This is not my work, it was sent to me by a friend and fellow parky. It resonates, however, because it has recently become clearer to me that we parkies all stand on the edge of darkness. We know what this darkness hides, but we point our torches behind us. We would do well to accept what is past, and prepare for what’s to come. Because come it will, and it takes no prisoners.
My door ajar, a straight-backed woman’s shadow steps into the still, musky darkness of my bedroom. Though the room is where I sleep, it is not my home. It is called an Aged care facility. I have become one of those waiting for God. Recently, though, I am doing more seeking than waiting. The shadow’s name is Doreen. With her kind eyes, brushed bob, ironed night gown and red fluffy slippers; she could have been the actress appearing in a Mothers day advertisement. Neither Doreen nor I live the fairy tale life that seems to be some other women’s reward. Perhaps, that only applies to me, as Doreen appears content in the world she occupies. Dysphragia relates to the deterioration of ones swallowing reflex. The muscles also cause problems with speech. This condition answers Doreen’s question. Why a seemingly younger, older, woman is living in an Aged care facility. I also suffer from the same condition but as yet it is not complete. I was diagnosed with Early Onset Parkinson’s Disease at 45 years old and l am now 56. Athough I have children, they have busy lives. I did ask if the three of them would share my care, but they all answered that it was too onerous a task. My youngest Rachel, a 21 year old University sturdent gave a more honest answer. ”I want to remember you mum as you are and were, not as you will become.“ I have looked at myself in the mirror any number of times. i see a thinner, older, greyer me but still me. At this very point in time I am memorable rather than ordinary. Doreen, no doubt has her own story but I am content to know her here and now. She has a daughter who visits, speaks with a raised voice. The daughter does not recognise that she diminishes herself and sounds pathetically patronising. In my mind I readied myself for the conversation with Doreen by imagining a cartoonist’s talk bubbles, heavy like cow udders. Within Doreen are sensations, I imagine her hands softly squeezing forth sounds that make sense to her and somehow to me. Not words but intuition, fears, happiness, questions. I have been a writer and reader all my life. As my speaking ability leaves me, I am left with my senses and I see that words, trap and lock sensations away in boxes of labels. I also suffer dysphragia, however, for now only a couple of hours each day. As the dysphragia increases I feel relieved. The need to explain, find the most appropriate words unnecessary. I need not concern myself that i might offend anyone. Doreen holds a bra to me as a gift. As the movement range of my arms diminishes I can see no need to wear any more than is necessary. Doreen did not offer me the underwear because she felt I offended but as a kind hearted gesture because i had few clothes and no bras. I thanked my fellow resident, with a hug, she articulates unfamiliar sounds, smiles with a concerned expression, turns and shuffles back to her room.