What a big year we have had. Dear Old Dad is still going strong even though he said last Christmas that he thought it would be his last, and also said he didn’t think he would make his 95th birthday, and yet he did. When I say he is still going strong, there is an almost imperceptible increase in his frailty, demonstrated by more caution when walking.
The small ulcer on his left ankle has been gradually diminishing. It has been such a big part of our lives that I feel it is almost time to give it its own name. Ursula the Ulcer perhaps? Ulysses? Whatever, it celebrated its first birthday just a few weeks ago. My sister suggested a cake with a candle. But I dislike Ulysses/Ursula the ulcer intensely.
At the beginning of the year I had XYZ Care Pty Ltd coming to do the ulcer dressing change – bit this did not end well. I keep saying it until I am blue in the face – the one thing aged care providers need to understand is that their business model needs to be based on the needs of the client, the elderly person, not the needs of the form filling bureaucracy they have created. A different nurse came every time; at a different time, and there was no consistency of care. So I became chief nurse – I could tell if it had changed, or was becoming infected. And it is almost healed. Fingers crossed it will be cleared up at the end of January. That would be a lovely start to 2018 for both of us.
There were challenges at the start of the year, once again demonstrating dad’s resilience. He gave up driving at the end of 2016 (although I keep joking that he has only given up driving from behind the wheel – he likes to drive from the passenger seat). Shortly after that he had a fall and had a small fracture in his right wrist which temporarily limited his movement – but not his ability to win at cards and scrabble
Five Good Friends has been godsend to both me and Dad – every Tuesday and Friday, a lovely woman comes, (the same person, at the same time) to take dad to the shops, library, barber, bank and any other local place he needs to go. She also fits in a game of scrabble on a Friday. Dad wrote to friends at Christmas to tell them about Five Good Friends and his own Good Friend who had become a dear friend, with a small ‘f’.
Our cribbage battle has continued throughout the year. Since I started keeping score in April 2011, we have had over 1500 games – when Dad wrote his Christmas letter it was 808 to him and 758 to me. Crafty old fox. I am not a particular fan of scrabble, however note that the two games we have had this year have each been won by me.
One of my neighbours loves scrabble and pops around on a Monday afternoon to have a game with him as well.
I put a call out on the neighbourhood Facebook page to see if there was someone local who could take his paper up to the front stairs and the call was answered by a lovely man who lives down the road. In the same vein, the postman gets off his motor bike and puts Dad’s mail on a stand at the top of the stairs near the front door. With all the horrible news in the world, there is a great deal of kindness as well.
Dad’s brother, our uncle, visited again in April this year. It is so lovely to see them reconnect after many years of not seeing each other. My siblings and I are also blessed to have him in our lives, and I was privileged to be able to visit him in the UK in September, as was my sister earlier in the year.
Most importantly, at 95, Dad has continued to practice his faith and continues his Ministry – attending church twice a week, and doing intercessions on Sundays. In the space of ten days in October, he gave the last rites to a dear friend, preached at her funeral, and travelled to Sydney for a weekend to baptise his second great grand-daughter, my sister’s grandchild, all of which he does in a manner which inspires respect and admiration. It takes it out of him, he says, as he uses up a lot of energy doing these things, and yet it is these things which give him focus and purpose in life (apart from beating me at cribbage).
He celebrated his 66th anniversary of ordination this month.
He was awarded the Coaldrake medal by the Australian Board of Missions in November, in recognition of his work with missions, both in his time as Qld state secretary in the 1970s, and his continuing work raising money for their projects by analysing, sorting and selling stamps donated to ABM.
Purpose trumps everything in my view, and Dad has it in spades.
Happy New Year!