Tag Archives: carers

… the opportune elevator pitch …

Image by Carol & Mike Werner

Image by Carol & Mike Werner

Once a hotel, now a home for senior citizens, to live independently or, when needed, access a care unit, is the place my father chose as exit platform. The building has Escher-like features. Doors along every corridor look alike. The only way to determine floor levels are the artworks of residents gracing the walls. At one end of the building is a sluggish and brainless elevator. Hardly bigger than a telephone cell, it is airtight and eerily silent. Once inside, the occupant is suspended in time, with no sense of movement, up or down.

‘Can we squeeze in?’ I ask, pushing my dad’s wheelchair into the tiny cubicle. The man is baffled. Landing at ground level was not his intention. He is the reticent carer in training that worries dad, who detects a touch of paranoia, a sentiment he himself is familiar with, plagued at times by imagined dubious intentions of people. I’m a lost case to paranoia, but I allow for paranoid people’s intelligence. They value truth.

Occasional bouts of confusion haven’t impaired my dad’s wit. He suggested we should discover what interests the uncommunicative carer  so we can butter him up. I tried, going about it the wrong way. ‘Do you like alcohol?’ I enquired, thinking of a choice bottle from my dad’s apartment, the home I must soon dissolve.

‘I’m no alcoholic,’ was the curt reply. Newcomers from Eastern Europe tend to have admirable principles.

With the three of us trapped, sans sound, at snail-pace, embarrassment has no distraction other than a mirror covering one wall.  ‘Ah Herr W, how are we today?’

‘So, so,’ my dad says, with a melancholic pout.

The mournful air compels the carer’s curiosity. ‘What things interest you?’

‘Everything,’ my dad says, ‘the whole world. ‘And he cunningly adds, ‘what interests you?’

‘Everything,’ says the carer, ‘countries, people, science, religion …’ The elevator door opens to the care unit … ‘most of all religion.’

Pa at St Michael 1967

Dad at St Michael 1967

My dad shoots me a wicked smile. His library, I discovered, apart from books on art and travel, had accumulated works on ideological themes he used to rubbish with a vengeance. As a young mother in rural Somerset, insular for a while, I did an OU course on Comparative Religion, wanting to explore the key influences prophets and their early followers had on cultures throughout history. My dad’s comment at the time was, ‘Next you’ll send Jehovah preachers to my door.’ Attempts to bridge our bizarre dissonances had only ever elicited angry reactions, which I chose not to energise, enduring the grief. My dad’s cranky nature shielded a fine intellect, fed by reading and extensive travelling. His disapproval of me, I sensed, held a childlike envy of my bohemian autonomy, freedoms not available after the war. We battled with our shadows in isolation, me remaining the wayward daughter that lived abroad.

During my most recent visit, I arranged for some of my dad’s paintings, photographs, books and creative tools to be around him in his care abode. They’ll provide openings for conversation with those who now look after his daily needs.

Our war is over. It is heartening to observe how my dad’s reclusive attitude softens and, like blossoms falling this spring, gives way to new fruit.

Out Beyond Ideas

Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing,
there is a field.  I’ll meet you there.

When the soul lies down in that grass,
the world is too full to talk about.
Ideas, language, even the phrase each other
doesn’t make any sense

Rumi, translated by Coleman Barks

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… Is a parent ever unemployed ? …

Something new – AVAAZ encourages individual campaigns now . I started one. Click the link and read the proposal, and if you like the idea vote for it.

http://www.avaaz.org/en/petition/Put_parents_on_the_payroll/?fHNQuab&pv=0

Yes, it makes sense – put parents on the payroll – tied to the attendance of courses.  Here some more thoughts as to why …

Family structures are changing for a variety of reasons. No use blaming parents and home-makers that are unable to cope. No good romanticising the past. Parents and carers need  support in this time of flux.  New structures are emerging, single parents or carers, for example, seek families of heart and mind. Our policy-makers don’t seem to take note of this phenomenon. Think of independent units around a communal space that would allow socialising and the sharing of skills.

And why not use the psychological knowledge that has been available for decades? Why is this knowledge not disseminated to parents? Corporations require further training from their employees, offer courses that teach people skills, because they realise these skills improve business.

Parenting is important business, without question the most important one.  Years ago, when I was involved with Parent-Link, sharing skills, I had an idea how to create more opportunities for parents and raise their status. You can read about it by clicking on the AVAAZ link above.  And please vote, or come up with your own ideas.

Present social policies often force a mother or father to beg alms from the state, become unemployed. Is a parent ever unemployed?  Children are the future and must concern us all. I meet many parents, who, even with heightened awareness, tenacity, creativity and sacrifice, struggle to stay sane.

Thanks

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