Yes please. Call that motherf***ing ambulance and tell them it’s an (admittedly first world) emergency, where dreams and aspirations have engaged in a head-on collision with life, there’s hopes and passions scattered all over the highway of my soul and the biggest casualty is my ego. Whatevs. That shit still stings.
So the “here’s the shortest version of this shitfight that I can muster up the energy to recount” version of events is as follows.
2014 was supposed to be the year where my humble little fambily of five moved to Melbourne, to the wondrous Dandenongs (it’s a place that makes you feel like Enid Blyton finally got in touch with rocking cafe culture), into our dream house complete with chooks, vege patch, cubby house, the whole shebang, with our new retrievador puppy, where I would follow the comedy dream in fabulous Melbourne while raising my kids in one of the most magical communities on earth.
Stars aligned. Things fell into place. I couldn’t believe it. It was PURE UNADULTERATED MAGIC.
For a few months.
Cut to six months later and…drumroll please…
– my marriage has ended (a very long time coming, but still…);
– the dream house is now a very bittersweet memory;
– we have moved back to Queensland…and can I just officially state this for the record in the chance that somebody should ever google “should I move an entire family interstate twice in six months?” the answer is NO NO NO NO NO. Not unless you are a masochist. In which case, I am sure there are far cheaper ways to torture yourself;
– my mum (well actually my grandmother who raised me, hence the well-earned “Mum” title) has had a rather dramatic decline in health thanks to a couple of dreadful falls combined with too many complications to bother listing here;
– my sister and I packed up Mum’s entire flat and grieved the shit out of her imminent death;
– the roller coaster twisted yet again, when Mum, a couple of weeks after going off all her medication and entering palliative care, had a bizarre and quite dramatic recovery (so unexpected that I am still almost pinching myself that she is even still here) and now, though her mobility is hugely limited, looks like she may carry on for months, perhaps even years;
– the kids and I have moved in with my sister and her hubby and two kids in Brisbane with Mum joining us earlier this week. That makes a household of TEN. Three adults, one elderly lady, one tweenager, a primary school boy and three kids under five. I occasionally burst into “Do-Re-Mi” and look eyeingly at our curtains;
– I have cancelled 100% of the professional opportunities that were to happen this year (including a season at Melbourne Fringe, an amazing grant I got to go to Canada to attend a bucket list improv intensive with Keith Johnstone, gigs, cruises, etc., all now gone) and have now officially changed careers in the short-term from “Professional Comedian Pursuing the Dream in Melbourne” to “Full-time Personal Carer Pursuing Sanity in Brisbane”;
To add to the drama, both my eldest and my middle child have been in hospital these past few weeks, today my littlest came down with a horrid and dare I say rather disgusting ear infection (but hey, I’m a carer now, fluids are officially no longer allowed to bother me!), then not to be left out, this avo our dog got a tick.
So yes. Excuse me while I get this out of my system:
( Yes, we still have the Retrievador puppy. #WINNING!)
Forgive me my outpouring, I am fully aware there are many people in this world struggling far more than I, but I simply have to get all of that out of my heart and onto the cyber-page in order to make way for what I hope is actually NOT going to be a whiny, whingeing blog of self-indulgent poor-me-ing, but rather, a creative outlet in a stressful chapter of my life, possibly filled with some philosophical ramblings and reflections on what a life of purpose actually looks like.
Because that’s exactly what this experience is forcing me to do thus far: reflect on life in a different way. Thus far I’ve kinda prided myself on making the most out of it, daring to dream big and go for what I want, because life is too short not to. Only now I’m seeing it a little differently. What really does make a life well-lived? Achieving dreams? Ticking off items on a bucket list? Responding to the call of family? Looking after others? Sacrifice? I truly don’t know. But I am thinking about it. A lot.
So yes. Here. Sharing. Probably not a lot of answers, but quite likely a lot of questions!
Back when I was first flying from Melbourne to see Mum after her rapid decline (at which point I had no idea what lay ahead in terms of actually moving back, it was simply a trip to see her and help out as much as I could), my shuttle bus driver, upon hearing about Mum’s state told me that his father had died a few years back. “The thing I really miss,” he said, “is his advice. Even when I wouldn’t take it, I would always ask Dad what he thought. I really miss not being able to hear that anymore.”
I want to use this time with Mum – however long it is that we have, I am certainly beyond grateful that I have the chance to share this “bonus round” of life with her so intimately – to greedily gather her wisdom, to record it, to write it down, so that I can remember it. I may share some of it here.
It’ll be kinda like “Tuesdays with Morrie” only “Every Single Day with Elaine.”
When we were tying ourselves in knots trying to work out what the best care option was for Mum, when it came to making the final decision to commit to being her carer, the thing it came down to for me was our rather unique personal history.
When I was five and my sister two, our real mother died suddenly of an aneurism. My grandmother says that when the subject of where us kids would go came up, she turned to my uncle and said “I couldn’t possibly take the children!” Which was a fair call. She was in her sixties, single (her husband having passed away over a decade before), not at all equipped for young children to come into the picture…the thought of having us disrupt “the dream” of a relaxing retirement must have been inconvenient to say the least.
But…she did it anyway.
She took us on. In spite of the bad timing. In spite of the grief. In spite of the upheaval that would mean to her planned life of lawn bowls, socialising and doing-whatever-the heck-she-wanted.
It does seem only fair that now it’s my turn.