Tuesday 24th November 2020

Telling My Story. 2007. Part Two. Chapter Seventeen. 81/2020.

Telling My Story. 2007. Part Two. Chapter Seventeen. 81/2020.

2007 was a very full year of significant events which is why I have made it a two-parter! 

So, 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…drum roll… Chapter Seventeen. Part One from last week is here.

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

My Mum Has Died. 

Whilst her life in the last 2 or so years were not great, Mum did have a story to tell which I, along with my father and brother were happy to write as part of her soon-to-happen funeral.I admit, some of the days prior were a bit tense but when a family comes together and they wish to do what the remaining partner (Dad) wishes, then so be it. With help and support from extended family, a private funeral service and a wake back at (Mum) and Dad’s house family set about getting organised. Mum and Dad’s early years together are part of this Telling My Story Chapter here:

My daughter – Mum’s first grandchild – and I put together the small orders of service and we reminisced about a lot. My brother and his wife were helping Dad – they lived a lot closer and things like Mum’s clothes and the food and drink back at the wake were organised. Our contingent, travelled in a couple of cars from our area of Sydney and we met at the family home. I had an idea that if each of the women and girls wanted to wear something of Mum’s jewellery to her service, that would be nice. Everyone did and kept that.

I know my reaction to the event was both sad and also of relief. I actually wanted to give the eulogy but Dad refused. He gave that job to the minister who had never met Mum and only knew Dad from arranging the service at a church that he felt Mum would have wanted. Nevertheless he did a reasonable job and there were smiles and tears at the words. Dad, again, his idea, decided that no-one would accompany Mum’s body to the crematorium. Sadly she left alone. Our son, called out to her in farewell as her casket was taken.

Back to Dad’s house – not Mum’s anymore and we all mingled, with some of the close  friends Dad invited and gave her a farewell with champers and food. Sigh. Dad collected Mum’s ashes some weeks later, offered some to his family, and we said “no, thanks, keep Mum together!”. Dad planted 3 new favourite plants of hers (pretty sure, they are in this background) and added her ashes. When he sold the house and went to the independent living unit, he took one remaining pot with him.

Dad, Me & His (then) 3 Great Grandkids: front garden.

How Did I Manage?

Given that I had to start at a new school and a new job at a college just as we received the news that Mum had brain tumours, my mind was in overdrive. However, the income was needed but over the 2 weeks or so as she was hospitalised in palliative care, my wise GP told me I was far better acknowledging the grief and distraction and to take time off now and into the time following Mum’s death. I agreed and it helped greatly to know that I could get over to see her and help Dad as needed.

Never think a job is more important than these very significant times in family life.

There Will Be A New Grandchild In Our Lives in 2007.

This news was unexpected, welcomed and a big surprise. The mother-to-be and her partner, our son, were expecting. This gave me a very different and welcomed focus. I sure love being Grandma…and had 3 gorgeous grandkids already, but it had been 6 years since any were babies. I admit I went into Grandma-Must-Get “this for them and this for our house” and more….because having passed the grandbaby part of our lives, I had given quite a bit away. I was told that I needed to pull back a bit from this and I admit I needed this big time…looking at it now, I did, ahem over do it and yes, it was probably a great way to overcome the sadness of Mum’s death.

School. Work. Back To It. Grief.

It’s always hard to return to a job after a significant event like this one, my mother’s grave illness then death, but routine and work can help. I admit to some overwhelm and sadness and I think this was more about me trying to keep it all together. I have mentioned before that Mum and I were never that close yet it did surprise me that I felt the  tears prick at times, and as Mother’s Day 2007 beckoned, I recall thinking “no need for a card any more” and that sure did cement the finality. As the years have gone on, I have had some regrets about my relationship with Mum and have, in some ways, made some peace with her in the ways in which I bring up her name in family conversations and talk to Dad about her. He saw a grief counsellor after Mum died and the idea put to him that he write letters to Mum gelled. He filled folders and folders of these, only finishing a few years back. Every family event, anything of significance, Dad wrote to Mum about it. He would say it was very helpful.

Yes, back to work. I maintained the face of not minding where I was teaching but when an offer came that I could return to my former and preferred school I jumped at it. Sure it wasn’t as it used to be there as a new teacher had been appointed but I knew the school, the kids and the staff…and was 10 minutes from home. 3 days a week. Done. Did not go back to the College once the first term was over. Yay.

Moments, Days And Times To Enjoy.

Dad is a very practical person and he had run the house he and Mum lived in for at least 2 years before she died. Mum, who was incredibly energetic and liked to socialise had changed greatly over the years and this had taken a toll on Dad but he also needed to get stuff done. He stayed in their large family home for the next few years. More on that in chapters to come. He was the one who, on Mum’s death, disposed of her clothing and more once any of of us had a chance to speak up for what we might like. I took some scarves (never was my Mum’s small size anyway) and I was given all of her jewellery after others had a chance to select something for themselves. I have these in safe keeping now. Dad had a good set of friends and one part of his  family were not too far away. He got on with some days well, and at other times he craved company and went next door or to his local club to catch up.

I was busy back at the school I loved, and wrote the school’s English as a Second Language policy. The person who replaced me (ha!) got the job based on seniority on a waiting list. Her skills in administration were not, ahem, those of a former school principal. Fortunately for me, I was able to choose my work path and we only needed to connect from time to time. I was also getting closer to becoming Grandma to a little one again. Joyous times awaited.

HE is here.

The first son (and child for his parents) arrived…not as his mother had hoped…on a different day to her birthday but, yes, ON her birthday. Ah well, they will never forget each other’s birthdays! This young baby boy was a bit big. OK. A lot big..in the head. We do have big heads in our family. And, whilst his birth was a trauma for him, as he had to be delivered by forceps, his Mum and his Dad – along with their Obstetrician were champions. We got to meet this second grandson for us a little while after his arrival. Because of his rocky entry to the world, he could not be held by anyone other than his Mum (and Dad, I think) whilst in hospital.

My tradition has been to secure some tiny wee cloth/soft toy for the baby and I managed to get him a little bear for inside his hospital bed. His parents had a double bed in the room, and our son stayed too, in between I think Uni and work. I do know that I kept up snack and drinks supplies to the new parents.

And then they came home. I was invited to take photos of their arrival home. Luckily it was school holidays but knowing me, I would have taken the day off.

Firsts.

In 2007 we remembered these firsts:

  • first Mother’s Day without Mum
  • first time I worked in an adult English as a Second Language setting
  • first time I learned our son and his then partner were having a child
  • first time Dad spent Christmas with us, and without Mum
  • first car I owned which would be the one I helped with being a regular carer of  grandchildren because: 7 seater. Lots of room for carseats to fit “all” sizes.
  • first time our family spent time together at my parents’ house but without Mum’s presence
  • first time I held a baby boy who is the son of my son
  • first time I knew that I wanted to have time to teach for only 2-3 days a week…because:
  • in 2008 I would, for the first time, be caring for a young grandson when his Mum went back to work, and Dad too, along with Uni for up to 3 days a week.

That’s a wrap for a big year. So big it was written in two parts.

Thank you for reading…and commenting too.

Denyse.

Linking up here with Leanne and friends on Thursdays.

 

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Telling My Story. 2007. Part One. Chapter Seventeen. 79/2020.

Telling My Story. 2007. Part One. Chapter Seventeen. 79/2020.

2007 was a very full year of significant events which is why I have made it a two-parter! 

So, 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…drum roll… Chapter Seventeen. I know it’s been a while since I last posted. All the posts are here if you would like to check them out.

 

We Did Not Know What 2007 Would Bring.

Of course no-one can predict a year and what it might hold….case in point 2020…but this one sure did challenge me and those I love. Where to start? I guess, of course right at the beginning of 2007. And as I began to write, I realised I would need to make this a Part One and a Part Two year. Next week, I will conclude Telling My Story 2007.

My teaching role: changes. Not happy, but at least I have some paid work.

I am a practical and resourceful person who love(s/d) her teaching role. After gaining my Post-Graduate Certificate in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) in 2006 I heard the disappointing  news that I could not stay at the school where I had started (again) in 2004. There was now a permanent person appointed. What to do? I sent emails to a few former principal colleagues  about my availability as an E.S.L. teacher 3 days a week and within a few days, was able to say “YES thank you” to Sue at H.P.S. I would add to the staff she said, not only my E.S.L. expertise but my leadership skills. OK. Flattered of course. I readied to leave the school I loved and my dear husband was my courier of all things teaching to the new school to a very old half a portable building in the back of the school grounds. But wait, there is more before I even start at school.

Mum becomes much more seriously ill. 

At the end of Chapter Sixteen I wrote that Mum and Dad celebrated their 60th (Diamond) Wedding Anniversary with the family and a few friends but Mum’s health had been declining for more than a year. Dad says over 2 years. He of course, noticed far more than we did. Mum made it, with Dad’s help to celebrate Christmas 2006 at my brother’s and we all joined them. That was probably the last time we did have Mum with us all. Early January 2007 after an incident where Mum had a ‘bump’ into a door and hurt her head, Dad was reluctant to let us know as we had taken a few days to have a break on the south coast. His birthday was celebrated very simply with my daughter, some of her kids and my niece, joining my parents for a simple morning tea. The last photo of Mum is at that small event. It would have been important for Mum to have a cake for him. She did not make this cake though as had been her tradition.

We returned from our holiday and I was surprised to be asked to help Dad out, because they lived an hour from us and I wondered why. I guess, he had downplayed Mum’s condition for “protective measures” and also because Mum was exceedingly private about anything medical. Oh, and worrier to the nth degree. I drove to their place, as requested, on a very warm mid -January afternoon to be the chauffeur to take Dad and Mum to a much needed catch up appointment with her specialist Neurologist. Back story: Mum had, for some time, exhibited symptoms which could have been Parkinson-based or maybe not. This man was a kindly person and whilst Mum found it hard to hear (deaf most of her adult life) he tried to ease her anguish. I did not go into this appointment with them but when Mum came out, I assisted her to the ladies and for the first time, saw her need to guided help as she walked. A wake-up call for me.

I drove Mum and Dad home. The specialist was going to organise for Mum to have an MRI (I think) within the next weeks. Time did not allow for that to occur on his watch, as that weekend, Mum became confused somewhat by pain and Dad made the call to take her to the ED at the local hospital. She was seen by a couple of people that Sunday and Dad tried to let them know what the history was, but with a couple of tests and a CT (I think) they said “take her home.”

Dad was appalled but did as they said. The next day, Monday, he was onto the specialist Neurologist immediately who was sorry he had not given Dad his mobile number but said, I will arrange for her to be admitted to the private hospital now. But then, Dad took another call, from the local public hospital. “Oh, could you bring your wife in please, we have seen tumours in her brain”. Umm. No thank you.

Meanwhile, I started a new adult teaching role.

Gosh, way to add complications to my life. However, I needed an income and found work on a day when I was not going to be in a school, at Chatswood helping older people learn English to function. I admit, it did last for only 10 weeks but it was not a role I loved. More later. The one thing that was a bit convenient on one of the days, was that after teaching, I was close to the hospital where Mum was.

Term One. School, Adult Education and a New Vehicle.

Before returning to teaching at the end of January 2007, I sold my sedan and became the proud owner of a Grandma-suitable vehicle called an Avensis. It could seat seven and even though we had only 3 grandchildren then, I felt this vehicle was more appropriate for my travels to school as well as across Sydney. I did not, dear reader, anticipate the number of grandchildren would change. This news…later.

I kind of settled into the new (to me) primary school where I was a part-time E.S.L. teacher for 3 days a week. I found it a hard role in some ways as at my previous school I was able to make it my own but, ever resourceful, I was able to find I could contribute to this school’s teaching and made some kind friends. It was though, at the back of my mind all through February that Mum was seriously ill. Not quite fully cognisant of what would lie ahead, I did make meals for Dad and did what I could on my days off to help. The role at the adult education college was not my ‘cup of tea’ because of the lack of relationship I was able to foster with the ‘students’. They all turned up with electronic dictionaries and really paid no heed to my teaching much at all. I will admit I sighed with relief when I said I was not able to return. Schools (and Uni teaching) were much more my style.

Knowing Mum Was Going To Die Soon.

By late January 2007, the decision NOT to operate on Mum’s secondary brain tumours (primary cancer never determined) was made by Mum. After the diagnostic MRI showed the reasons for her loss of sight and more, it was Mum who said “no more”. Dad asked us kids (my brother and me) and of course we agreed. So did her then team. What next? It was a confusing and not great time for us, mostly Mum.

  • She was allowed home with no support added at this stage, just Dad. My sister-in-law got in touch with some home care people and that was arranged for the next week
  • Mum became almost mute. We will never know how much she understood about her condition. Dad has told me since that “she was just not the woman I knew for the 2 years before this”. Of course, we have talked a lot about this and reckon it was a lot to do with Mum’s reticence along with her distaste of anything to do with hospitals.
  • Dad managed by himself initially and with a couple of aides who came to help Mum shower…and who Mum said ‘I don’t like this’ So that stopped.
  • I recall my s-i-l and I trying to wash Mum’s hair and dry it. Mum was soooo particular about her hair and in the previous months had no salon visits and would not allow her hairdresser to call in to help. We did not do a great job.
  • Mum needed attention through the night and Dad would help her to the toilet etc. This became very hard.
  • Dad had to really consider his own physical health and with some discussion with us (even though his mind was made up) and in consultation with Mum and Dad’s GP, it was time for Mum to go into a local private hospital for so-called palliative care.

It Seemed Very Sudden But It Seemed To Take Forever. 

Mum actually brought up the fact that Dad’s full-time care of her was very hard on him. I like that she was compassionate enough to see that. However, the next stage was very challenging. For them both. Even hearing about how it transpired still makes me both sad and a little mad. Dad too, as I now know.

The Regrets.

  • Dad and Mum’s GP was able to get Mum a bed at the local private hospital. Dad was reassured by that.
  • He sat with Mum on the lounge to explain what was going to happen on that same day. A Friday.
  • I am not sure who else was there. I know I heard about it after it happened.
  • An ambulance arrived for Mum’s transfer and that, my dear readers, was the last time she saw her home of 49 years. 1959-2007.
  • Dad had not realised, of course, that putting Mum in hospital prior to a weekend would mean no particular treatment or care would start till the Monday.
  • Mum was placed in a shared room. Her loss of hearing made that a huge challenge, along with her somewhat confused mind about “where and why”.

The Reality.

  • Dad did need this respite from care 24/7. There was no other option. Having said that, we have talked about it a lot. He would have waited till the Monday in hindsight.
  • We visited Mum around lunchtime Saturday and it was HOT. Her room, with a view of the harbour (at Manly) was nice but it was overpoweringly warm too. We lived an hour away. Dad lived within 15 minutes drive and my brother and family about 20 minutes away.
  • My husband offered to help Mum with the food that had been left for her. As he fed her, she said, heartbreakingly, “If I eat this, I will be allowed to go home.” Neither of us will forget that.
  • Mum who was a very private person found it awful to be sharing a room and I am pretty sure, told anyone in the family who visited.
  • We did try to organise visits to Mum was not burdened by too many even though she communicated very little.

Moved To a Better Room And Palliative Care Finally Happened.

  • Close to 3 weeks after Mum was admitted to this multi-purpose private hospital, Mum died peacefully late on a Monday night just before midnight. Dad was at home, and when he knew, he rang each of his kids.
  • But in the weeks in between Mum struggled. She spoke little. We knew she was in pain but it was unclear what would actually happen to help.
  • We know, some 13 years later, that advanced care plans are enacted and with the right medical people on side, comfort levels can be achieved.
  • It was only with some words from my sister-in-law, to those who were in charge, that she was given the amount of medication which should have happened much earlier. 
  • She was no longer on any kind of hydration nor offered nourishment.
  • However, hindsight is a thing. None of us wanted Mum to suffer needlessly.
  • Dad was with her every single day for part of the day. She was given care. Family visited on a planned basis.
  • I admit it became really, really hard to wait for the inevitable news, and with my husband present we sat beside Mum, talking softly and saying farewells along with handholding, and my husband saying the Lord’s Prayer….this was something my Dad asked him to do.
  • We did not return after that Friday visit.  I was very sad leaving her for the last time.
  • We waited at home and I began the inevitable task (lovingly sought) of writing up some words about her and making an order of service.

Life Goes On. In a Most Interesting and Unexpected Way. 

  • On the weekend before Mum died, our son and his partner told my father they were expecting a child. This was something completely unexpected by them as well as us.
  • We had been told too.
  • My son, particularly close to his grandmother, wanted to share the news with her. His grandfather, my dad, decided that it might be best left to him. Unsure why…but that IS my Dad.
  • Our son and his partner visited Mum too on that last  weekend of her life.
  • On hearing the news, my traditional mother reacted in a sweet and typically conservative way, asking if a wedding would also happen. Made me smile that did, that she could rally in that way!!

Gratitude for My Mum.

Whilst I would admit we were not close, as the years go by and I am ageing, I also find I am more like her than I realise.

Thank you Mum….

Love, Denyse.

 

Part Two: Next Wednesday. 

Joining Leanne and friends here on Thursdays for Lovin’ Life Linky.

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Life Stories #2. On Being a Grandmother Pt. 2. 23/51. #LifeThisWeek. 46/2020.

Life Stories #2. On Being a Grandmother Pt. 2. 23/51. #LifeThisWeek. 46/2020.

On Being a Grandmother. Part Two.

Recently in Australia, a book was published and both Debbie Harris from here and I were taken by its contents and messages about “being a grandmother”.

Debbie’s post is found here. 

Grandmothers: Essays by 21st-Century Grandmothers.

Helen Elliott

Debbie and I wrote posts on the topic of becoming a grandmother. The links are above. As readers “may” have guessed we do enjoy our roles and we knew we would want to add more to our stories.

Mine is a bit lot longer than hers (not a competition!) because I started at age 47 and celebrated our last granddaughter’s arrival when I was 65. Here I am cuddling Miss back then in 2015. She is our youngest grandchild and granddaughter. Miss M has had ‘less contact’ with me as we had already moved to the Central Coast at the time of her impending arrival, but of course, she is no less loved nor cared about! Her siblings (3) and her cousins (4)  just happened to get a lot more “Grandma and Papa” time whilst we lived close by…from 1996 to 2014.

 

More About Grandmothering.

As Life Moves on In Families. 

Tell the story of how your name was chosen, by whom, and has that ‘stuck?’

I wanted a traditional grandmother’s name and I chose Grandma. When we knew grandchild #1 was coming, in 1996, I spoke to my son-in-law’s Mum and she was happy to be Granny. Sorted! My name did change a bit over the years as the first G.D. started to speak. I have been known as: “Gummy” “Brandma” “Grandma” and “G-Ma”. All fine!

How many grandchildren do you have? 

We are very fortunate to have eight grandchildren. There are six girls and two boys. No idea how that kind of mix works out but in our daughter’s family she has 3 daughters and a son, and that is the same for our son.

Here they are:

our daughter’s family: 1 girl, J, 1996, 1 girl, S, 1999, 1 boy, B, 2001 and 1 girl, E, 2012.

our son’s family: 1 boy, H, 2007, 1 girl, R, 2009, 1 girl, E, 2013, 1 girl, M, 2015.

The Fam! All together. Back: S, J, B. Son & Daughter. Front: E, R, E, M & H with Grandma and Papa!

Did you share in any of the pre-birth care of siblings or afterwards to help the family. How did this occur?

Yes and there is much more to write!

The first 3 grandchildren. 1996-2007.

1996 our first grandchild, J, was born and we (I) cared for her at our house 3 days a week for her first 6 months and then she went to a wonderful family day care. We did mind her on some weekends and when her sibling, S, was coming even more. I went to her parents’ house as they left for the hospital in the middle of the night. Then in 1999 into 2001 when B came along, even though I was working full-time as a school principal, being Grandma was also very important and we had beds, cots, toys, blankies and much more at our house so the three grandchildren could have sleep-overs, a play afternoon and spend time with us in school holidays. We had one bedroom that was ‘theirs’ with double bunk, their own bedding and a cot. In fact, we took the grandchildren on holidays with us too from time to time. This was to help out their parents but we also enjoyed it….and we were much younger than we are now!!

Then there were more! 2007-2014.

In 2007 our son’s first was born. With a pretty big gap between our kids there was a similar gap between grandchildren. However, it all came back to me…the baby parts I mean. There was talk of caring for the baby once he (H) arrived, and by early 2008 we were doing that a few days each week. I was no longer working full-time and was a part-time teacher. However, the 3 days of care were very full-on because he was not with us in ‘school hours’ as our daughter’s children were but around 8-5pm. We adapted to him giving him a bath some nights and dressing him for bed so when he was picked up, all he needed was dinner, cuddles, stories and bed. We did, ahem, re-fit the house with MORE play and baby paraphanalia including car seats. Yes, we bought many car seats and boosters over the years. In fact, my car back then could, in theory, take most of the grandkids. I had strollers too. We often walked around the block each day…sleep, child, sleep!

From 2009 when R was born we then were able to help her parents out the next year and what fun we had for a few days each week with both. Beds and cots were ready and they too had the quilts, blankies, pillows and toys. In 2012, their cousin E, joined us for a day or so a week as her Mum had to return to teaching. She was not a happy child to leave her Mum and we did all we could to distract her to have her see the fun the others were having. She later went to a family day care that her Mum found the best for her. The other two (H &R) also attended some other care during those years.

And in 2013, E, joined H & R in her family and she came to us the next year up to 3 days a week. She was such a different child. She observed everything but resisted any of my offered bottles…even if they were Mummy’s milk. I admit I did buy a ‘play centre’ to put her in as I was caring for her alone once she was on the move. She started exploring eating and drinking from a cup and talked a lot once she could. She and I would go out for a drive and enjoy morning tea out some days.

I admit now, that I grew physically weary and was already a bit sad about how my work life in education needed to end and that, to make our lives work better for us in the future, we would need to sell the house..and say goodbye to these 7 grandchildren. As the ink dried on the contract to sell, we were told grandchild #8 was coming but that the family did not need us to care for this one. Whilst that seemed a bit sad it was, for us, the right choice too. I was now 65 and had been caring for little people since I was 47.

 

How different is your relationship with your grandchildren to that with your children?

It is more relaxed and loving without much of the hard work of being a parent.  This for me, is because in having and raising children, we do so much to help them be citizens of the world and find their ways and it can feel relentless at times. The old adage of “I get to send the grandchildren home” at the end of the day resonates with me.

I will add now though, with 3 adult grandchildren, I feel incredibly proud of them and know that they care for me and their grandfather. Their messages to us, hugs and chats when we do get to see them tells us we have made an ever-lasting bond with them.

 

How would you like your grandchildren to think of you/describe you, either now or in the future?

They would describe me are:

  • talkative
  • art & creativity -oriented
  • photo taking
  • cake making
  • iphone app collector of stories to get grandkids to sleep
  • books…oh so much reading encouraged by me
  • toy (and fad) buyer: Night Garden, Teletubbies, Bob the Builder, Fairies, Fisher Price Dolls House…..
  • video and DVD watcher
  • provider of fun
  • sharing of morning tea out somewhere
  • family-history sharer
  • sometimes (a bit)  cranky….toys away, please!!
  • a wonderful hugger
  • thoughtful gift giver
  • always sharing and caring of us
  • Christmas memory maker
  • Diarising and photographing our lives and handing them books and cards filled with memories

What words describe what being a grandmother means to you?

  • I am Grandma.
  • Simple title with enormous privileges of fun, love and sharing
  • Being lovingly connected to a generation one removed from me
  • An experience I have made my own, learned from others in my family who were grandparents and adapted for me
  • Day to day care was a big effort but so enjoyed and am glad I got to be part of their growing lives
  • That I leave with my grandchildren some memories of me, my time of life that they did not experience and a link to carry on

How do you think being a  grandmother has changed you, if at all?

Being a grandmother has changed me in the nicest possible ways. I could never have imagined how it would feel to first gaze upon a wee person, less than a day old, and think “you are from my heritage, and I am your grandmother.” Wow. Still blows my mind. I got to meet EVERY single one of my grandchildren within HOURS of their births.

One memory that stays is meeting B, aged a few minutes. It was after the hottest day in January in 2001 and the storm broke through and unleashed enormous damage outside the hospital as his mum laboured with no epidural as hoped because “too late”…I went for a brief walk along the hospital corridor and when I returned there he was. I got to hold him straight away after his dad passed him over and he engaged me with his eyes. It was amazing. Always remember this.

What, if anything, would you change about your grandmothering experiences?

Nothing at all…other than I would have liked to give Miss M, the ‘8th’ grandchild some one-on-one care as we did for all of the other grandchildren. I feel both we and she missed something special there but I can only say, we do what we can to continue to connect now and know she and her siblings talk of Grandma )(and Papa)

Why was it important to share about becoming and being a grandmother for you?

It was important for me to do this to ensure my family knows how much being a grandmother means to me. I hope, as I know my eldest granddaughter did, that some may choose to read my posts. I know I am more likely to be demonstrative of my love and care for them than I was with their parents.

Maybe that comes with a softening in ageing. I also am a writer who blogs and a sharer of stories and mine is one.

I did get permission for publishing from my family.

What three words describe you as a grandmother?

Loving,

Kind & Caring

Sentimental:

I wear a 3 Uberkate Circle necklace just about every day. You can see it in most of my photos. It has  our names in smallest circle, our kids’ next, and each of the 8 grandchildren’s initials in the largest circles. I also have next to my study two framed collages: one for each family with a photo of every grandchild of the day they were born. There is another place too, in a small house, where each of their individual ‘birth or close to birthday’ photos are displayed. I would show them here but they have identifiers so I won’t.

Thanks to my family for contributing to help me be the person I am, known as

G R A N D M A….one of the nicest words ever….

This was the BEST ever gift Grandma could have been given. For my 70th all of them took part in a great photo shoot. I was blown away by the book, the canvas and as one said “Grandma, you always made us photo books!”

Thanks for reading and do share your words about being a grandmother, a grandchild or what every comes to mind.

Denyse.

 

Debbie and I thought that supplying the questions we came up with  for the two posts might be useful should anyone else want to write about their experiences of grandmothering too. Do copy them and of course adapt as you wish.

Being a Grandmother. Part One.

The First Experience of Becoming a Grandmother.

  • 1.What do you remember about your grandmother(s)?
  • 2.What struck you initially about the news you were going to be a grandmother for the first time?
  • 3. Did you make any choices/decisions about being a grandmother when you found out this was going to happen?
  • 4. And, in your case, was the news from your son or your daughter?
  • 5.How did you find out?
  • 6. Were there any conditions/limitations set by the parents-to-be for you, the new grandmother in the making?
  • 7. Did/does the ‘role’ work its way out for all?
  • 8. About My Name.
  • 9. Are/were there hiccups?
  • 10.Share the highlights of the birth and after of your first grandchild.
  • 11. What, if any, were any ‘lowlights?’
  • 12. Special Memories of the First Weeks.

 

More About Grandmothering.

As Life Moves on In Families. Part Two.

  1. Tell the story of how your name was chosen, by whom, and has that ‘stuck?’
  2. How many grandchildren do you have? (Names used up to you , but initials are OK & year of birth (not date)
  3. Did you share in any of the pre-birth care of siblings or afterwards to help the family. How did this occur?
  4. How different is your relationship with your grandchildren to that with your children?
  5. How would you like your grandchildren to think of you/describe you, either now or in the future?
  6. What words describe what being a grandmother means to you?
  7. How do you think being a  grandmother has changed you, if at all?
  8. What, if anything, would you change about your grandmothering experiences?
  9. Why was it important to share about becoming and being a grandmother for you?
  10. What three words describe you as a grandmother?

Link Up #192.

Life This Week. Link Up #192.

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Life Stories #1. On Being A Grandmother. Pt1.17/51 #LifeThisWeek. 34/2020.

Life Stories #1. On Being a Grandmother. Pt 1.17/51 #LifeThisWeek. 34/2020.

On Being a Grandmother. Part One.

Recently in Australia, a book was published and both Debbie Harris from here and I were taken by its contents and messages about “being a grandmother”.

Debbie’s post is found here. 

GRANDMOTHERS: ESSAYS BY 21ST-CENTURY GRANDMOTHERS

Helen Elliott

PaperBack

March 31, 2020

An anthology of essays by twenty-four Australian women, edited by Helen Elliott, about the many aspects of being a grandmother in the 21st century. It seems so different from the experience we had of our grandmothers. Although perhaps the human essential, love, hasn’t shifted much? In thoughtful, provoking, uncompromising writing, a broad range of women reflect on vastly diverse experiences. This period of a woman’s life, a continuation and culmination, is as defining as any other and the words ‘grand’ and ‘mother’ rearrange and realign themselves into bright focus.

The contributors- Stephanie Alexander, Maggie Beer, Judith Brett, Jane Caro, Elizabeth Cheung, Cresside Collette, Ali Cobby Eckermann, Helen Garner, Anastasia Gonis, Glenda Guest, Katherine Hattam, Celestine Hitiura Vaite, Yvette Holt, Cheryl Kernot, Ramona Koval, Alison Lester, Joan London, Jenny Macklin, Auntie Daphnie Milward, Mona Mobarek, Carol Raye and Gillian Triggs.

We ‘chatted’ on-line as bloggers do and both thought, what about a post or two on this topic. Knowing not everyone who blogs is not a grandmother/parent nor has the experience to draw on, we set out to go like this…publish in Life This Week under #Life Stories #1 and then in a few more weeks, #Life Stories #2.

This first post is based on  a series of questions devised by Denyse Whelan, in conjunction with Debbie Harris, to be the start of a blog post about

Being a Grandmother.

THIS image captures all 8 of our grandchildren so beautifully. Photographed by our daughter, in conjunction with our son to be my 70th Birthday gift as an album. 2019. The first grandchild is in the white dress.

 

The First Experience of Becoming a Grandmother.

 

What do you remember about your grandmother(s)?

I had a loving but strict maternal grandmother, Nanny, and I was the first grandchild. I was loved and cared for but when she became incapacitated by a stroke which eventually claimed her life in 1957, her husband, my “Papa” tended to be the one who spoiled me as life went on.

My paternal grandmother, Gran, was a formidable, strict and somewhat sad grandmother. This was, as we tend to think now, as a result of her becoming a widow in 1935 and raising 4 children (my Dad was 11) alone, other than help from her mother who had come from England to give the family a secure house to live in. Gran would at times, share some of her ‘life stories’ with me as a teen as I asked more questions about her life in England then as a War Bride post WW1 but most times, she would sink back into nostalgia and sadness.

 

What struck you initially about the news you were going to be a grandmother for the first time?

How happy I was…because, the news came in a year that was plagued with money worries,  health fears and more….so this news was the B E S T.

It was, however, not greeted as universally ‘happy’ as we, in a business that we owned, were not doing well at all and I admit my husband’s reactions did not mirror mine for good reason. Very concerned with what else was happening at the time.

We found out in about April, May and the child was due late December. By then, we had liquidated the business and we were very much on the ‘back foot’ with what would be happening to us, house and income-wise (I was still employed) so I did have to “calm” myself. However, big distraction for me and will always remember the time like that. 

 

Did you make any choices/decisions about being a grandmother when you found out this was going to happen?

I recall, being young…at what would be 47 when I became a grandmother but I did not let that phase me. I remember feeling the delight and angst and all the in between feelings because “I” had given birth but my daughter had not..yet. I was, I am pretty sure, deciding to be the most helpful grandmother I could be to allow the parents to ‘parent their child’ in the ways they wanted to and planned. This is always good in theory. Practice not so much initially. See further on.

 

And, in your case, was the news from your son or your daughter?

The news was from our daughter and eventually her husband. 

 

How did you find out?

THIS is a good story! My daughter had been married for just on two years and in that time had completed her Uni degree and was a trained K-6 teacher. She sought casual work and was soon snapped up by the school where I was Deputy Principal. I was not part of her ‘getting the job’ as I wanted (as did she) for this to be the school’s choice. 

She was part of a large group of relatively young female teachers and I, the D.P. was given the role of sharing the news that there had been a case of Rubella in the student population. This was something I passed on privately to each teacher as applicable, including our daughter.

At Recess that day, she came to my office door and asked for a private chat. Closing the door, she shared that “I think I am pregnant.”

Oh. Wow. My goodness, what a way to find out and yes, I was excited but of course tempered by the news of her vulnerability at this stage. The NSW Health Dept advice, which I shared with her, was to go to your doctor and tell him/her. That afternoon she did. The pregnancy was confirmed and she did some blood test for anti-bodies. I can’t quite remember the result but she had Rubella as a child, so was deemed, as best it could be proven, to be OK.

Again. Wow. I remember telling my husband of the news and he did not share my intense enthusiasm but not because of that….he was managing a very tricky time in his business and work life.

Nevertheless, I hugged my secret until our daughter and then son-in-law shared the news with family and friends.

And, recently. Love you J.R.

Were there any conditions/limitations set by the parents-to-be for you, the new grandmother in the making?

I cannot recall but I remember being able to share some of my excitement with them and the extended family which included my son-in-law’s parents and my parents and my husband’s parents. This child would be the first great-grandchild too. I also tried ‘not to overdo’ my enthusiasm as I did not want to over-shadow the parents at any time.

I did, for my sake, and to honour  the future grandchild (our first one, and that of my son-in-law) start a grandmother’s memory book. Oh my goodness, I did have some fun and I admit, the scrapbooking and photography as a journal  probably started then as I added newspaper clippings too. At age 5, this BIG book, was finished ( I remember crying that it was done…as she was off to school!) and eventually it was handed over to my granddaughter some years after. I did keep it at our house for years as she enjoyed looking at it too.

It was not until she was quite a few months old, that I was told by my daughter to reduce my ‘oversight’ of their child..as “I am her mother”.

Lesson learned…Big time. Not always remembered but I took it all on board.

 

Did/does the ‘role’ work its way out for all?

The role as the grandchild grew changed as she did. However, even now, we have a close and loving bond without being ‘in each others’ pockets’. I am so proud to be her Grandma always. But as I said above, I did need to take more of a back seat. 

About My Name.

My parents were known by their first names – their choice – by their grandkids. I wanted a traditional grandmother’s name and I chose Grandma. I spoke to my son-in-law’s Mum and she was happy to be Granny. Sorted! My name did change a bit over the years as the first G.D. started to speak. I have been known as: “Gummy” “Brandma” “Grandma” and “G-Ma”. All fine!

Are/were there hiccups?

Like any relationship there are ups and downs but thanks to wisdom gleaned over time by me observing others and of course, remembering “I am not her mother” and that I also got to drop this child back home after caring for her. A completely different way of child-care…. all fun, some responsibility but not 100%.

Share the highlights of the birth and after of your first grandchild.

For the last month or so before the baby’s due date of close to Christmas Day my daughter developed some symptoms which meant she had to leave her teaching role early, get advice from her obstetrician and continue to see him. In that time, I was also on  leave as I had a whiplash injury from a rear-end car accident on my way to work…thank goodness for work cover paying my salary back in those days.

Whilst we had never really talked about when my daughter would return to teaching in detail, I was already planning a grandchild care package at home! This came about with little or no expense when our next door neighbour donated all of the young girl’s bedding, cot and so on to us. My parents had always had room for our children to stay over for holidays and weekends and we (ok, mostly me!) wanted to do similarly. And yes, my husband did eventually come around to it all.

But she (we never knew the sex) was yet to arrive!

My daughter had 2 or 3 visits to labour ward at the San for testing for ‘leaks’ and was told, no you are OK on most occasions until very close to Christmas. It was a Saturday evening, my son-in-law was at a band gig on the other side of Sydney, and I went to their house to get takeaway tea and keep my daughter company. She told me on arrival, I am still leaking….and rang labour ward (again!) and they said “come in.” We grabbed the food first and I am pretty sure she drove us to the San. Up we went (with hospital bag this time) and after the check and a call to her doctor, she was admitted.

Rightio.

Mobile phones were ‘in’ but in their early days but we managed to let her husband know and then, from memory, I took their car home and collected mine and waited. The next day, a very hot Sunday in December, labour was kind of happening….and I was asked to bring some things over to her. I did.

THIS was when I knew I could not be a help at all. I saw her husband helping gently and she was doing all she had to…and I could not help. At all. So, I quietly took my leave and we waited….until much later on Sunday night. We got a call that labour was in progress fully and could we please bring her husband a Coke…caffeine and sugar needed!! We laugh now, but when presented with what my husband found at home: a diet Pepsi, it was not going to do the trick!

We came home…settled into bed, to see Sunday turn into Monday AND……

12.13 a.m. You have a granddaughter and her name is J.R.

Stunned and stoked and all those words, I “think” we slept and the next morning I was off to buy all things pink and more….

Meeting J.R. 

I entered the single room where my daughter and granddaughter were. My son-in-law had to be at work on the busy pre-Christmas retail day. I looked at this dark haired child in a crib…and thought “how did you arrive to be in our family?”. Both of our kids had been blonde/bald!

After that, it was chatting with my daughter who was still in that post-birth shock and she shared how it all happened rather fast after a ‘threat’ from the Obstetrician about a ‘caesar or forceps’…I eventually took my leave…and went to the shops! This baby girl had arrived 2 days before Christmas and no way was Santa not going to visit.

When I returned the next day with Santa bag and little tree, it meant Christmas was going to happen for the birthday baby.

What, if any, were any ‘lowlights?’

Interestingly the lowlights were in some way related to my disappointment in how many people “turned up” to visit the new Mum and baby…the room was chockers….and people just wanted to chat…with each other and my daughter. I was glad to see what was happening, and as most took their leave, and J.R. was crying, I asked the last couple to please leave…and they did. I think first night after birth should be up to the parents who comes…and I know now this is better managed.

Our wee GD with dark hair.

Special Memories of the First Weeks.

The hospital allowed our daughter and husband home to our place for Christmas lunch and they ‘minded’ J.R. in the nursery. They went back in the afternoon and we visited in the evening to allow the parents to go for a walk and we got to do our first ‘babysitting.’

I made J.R. a little cardigan. I am so NOT a knitter but was determined to “make my first grandchild” something. She wore it home. Lovely. Then it became a cardi for her bear I think!

The new family joined us for the first evening meal at our place and we got to go on a walk around the park. My neighbour over the road offered me a free ticket to a show in the city and I turned it down because “first meal” at our place.

On Australia Day, when she was just one month, we hosted a Welcome To Your Family event with the extended family and it was lovely. No christening etc. Just this.

Then, just after this, my daughter got a phone call from the principal at the school where we both worked, offering her full-time teaching, starting the next week. She accepted after he was fine for me to take part-time leave 3 days a week. Her Granny would drive down from the Central Coast to do the other 2 days and so began a long, tiring, rewarding, learning, and loving experience of “Grandparent Care At Home”: for 6 months!

 

There will be another post in the series in June. I will share the questions then too as Debbie and I devised. If you too are a grandmother it may be something you would like to share.

Thank you for reading…It ended up being a longer post than I thought.

Biggest thanks to J.R. for being the subject…the first…the only…one who could get away with calling me “Gummy” and I would answer to it!

This captures her so much too…totally biased Grandma!

Denyse.

Link Up #186.

Life This Week. Link Up #186.

You can link up something old or new, just come on in.

* Please add just ONE post each week! NOT a link-up series of posts, thank you.

* Feel free to go with the prompt for the week to add your ‘take’ on the prompt. Or not.

* Please do stay to comment on my post as I always reply and it’s a bloggy thing to do!

* Check out what others are up to: Leave a comment on a few posts, because we all love our comments, right!

* Add a link back to this blog in your post somewhere, or on your sidebar or let others know somewhere you are linking up to this blog’s Life This Week.

*Posts deemed by me, the owner of the blog & the link-up, to be unsuitable for my audience will be deleted without notice. These may include promotions, advertorials and any that are overly religious or political or in any way offensive  in nature.

* THANK you for linking up today!

Next Week’s weekly optional prompt is: 18/51 Taking Stock #2 4.5.2020

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Two Years Ago: Before My Cancer Was Diagnosed. Pt 3. 35/2019.

Two Years Ago: Before My Cancer Was Diagnosed. Pt 3. 35/2019.

Thanks to readers who have commented on these posts.

They are, in some ways, very personal and maybe a bit indulgent but they are going a long way for me to feel better and recovering well from my version of head and neck cancer, found in my upper gums and under one lip.

The first two posts about the two years ago can be found here and here.

My last words on the previous post were these:

“take the teeth and bridge out, I HAVE to know what is underneath!”. I was a bit better-mannered than that with my request to my dentist but inside I felt these words more!

Why Did I Want The Teeth Taken Out?

For well over 6 months from late 2016 into 2017  this dentist and I worked on “what could be going on with my gums”.

This is why.

  • My upper gums were sore and red. They felt that way in part of my upper palate (roof of my mouth).
  • There was a ‘feeling’ of skin tearing up behind the covered part of the gums as I had a bridge permanently in my mouth.
  • The bridge (and a crown) had been added to the 6 front teeth spaces to add to my appearance and function as the original teeth had been heavily filled and already had been treated to the maximum by the dentist in Castle Hill in 2010-2011.
  • I went along with this procedure without question as I was promised it would be better. It was paid for by Medicare for people like me with chronic dental issues back then.
  • I admit I was ignorant of the what and how of the procedure but it seemed to be right. I trusted the dentist.
  • What did happen over and over from then until April 2017 is each new and subsequent dentist (3 in total)  told me “You are not cleaning behind the bridge properly”.
  • I did what I could. It was a very awkward and uneven space and even the dentists were challenged with their instruments.
  • “You have candida” I was often told. Yes, OK. I took so many fungalin tablets and added nilstat as a mouthwash only to find no change, and diarrheoa as a side affect. NOT something I welcomed with IBS already the ‘beast within’.

The mouth still hurt.

I had thorough cleaning at the dentist as late as March 2017.

The mouth still hurt.

I watched the gums slowly creep over the top of the front teeth.

The mouth hurt more.

But still this dentist wanted to investigate more even though he said theoretically he could take the teeth and bridge out.

I went through trying to get myself tested for nickel sensitivity – nickel is part of the bridge. I chose not to. I wanted action.

I could not eat much at all – combination of the very sore mouth and anxiety about it and good ole IBS.

So, the deal was struck. My teeth and the bridge they were on were coming out of my mouth on 6 April.

But wait….

I am too scared to both travel AND to do this! Right?

From my journal the day before:

On Wed 5 April I was nervous about the upcoming dentist trip

I did go out & do things but the “enormity” of what was ahead overwhelmed me

I broke down & just couldn’t see how I could deal with it

B was good at listening but I knew that despite the dread & worry & fear IF I didn’t go through with it it would be :

Avoiding

  • Would make it worse
  • I’d not get my mouth fixed

So I took steps to make sure I got there:

1. 1/4 Valium in arvo & then at night helped reduce the internal rumblings

2. I told myself it was a positive to be getting it done as it’s troubled me for so long I couldn’t let it go on & on

3. I needed to tell myself the outcome & process had to happen. I stopped thinking there was doubt or other choices. I needed to own this

4. I ate small because I was scared of IBS but that’s not new.

5. I knew I could take immodium if there was a reason

6. I used the hypnosis from audible in a big way

7. I had B taking me & he agreed to do it anything to make it work.

The day came. It was just after lunch. Not that I ate any! Yes, my dear husband did drive me and yes, I took medication as advised. I was warmly greeted by the team who really understood this was hard for me. I had my iphone and  earbuds and a hypnosis session ready. It started with LOTS of needles and reassurance all the way. I could give a signal to stop (I did only need that to tell them it was still hurting too much). I could also ask for a break to go to the loo. I did that once. By the time I decided I had enough…it was done. I was surprised. My husband had sat in the room reading as I was treated and it was nice to know he was there.

I knew there would be a denture put in – and whilst that did not hurt then  it did later. I had the model made the week before. So, then I was shown the teeth and bridge. I took a photo but not the teeth with me. The dentist’s opinion at the time was that everything looked OK gum and bone wise and I would see him the following week. I just needed to get back in the car and home. It was done! Over.

Afterwards I recorded this:

 Mouth sore & swollen

 Ice packs on my mouth

Taking medication – neurofen & anti-biotic

 Still got some bleeding (6 hours later)

Headache & tired

 Ate squashed pear, yoghurt & grated cheese & PButter

Very proud of myself and was told by B I was great.

Now if only IBS would bugger off!

Back to dentist next week to check it out & adjust the partial denture.

It

Is

Over.

Then I had about a week of pretty intense pain manipulating the partial denture in and out of the top gums. The gums were sore. I just expected that I guess. The following week, I re-visited the dentist alone with more self-confidence albeit in pain, where he adjusted the denture, told me what to look out for and I would see him in around 4-5 weeks.

And so, within that period of waiting, things did not progress as well as either of us hoped.

There will be a fourth part to this lead up to the Two Years Since My Cancer Diagnosis.

I hope that sharing my story is somewhat helpful to you. However, I must add, as my Head and Neck Surgeon told me:

“Denyse your cancer is rare and you getting it with no risk factors (smoking, drinking) is even rarer”

With Prof Clark – My Head and Neck Surgeon at Chris O’Brien Lifehouse.

Thanks for being part of the journey in these posts I am writing…for good reason and for information shared as I so often need to do since my Head and Neck cancer diagnosis.

Denyse.

Joining with Sue and Leanne here for Wednesday’s Midlife Share The Love linky,

With Leanne on Thursday for Lovin Life link up here AND with Alicia on Fridays for Open Slather here.

Thank you all for your link ups.

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