” it.

 

When it became clear the husband was serious about taking our grandchild away, we sought the advice of lawyers and organized mediation.

 

We sat and listened to all the things he hated about us.  I personally spent the entire session in tears. I so badly wanted to explode. I so badly wanted to speak my truth.  I so badly just wanted to remind him of his cowardly departure from our daughter five years prior. His cowardly departure from her cancer and the $500,000 mortgage he left us with in a town where industry has disappeared, and houses have halved in value.

 

Do you know how hard it was to welcome someone into our home after wiping away our daughter’s chemo tainted tears caused by her husband’s emails, texts and profanities from the other end of a phone? Words I can’t utter because they are too disgusting to repeat.

 

Do you know how hard it was to watch him spend his newly found wealth gained from her death?

But my husband and I didn’t shout.  We didn’t say the things we wanted to say.  Why? Because we choose peace.

That afternoon the husband told us if ever our granddaughter asked to see us, he would consider it.

Then he said, “but quite frankly, she’s never mentioned your names”.

Then he walked out the door.

 

When you love someone, truly love someone, all you want for them is peace.

So, for the sake of our daughter’s memory and the sake of our granddaughter, we made the ultimate decision when he left that mediation session.

As I pressed my face into my husband’s tear soaked suit, we both agreed to walk away in the belief that when she’s old enough and no longer under the influence of her father, our granddaughter will come looking for her Mamma’s other family.

 

Is there something you learned from this that you could recommend helping others who need courage?

In all honesty, I would never wish this heartbreak on anyone.

The feeling is so overwhelming it’s unfathomable.

Since that day in the mediator’s office we’ve had to dig deep just to go about our daily activities.

But there is always a lesson worth sharing:

 

  1. When you love something, set it free: The greatest courage comes from being selfless. To continue fighting may have put our granddaughter under stress.  While our hearts will be broken forever, her heart will mend.
  2. Nobody can take away our true selves, unless we let them: I am still a stepmother. I am still a grandmother.  I can’t see either of our girls anymore, but they are still in my heart, in my head and in my soul.  They remain ingrained in who I am as a person, who we are as a couple and who we are as a family.  I continue to talk to our daughter every day, and I write letters to our granddaughter which I keep in a box for the day she comes back to us.  Plus, I have her mother’s voice recordings to give her when she’s of age and a book her mamma half wrote for her in her final days.  I will finish that book and put it in her box of “we love you”.  Nobody can take away the person I became when I married into that father/daughter dynamic.
  3. Behind every challenge is an opportunity: Walking away that day with our hearts heavy and our souls severely damaged, gave us the opportunity to reinvent ourselves and try new things. I had given myself to be available as a caregiver for several years.  I was offered long-term contracts but never took them so I could be available for our daughter and then our granddaughter.  Finding myself in a new career has been an amazing up-side. And yes, there is an upside. Nothing will replace what we had, but without it we can still thrive.  Lie in a heap in a corner or get up and bloody well get on with life.  That’s the decision we must make in these situations.

 

Do you think you are able to be more courageous now if the life situation calls for it? Why is that?

Absolutely. In this uncertain world filled with bushfires, hailstorms, floods and pandemics, my resilience is high.

My courage is at an all time high.

We have gone through stuff and experienced such loss and not only survived it but walked away from it hand in hand.

The most courageous thing we ever had to do was turn and walk away.  Everything else is a piece of cake to be honest.

 

Is there any message you would give to others facing a situation where courage could be needed?

Believe.

  • Believe in your ability to get through the challenges
  • Believe that while ever you are being the best version of yourself, your courage will far outshine the rubbish that surrounds you.
  • Believe in the fact this too shall pass.
  • Believe that with each new situation you are faced you will come out wiser, stronger, braver and more resilient.
  • Believe in who you are and the value you add to this world.

 

Was it hard to tell this story?

Yes, it’s hard.  It’s hard because by putting it out there I am opening the wounds.  I am also potentially opening a door for more explosive behaviour from the husband and his extended village.  But you know what? This series is about courage.  For years I tip toed around being the diplomatic corps for the sake of my stepdaughter.  Always the insurer of peace in the blended family dynamic.  My post today … these words you are reading … are coming from a place of courage.

 

Any final words?

If anybody reads my story and feels lost in a similar situation, please do reach out to Denyse.  I am a strong believer that the power within us, extends beyond us.  I am lucky that I have a hand to hold.  Not everybody has that.  I can be that hand for you if you need it.

A powerful story and one of which some has been shared with me personally. I thank this person for her literal courage to share.

While the author of this post would like to reveal herself, for the sake of her daughter’s memory and her grandchild’s privacy she has chosen to remain anonymous. 

There will be no replies from this poster.

She will, however, be reading and I will be responding to readers’ comments.

Thank you for your understanding.

Denyse.

 

The following information may be helpful to you or another. These are Australian-based.

  • Your Family G.P. can be a helpful person to listen and make referrals.
  • Lifeline on 13 11 14
  • Beyond Blue on 1300 22 4636
  • Phone 13 HEALTH (13 43 25 84) for 24 hour assessment, referral, advice, and hospital and community health centre contact details
  • Qualified Psychologists can be found by visiting https://www.psychology.org.au/FindaPsychologist/
  • Australian Counselling Association is on 1300 784 333 to find a counsellor

Joining each Wednesday with Sue and Leanne here for Mid Life Share the Love Linky.

On Thursdays I link here for Lovin Life with Leanne and friends.

Copyright © 2020 denysewhelan.com.au – All rights reserved.

 

 

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