Sunday 22nd May 2022

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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Women Of Courage Series.#56 Cate Froggatt. 65/2021

Women Of Courage Series. #56 Cate Froggatt. 65/2021.

Two years ago….around this time of year, I tentatively courageously launched Women of Courage series on my blog and here was what I said then:

I got this idea from attending the Newcastle Writers Festival in April 2019 and hearing the wonderful Jane Caro speak about her book Accidental Feminists. IF you ever get a chance to listen to or read Jane’s works they are very good.

What I considered after that day and in the days to come is how we women have a tendency to underplay our achievements and whatever else we are doing in our lives. I know this is changing.

This third series of blog posts on Denyse Whelan Blogs to be found here will continue to be published each Thursday.

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

There are people who come into our lives for a reason, as the saying goes. This woman of courage came into MY life because of my head and neck cancer diagnosis! She is Cate Froggatt, aged 52, Clinical Nurse Consultant for Prof. J Clark AM who is my Head and Neck Cancer Surgeon.

This woman and I have clicked…as they say…over chats, shared experiences as parents and with hugs and smiles at my regular visits to have cancer checks. However she is much more than that for me. Cate tells me I met her at or after my first surgery in July 2017 but like all things where an anaesthetic is involved, a verrrryy long one, I can’t recall.

She has, along with my Professor, her boss and friend, has been inside my mouth on a few occasions. When I go for a check at Chris O’Brien Lifehouse (last one was in September 2020) I know (pre Covid anyway) I can get a hug and we share smiles and laughs too.

But she also is one of the people who knows a great deal about the surgeries I have had because she is part of the team that does many. A couple of memories of Cate from me. One is her blowing me a kiss after seeing me in the anaesthetic bay and wishing me well “see you sweetcheeks”…very comforting and another is the kind voice at the end of the phone when I was (very) concerned about the skin graft weeping after surgery #4…She said, I will show Jonathan the photos and get back to you. Within minutes, reassurance, get into the bath, take off the dressing and Bernard will have something there I am pretty sure, to cover it for you. He did. I was better after that.

And in receiving Cate’s story, she said “use any photo because I know you have plenty”. She is right. Here’s Cate’s story.

In Sept. 2020. “See you in a year”

Hug with Cate: early 2020

 

 What have you faced in your life where you have had to be courageous?

In a way I feel as if I have had to be courageous for most of my life.

Not in a ‘life and death’ kind of way, more like an ‘out of my comfort zone’ kind of a way.

It’s not the exciting kind of courage that gets written about in novels but rather the courage required by those who are innately shy and filled with anxiety about the possible disasters awaiting in the unknown and the unfamiliar.

I had to leave home when I was 12 to go to boarding school.

This was a situation which certainly required me to muster up some courage. Leaving the safety and security of parents and home was quite hard initially.

Following school I moved to Sydney to an apartment with two friends.

The sheer size of the city and the hustle and bustle was so far removed from all that was previously familiar to the three of us.

Just to go to the shops for groceries was an undertaking that required courage.

Let alone navigating public transport, working for the first time, attending university and meeting grown up responsibilities like rent and bills – all without Mum and Dad being close enough to call upon for help.

Being a parent requires courage although I think naivety saves the majority of us there – we have no clue what we are in for as we gaze lovingly down at our firstborns!

More recently my career has demanded significant courage.

Every day I feel like an imposter in a world where I am surrounded by the most amazing minds.

I stand beside my boss in awe of his intellect, his organisational skills and his ability to literally change the world.

The incredible opportunity I have been afforded by him to be able to contribute in a small way to the great things that are being achieved calls upon courage each day.

Finally as healthcare professionals we have all recently had to gather all our courage together in a rapidly changing world where each day of early 2020 brought with it new fears, new parameters and new demands on physically and emotionally exhausted bodies and minds.

 

How did this change you in any way? Please outline further if this has been the case.

All of these things have not so much changed me but shaped me into the person I am.

 

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

I have learned to ‘just do it’.

If you think you can, you probably can.

Have faith in those who have faith in you and never, ever underestimate the power of commitment and dedication.

Finally, if you can’t beat fear, do it scared!

 

 

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

Certainly. It becomes inherent.

 

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

 

Believe in yourself. As C.S. Lewis famously said ‘We are what we believe we are.’

The quickest way to acquire self-confidence is to do exactly what you are afraid of.

 

Ah Cate, those words about doing it scared. I know that too.

What a great way to own your courage and the examples just tell me and readers too, that courage IS a muscle we can work. Love your work…and you …I have been very fortunate to have been your patient as part of my head and neck cancer surgeries and recoveries.

I also thank you too for sharing my blog more widely with your colleagues and how this helped me become offered a role as an Ambassador for (then Beyond Five) which is now Head and Neck Cancer Australia!

Thank you Cate!

Do you have special health professional who has cared for you?

Share in the comments.

Thank you

Denyse.

 

This series continues over the next months.

If you have  story to share, please leave me a message in the comments.

Joining with Natalie here for Weekend Coffee Share.

 

Copyright © 2021 denysewhelan.com.au – All rights reserved.

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Women Of Courage Series. #55 Tanya Selak. 62/2021.

Women Of Courage Series. #55 Tanya Selak. 62/2021.

Two years ago….around this time of year, I tentatively courageously launched Women of Courage series on my blog and here was what I said then:

I got this idea from attending the Newcastle Writers Festival in April 2019 and hearing the wonderful Jane Caro speak about her book Accidental Feminists. IF you ever get a chance to listen to or read Jane’s works they are very good.

What I considered after that day and in the days to come is how we women have a tendency to underplay our achievements and whatever else we are doing in our lives. I know this is changing.

This third series of blog posts on Denyse Whelan Blogs to be found here will continue to be published each Thursday.

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

Welcoming Woman of Courage #54 Tanya Selak today, as she helps this series begin. I love the world of social media, particularly twitter, where I get to ‘meet’ the most interesting and engaging humans. One of these is Dr Tanya Selak who is in her 40s.

I admit I am a bit of a groupie of hers and yet we have not met. I follow medical and surgical people – having a head and neck cancer diagnosis will do that to a person like me – and when I saw @GongGasGirl tweet photos from Wollongong…I was very interested. Even more, that some were coming from Wollongong Hospital where I was born over 71 years ago. We have engaged on numerous occasions since and I thank her wholeheartedly for not only her on-line connections, and her wonderful smile but the fact she returned this story within a day of being asked!

Her words gave me more than a sense of what it is to not only be courageous but continuing taking these riskier steps. Tough times we do not always associate with people in her field. I leave her now to share her words from the questions asked.   Thank you Tanya.

What have you faced in your life where you have had to be courageous?

When I was an anaesthetic trainee in Auckland in my 20’s, my husband needed to travel to London for additional surgical training (he’s a colorectal surgeon).

For me, it meant leaving the training program in Auckland, which was very difficult to get into, and would interrupt my career progression, with no guarantee of continued training in London.

The risk was that I could become yet another trailing spouse, who never completes specialty training. I had no contacts in London, and had no job lined up.

At the time, I was nearing the end of the one year of study required to sit the first anaesthetic speciality exam. It is very difficult and has a low pass rate. I was so focused on study, that I had not arranged a job, but had an interview at a hospital the day after my flight landed.

Back then, social media didn’t exist and it was difficult to get helpful accurate information to set up life in London. I didn’t even know the basics like names of any hospitals or where it would be good to live.

My husband left for London to start work (while living on his cousin’s couch), I stayed and sat my exam in Melbourne (thankfully passed), flew back to Auckland and left my family and friends for London 2 days later.

Leaving a training program, your life and heading overseas with no job and no flat and no plan was considered to be quite courageous or reckless depending on your point of view!

 

How did this change you in any way? Please outline further if this has been the case.

We arrived in London very naïve and green and poor.

We used all of our savings to secure a flat (at the time the exchange rate from $NZ to GBP was 4:1) and it took a while to sort out the paperwork at both of our hospitals to be paid.

Even though the language was the same, culturally and professionally everything was different and difficult – even just getting a bank account was a struggle.

A few months in I remember looking at the McDonalds in freezing cold Waterloo Station wondering if we could afford to eat there.

I was appointed to a great anaesthetic job the week after arrival.

However, the work was very different and my colleagues and the patients couldn’t understand my thick kiwi accent – I had to learn to slow down!

We found our feet in a few months, lovely new friends helped us settle in, and we started to enjoy living in London, with all it has to offer.

I went on to work at incredible hospitals and was able to continue my training remotely.

It gave me the confidence that I had the resilience to thrive and push through uncertainty.

It showed me that good things can happen outside your comfort zone.

 

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

Despite no planning and many unknowns, sometimes things can just work out.

I see many people with ‘analysis paralysis’ professionally and personally.

Sometimes it’s OK to just leap in.

While we dither, time marches on.

What’s the worst that can happen?

 

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

Interesting question. I am probably more and less able to be courageous now than I was in my 20’s depending on the issue.

We now have three children to raise, a mortgage, consultant positions.

A radical life move like this would be very difficult now.

I am however more courageous in standing up for what’s right.

In the past, I have been deferential to authority figures even when they have not deserved it.

I’m in a position now where few things or people scare me, I feel safe to challenge those with power.

 

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

My dear friend recently sent me this from Ralph Waldo Emerson.

It’s a nice reminder to give up on perfectionism, do the best that you can, and then move on.

Don’t forget to gather and cherish your trusted support crew, hold on to them tightly especially when you need to be courageous.

 

“Write it on your heart
that every day is the best day in the year.
He is rich who owns the day, and no one owns the day
who allows it to be invaded with fret and anxiety.

Finish every day and be done with it.
You have done what you could.
Some blunders and absurdities, no doubt crept in.
Forget them as soon as you can, tomorrow is a new day;
begin it well and serenely, with too high a spirit
to be cumbered with your old nonsense.

This new day is too dear,
with its hopes and invitations,
to waste a moment on the yesterdays.”

Many thanks for your story Tanya, which tells of  considerable examples of courage…as you must face each day in your role as an Anaesthetist. I know that you are a teacher of others too and am not at all surprised to see that you do so well there too. Your support for me has always been appreciated. And yours is a face I would love to see in my anaesthetic bay! Take care, and keep tweeting.

Denyse.

This series continues over the next months.

If you have  story to share, please leave me a message in the comments.

Joining with Natalie here for Weekend Coffee Share.

 

 

Copyright © 2021 denysewhelan.com.au – All rights reserved.

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