It doesn’t matter what age we are, there is always so much learning available to us. I remember when I was young I thought I knew everything and now I realise more and more just how much I don’t know. My experience in the past nine months has been a huge awakening for me and I feel myself heading in a new direction.
In May last year I was given the responsibility for the care of my ex husband’s wife. I needed to rescue her from a dangerous situation. She reached out to me and I reluctantly took up the challenge. It has been a much bigger responsibility than I had previously thought and it is only now that I am realising how much I have learnt from being thrown into a situation I hadn’t expected. I wondered how I could possibly manage any more than I was doing and thought I would just find a suitable place for her.
Of course it didn’t work out like that and I found myself becoming more and more immersed in the world of aged care. I felt the responsibility of being the only person who could help her. Putting myself in her place I could really feel how terrible it would be to be alone at this vulnerable time of your life. I made a contract with myself to do the best I could for her for the rest of her life – for however long that might be.
There were times when I regretted my contract, especially when she went through a period of delirium, exacerbating her vascular dementia which had been hovering for some time. For a period of time she became angry and very difficult to be around. One day, in the midst of this period, I called in to see her and she looked at me and asked why I was doing this as she had never done anything for me. I looked back at this woman whose values were so different from mine and who, over the years I hadn’t even particularly liked, and at that moment it was as if I could see right into her soul. I was able to sincerely answer that it was because I loved her. This was the moment that I really understood that you don’t really have to like someone to be able to love them and from that moment on I felt my love for her grow stronger.