Vale Papa

body of water between green leaf trees
Photo by Ian Turnell on Pexels.com

My Dad peacefully passed away at home on Thursday the 9th of December 2021.

Words will never explain my feelings towards my extraordinary Dad. As a young person I firmly believed that by the time my Dad would be old enough to die, they would have invented a cure for death. Here we are many many years later, and no such cure has been invented.

He did it his way in the end, which was waiting for us to not be in the room with him. I’d been there with him almost every minute of the preceding 6 days since he was placed into palliative care, sleeping just one room away with my subconscious tuned into his every breath. Not going to lie there wasn’t a lot of sleep had and the quality of it wasn’t great, but what Dad needed was more important than what I needed at that time.

I had gone with the other half to get his daily scripts of morphine and another drug they use – usually either Mum or The Other Half would go. As the weekend was coming up and we’d had some trouble sourcing these drugs from our usual chemists the doctor had ordered enough for the weekend and we finally had found a pharmacy that tends to stock plenty of them given they supply all the local nursing homes.

While we were gone Mum had gone upstairs to send some emails. When she came back down he was not breathing anymore. She called The Other Half kind of in a panic saying she thought Dad was gone – I was just coming out the door of the shopping centre so The Other Half motioned and yelled out the car window that I should hurry.

We got back home to discover Mum was right. The geriatrician had been right about a fast decline. But Dad had also been right too – it was just a forgotten thing at that moment. It wasn’t until my Adelaide family arrived for the funeral that my Aunt reminded me..

On the 29th of October after the geriatrician sat Dad down to tell him the diagnosis, we came back here and sat out in the nirvana to have coffee. Dad called his sister (my aunt) and said “they’ve given me six weeks to live”. My sister and I looked at each other quizzically – no time frames had been mentioned and the geriatrician had been very specific with us about that – saying she couldn’t say how long it would be but that she thought it would be rapid.

Dad passed away exactly 5 weeks and 6 days later.

Many people find death scary but something that I have learned as part of this process is that I am not one of those people.

It might not sound right to anyone else but I was really happy for Dad. When his body had let him down nearly ten years beforehand, he coped very well with that. He did not cope at all well when his mind chose to let him down. Watching him go through this constant confusion and agitation and distress was hard for us all.

The hardest moment for me during this time was when I had to leave Dad in the dementia unit that first day. He just wanted to go home. I just wanted to take him home. So when it came to palliative care I was determined it would be at home as he would have wanted it to be. Mum was not so sure to begin with but now she is convinced it was the right and best thing for us to do. I am so glad we chose it, not only was he comfortable in his own home but we were able to be comfortable there and we could be with him 24/7 which would not have been possible in hospital.

Two things really helped me through this time. The first is going to sound quite crazy but it was a TV show I discovered earlier this year called The Casketeers. This is a TV show about a funeral home in New Zealand. The traditions they have around death are far more beautiful than ours – our traditions tend to keep death at arms length. One of their traditions is to dress the body and thanks to having seen that, I chose to do that for Dad.

The other thing was a book I was reading in the week Dad was in the geriatric unit called “Smoke gets in your eyes” by Caitlin Doughty. On Amazon it says of this book – “Exploring our death rituals – and those of other cultures – she pleads the case for healthier attitudes around death and dying.” – it really helped me with my attitude to all that was happening.

On returning home to find Dad had made his departure, we sat with him while we waited for the palliative care nurse to attend and issue us the required paperwork. We sat with him while we waited for the funeral home to arrive and collect him.

While we’d been waiting I realised letting him leave the house was going to be the hardest and most emotional moment for me, but I need not have feared.

The wonderful team who arrived read the room perfectly and when I said “do you want us to leave the room while you do what you need to do” – they said of course not, you have been caring for him, you can help us if you want. They made me a part of the process of his leaving the house. I even got to wheel him out on the stretcher and load him into the van. I can’t tell you how much being a part of that meant to me. Thus I did not lose it as I had expected I would.

There certainly have been tears during this time. I’m sad for my Dad who worked so hard for so many years and retired too late to enjoy what he had earned and travel as he wanted to. Covid kicked off the month after they retired so the world cruise, trips to Hawaii and Italy did not happen.

My Dad was always there for me whenever I needed him and this year I have been able to return that favour to him. He would be tremendously proud of how strong I was for him. I am still shocked at it myself. Dad taught me so much about myself during this time and I won’t ever be quite the same, but in a good way.

I am concerned there is going to come a day when I fall in a heap but I’m learning that for me grief is not really quite like that. It is the small moments when I least expect it – when I went to Aldi and saw someone wearing a similar pair of shoes to Dad’s – when the airconditioner at our hotel didn’t work and I thought I’ll call Dad, he’ll know how to fix it before realising I can’t call Dad. I can never call Dad again.

I will leave you with this thought from the speech I gave at his funeral, which was honestly the best funeral I have ever been to and a fitting send off for Dad with over 100 people attending and many more watching online.

At the end right before he entered palliative care Dad became very impatient. He would say Let’s go, let’s go. What do we do now? What’s next?

What would he want me (us) to do next? Dad’s biggest regret was that he didn’t travel while he could have. He could have taken holidays or time off from work. He could have asked someone else to step up to the plate and be the reliable one for a while. That thing you have always wanted to do but kept putting off – stop doing that to yourself. Take the holidays you are entitled to. Gather ye rosebuds while ye may. Seize the day. All that stuff from the Dead Poets Society movie – but this time, let us all actually DO IT.

Because they are not inventing a cure for death, friends.

aerial photography of water beside forest during golden hour
Photo by Sindre Strøm on Pexels.com

family, Uncategorized

I should be doing a million other things but..

instead I would like to sit here and update you on the goings on. How did this begin? Back in March 2021, I talked with my sister as my parents flat out refused to go to the doctor at all, for anything. I was worried about Dad as he’d started to have some memory issues and to be fair I was convinced these issues were related to his not having the vitamin B shots he was supposed to have regularly.

So my sister and my nephew came down for a visit and we took Dad to the doctor and he passed the memory test. We got him a blood test which showed he was low in vitamin b as expected, so we got that shot done and expected there to be an improvement, which there kinda sorta was, for a short time. And luckily he now had a new doctor who was quite good at keeping them coming back for other things so he could monitor what was going on.

As the months went by there was quite a bit of sudden weight loss – 16kg in total – which concerned the doctor so he sent Dad for more tests, and to a dietician, and then one night I got a phone call from Dad about 10:15pm where he was telling me there was this strange woman in the house trying to steal his phone. He seemed super agitated and I wasn’t quite sure what the deal was so The Other Half and I went over there.

Dad was convinced that Mum was.. not Mum. This person looked like Mum and spoke like Mum but was most definitely Not Mum, according to him. I called his doctor the next day and did a telehealth appointment and that got us on the road to finding the most awesome geriatrician – she is wonderful. She ordered a new battery of tests one of which was the MRI which got us to a diagnosis of frontotemporal dementia with a side of Capgras delusion, which is essentially –

Capgras delusion is a psychiatric disorder in which a person holds a delusion that a friend, spouse, parent, or other close family member (or pet) has been replaced by an identical impostor.

So that diagnosis was a few weeks ago and ever since I’ve had to be the circuit breaker between Mum and Dad, I’ve had to spend the majority of my time over there. We’ve had a team of folks put into place to help us most notably being the older persons mental health care team.

We were told the decline would be fast from here and it has been very fast. There are a few motor disorders which tend to come with this and we’ve had issues with his swallowing, sometimes things go down the wrong way.

We also got a bit of reduplicative paramnesia which kept telling Dad he was not at home when he was. The easiest way to solve that was to put him in the car, drive him around the block, and then get him to direct us back home.

Mum has really struggled with all of this, and last Tuesday she couldn’t cope anymore. We ended up in hospital, and then Dad was sent to a secure dementia unit to see if we could adjust his medications somewhat and whether maybe his delusions might lessen in a different place. Also they wanted Mum to get a decent break because it has been 24/7 for her for weeks now. So she was banned from going to see him for a couple of days and that meant it was all me.

Lucky for me one of my customers was the first nurse I saw when I entered the unit and she really made my first day so much easier. She also got the visiting times waived for me so I could go in whenever I was able to, and I’ve spent about five hours each day there this last week, I took Mum in for her first visit and now we are alternating visits.

Lucky for us he did not have any capgras with her while I was there and she’s been in for another visit on her own since without any such incidents. It might have helped that I told him the unit was secure and “mother 2” as he calls her is not allowed in.

Where do we go from here? I really am not sure. We have family from Adelaide coming up for a visit next week and we hope he can come back home for that time.

We have managed at the moment to stabilise his weight due in large part to me constantly presenting food to him plus my awesome packed with nutrients protein shakes.

Work has become last priority at the moment which is not great for work but it is necessary just now. We need to do what we need to do.

So now I’ll go take a shower as I’ve had a lazy morning in my jammies writing this post, drinking my coffee and relaxing for the first time in ages. Then I’ll put in a couple of hours work before I head in to visit Dad at 4pm.

family

Posting & Click And Collect

Andrew at High Riser wrote a post last Sunday which had something in it that I’ve been thinking about all week – thanks Andrew because it has been a very tough week here. We’re going through the process of a Dementia diagnosis for my Dad which is another story, but I was grateful to mentally write this post over and over again in my head over the past few days.

What sparked these mental gymnastics? This post and the following quote –

I ordered this superior one by click and collect. I was cross with Rebel Sport because I could not do so without giving my exact home address. Why, if I am collecting it? 

Andrew @ High Riser

Let us start by looking at the information they want –

First of all, you could have entered in any information you liked and as long as you weren’t paying by credit card, you could have likely got away with it. Their system (and many systems out there) is designed to work with the Australia Post system which makes posting things a lot easier for the retailer AND Australia Post. You have to select an address and all the information including postcode is there ready and waiting. Like this –

Why is that so? Because apparently in this world there are some people who do not know their actual address, postcode, or state they live in.

OUR system does not do this same thing and let me tell you I really wish it did, because the amount of times I have to try and figure out what the postcode is for this persons order or what state they actually live in because they chose NSW but have a postcode that belongs in QLD, VIC, SA or otherwise.. and the amount of times I have to give up and actually call the customer? Too many times to count.

But the good news, Andrew, is this – as long as you’re not paying by credit card, you can probably pick any address you like. They might want to check your ID when you get there to click and collect – and that obviously could be a problem if you chose an address you don’t live at.

If you are paying by credit card, then the payment system might cross check the information you entered with the information your credit card company has on file for you, and if you’ve put in a wrong address the transaction might not go through.

Bear in mind none of these systems were built for click and collect at all – many retailers have had to add click and collect on the fly at the last minute, and thus it is kind of bolted onto their existing system which really was built to MAIL things to people.

And for mailing things to people, you want the address to be correct. This Auspost addressing system is pretty good at achieving that. There are some addresses not in their system and some tricksy ones here and there, but generally it works well.

Having said that, you could discover that the customer put in the wrong address, like the time a customer called me whose package had been delivered but not to them, and when I checked the address it had been sent to, they lived at number 10 but had put in number 100 as their address.

Package and customer were reunited when the customer went to number 100 and collected their package.

There’s no way I can check that information because I am NOT FREAKING PSYCHIC and I DO NOT KNOW where everyone lives in the world!

I have to rely on people putting in the right information and CHECKING IT IS RIGHT – there are many opportunities for them to do that, but do you think people actually do it? No. Nobody reads anything anymore, nobody checks anything.. and when it all goes wrong they would prefer to blame ME than themselves. ;)

Anyway having said all that, thanks again Andrew for keeping my mind occupied this week. It has been a doozy and today I am going to a meeting which I know isn’t going to go well because Dad will be told this diagnosis and I do not think he is going to take it very well. But it has to be done, so..

If you could keep a good thought – for me and my family, and that every customer will put in their right address and check it is right, at least for a little while as right now I don’t have the time or the patience to be sorting out everyones lack of skill in this area. ;)

Snoskred Lives, work

4WD Tales

snow road street winter
Photo by Sinitta Leunen on Pexels.com

The Other Half has been wanting a 4wd to use as his camping car for a while. At first I was very anti this idea. An extra car rego to pay, tyres, every year a pink slip to show it was roadworthy, it just seemed to me like a money pit we really did not need to throw our money into. There are better things to spend money on especially when camping with the boys was a once every 3-6 months thing.

And camping with ME is a NEVER thing. I do not camp, except at 5 star hotels. And those can be reached with a normal vehicle which we already own two of.

I told him he could have one providing he saved up for it out of his own monies, and he did that. He bought a secondhand old 4wd locally and has been spending his Sundays working on it for the last few months. He finally convinced me to go for a drive in this thing. I actually loved every minute of it. And here are some pics.

This is part of an area which was affected by the bushfires in 2019/2020. You can see the effect it has had on the trees. They all look very weird.

After we had explored here for a while, we went back home and switched cars and headed out to Jervis Bay for a 5k walk. By the time we got there the weather had changed a little but was perfect for our purpose.

It is still just as gorgeous out here as it ever was. And we’re making more of an effort to get out regularly now whether separately or together. We need some nature time. ;)

beach walk, country life

Snoskred Plans, Packages Laugh.

brown cardboard boxes on brown wooden floor
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Last week I told you about taking back the reins – also known as the f**k Gladys plan. Painting was due to begin Monday so on Sunday night I thought I better check where my packages of incoming stock were located.

Hilariously 4 of them were in Erskine Park, which meant they would turn up here within 48 hours. And of course I did not have my usual studio space to process them.

The plan was not to touch them until I got the studio back, but that plan never works out for me. Tuesday they arrived, Wednesday I began processing them, and then the 5th box showed up as well as a box of stock from Melbourne.

The studio has been painted however we were not 100% happy with the work. Normally I would ask the person doing the work to fix it, only that person managed to step in paint and walk it all over my pristine teal carpet which turned into two hours of scrubbing the carpet to fix it, so we decided it would be safer to do our own touchups. We did the walls yesterday morning and I have the skirting boards to do over this next week.

Once we completed our painting touchups, I turned my attention to the two remaining boxes which needed processing. Managed to finish them all that day.. so I’ve just got a lot of admin to do now adding them to the website. Over 100 new to us products.

For the first time in a long, long time, we took Sunday off together. We definitely need to do that more often. I’ll share some more pics of that in our next post but for now this is a waratah we found in our travels. :)

Uncategorized, work

Taking Back The Reins

silhouette photo of person riding on horse under twilight sky
Photo by Arvind shakya on Pexels.com

When we did the business tax in June, my accountant had said to me – well you did carpet in the studio, you did a new laptop and phone in 20/21 – I want you to start thinking about what you want to do in 21/22.

I said I already know – I would like to get the studio painted. But to do that I would need to close the studio and take everything out of the room. Maybe I could shut down over Christmas? But would it cost more to get a painter then? Would there even be anyone who would be willing to do it?

It has now been 4 weeks since we were locked down for 7 days, and there are no signs we will be let out anytime soon. Our area, the Shoalhaven LGA, was doing well. Then we got a couple of cases right before regional NSW was due to be let out of lockdown on the 10th of September.

Personal wise, we actually do extremely well during lockdowns. Home is our happy place and where we like to be. We’ve got everything we need here and whatever we don’t have we can easily get.

Business wise, we had switched to click and collect or post only before we went into the lockdown. We had planned to reopen the studio to workshops and customers on the 14th of September. I particularly miss my Thursday morning ladies. We laugh so much during those sessions!

Even if we had been let out of lockdown, snap lockdowns could happen at any time a regional area gets a case. That makes planning things incredibly hard, especially when you have to organise catering, milk for coffees, tidying up the room ready for people to come in, etc.

So this latest addition to lockdown was a bit of a kick to my mental health. On thinking about it, what was really bothering me the most was feeling like I had no control over the situation. I need to take back the reins.

Then we were told that businesses would be fined for serving people who are not vaccinated. How they plan to implement this, I have NO clue. Why I get to become the vaccination police I do not know. I don’t know how it is going to work. I actually don’t really want to know, either.

I’ve decided we are staying click and collect until the end of October regardless of what happens. That way I am not subject to the whims of our Government Overlords. If NSW overall does come out of lockdown mid-October there will be a couple of weeks for me to see what happens with the new system(s) in place, and decide whether or not I as a business owner even want to open myself up to dealing with it.

If I decide I do not want to deal with it, we will stay click and collect until the end of the year and then reassess the situation. This is my business, and I am in charge of what happens here.

In the meantime, everything has been emptied out of the studio. One carpet tile around the border of the room has been removed. Preparation for painting begins 9am tomorrow. I absolutely am not doing that myself. :) One of the Thursday ladies has a husband who paints. Colours have been chosen but I will keep that a surprise for a later post.

Hope you are all well! :)

COVID-19 2020, work

With One Click

In this room on my personal computer, I am always just one click away from being able to log into Facebook. I never ever have done it on this computer, and I never, ever will.

This room is my private sanctuary away from work. As much as I hate it, my personal Facebook has become completely wrapped together with work. There is no way to separate the two from each other.

Thus the only place I will log into Facebook is on the work computer. And when I am on the work computer, I do not have time to be scrolling through my newsfeed looking for updates from friends and family, as few and far between as they would be.

If I get up from this chair now and go into the other room to look at my Facebook, what will I see?

I will see a lot of posts from local businesses. I will see a lot of posts involving Hawaii. I will see posts from zoos. I will see photos of landscapes and animals and flowers. I will sometimes see a post from family or friends.

BUT..

If family or friends post something I don’t like, I will snooze them for 30 days. If when they are un-snoozed they post another thing I don’t like.. I will click “the button” to stop seeing posts from them in future.

I won’t see any conspiracy theories because every person/business I know who has ever posted one, I have clicked “the button” to stop seeing posts from them.

I won’t see any political posts because every person/business I know who has ever posted one, I have clicked “the button” to stop seeing posts from them.

My Question Is –

Why haven’t Facebook come up with a way to separate out business from personal? Probably because they don’t care or they don’t see how much of a problem it can be.

Until they fix this, I’ve had to take what I consider to be pretty extreme measures – separate laptops, separate phones, without Facebook on any of the personal devices – to separate work from personal.

internet, work

From Bad To Worse

It began with one limo driver who transported some flight crew to their hotel in mid June. He was not vaccinated nor was he required to wear a mask. This is an older article that details some of the happenings after that.

Should we even talk about the failings of our federal government to organise some facilities for flight crew to quarantine and safe ways for them to get to and from those facilities, not to mention travellers coming into our country?

Should we then talk about the failings of our state governments to say no, we will not allow people in unless you build these purpose built facilities? Or say if you won’t build them we will?

Should we talk about the failings of a prime minister whose one job was to secure enough vaccinations for the country who epically failed at that one job?

No, we will not talk about those things, as angry as we might be about them. We will just talk about what is happening here right now.

I live in the Shoalhaven local government area. We presently have no cases in our area. We were locked down for 7 days on Saturday the 14th of August. The announcement came quietly via the ABC covid blog around 2:30pm on the Saturday and when it was officially announced at 3:45pm it was on Gladys’s twitter, FFS. Are we regionals not important enough for a proper press conference?

The first person I contacted at 2:30 was my nail lady – I had an appointment for the following Monday, and I wanted to see if she could fit me in before the lockdown began at 5pm. She could not, sadly.

The second thing I did was ring my parents to see if they needed anything which of course they did, so it was a very quick trip to the shops for me. Luckily I made it there before most people had even heard about this lockdown. I got in and got shopping – by the time I left there was a steady stream of people coming in and all the trolleys were gone.

In this house we are mostly prepared to go into lockdown at any moment. We didn’t really need much here. We’ve got enough toilet roll to last till 2022 and we keep stocked up on things like tissues and paper towel.

We have our local cafe who has been making all our lunches and some of our dinners for 64 weeks now since the first lockdown way back in 2020. Once a week they do a market day menu, we order on Sunday and collect on Thursday. It supports their business and I am not going to lie, there is no way I could do all the work I do without the work they do. I simply would not have the time to cook for us and run the business.

I work from home all the time and the other half normally does one day in the office but they switched back to completely from home once the latest outbreak began in June, so the only thing that tends to change for us with a lockdown is my business gets a lot more busy.

I banned the parents from taking the mail to the depot or going anywhere. They were to ask me if they needed anything – as I have had both my vaccinations. They had not had any vaccinations at all. Mother was very anti- Astra Zeneca and she wanted Pfizer. Understandably so, there was a lot of bad press about Astra Zeneca and a lot of mixed messaging. They have now had their first shot this past week.

Having rescheduled my nail appointment, of course the lockdown was extended for another 7 days.

I rescheduled a second time, in fact I should be having my nails done this afternoon. But of course the lockdown was then extended another two weeks. And we still have no cases here. We have not had one yet.

I feel terrible for all the businesses who are trying to get support from the government. A friend of mine is a hairdresser and it has taken the full two weeks of regional lockdown for her assistance package to be approved.

I feel even more terrible for the people who have been locked down endlessly in Sydney with no real end in sight yet. Their lockdown was extended to the end of September and we all know it will likely be even longer than that.

We’re ok here. However the anger and frustration I feel – we maybe all feel – towards the people in charge is growing. I can’t listen to another press conference because all I want to do is throw things at the TV. I can’t hear any more news right now. I’m just focusing in on the things I can control – my business and my work and making sure both our households have everything we need.

I think this tweet from Paul says it all.

We are the gold stranded.

I hope you are all doing great! :) Whether you are stranded or not.

COVID-19 2020

Fully Vaxxed

Got the second Pfizer shot yesterday. Definitely feeling not the best today but I had planned ahead in case that happened. Can confirm I have a very sore arm. The Other Half had his first Pfizer last weekend.

Hope you are all well! :)

COVID-19 2020