I was desperately trying to get pregnant while working as a buyer in the fashion industry. It was a mess, I knew I needed to focus on one or the other; overseas travel, stressful job and IVF is a combination deemed for failure. Finally, with a few big changes, things started to feel a bit different, physically and mentally, I was pregnant and headed straight for full term.
That same year my Mum’s mental health, mostly memory, started to decline significantly. She was still working part time in retail, she had an incredibly supportive team that propped her up and turned a blind eye to the flailing skill set, knowing she needed this – not the money necessarily, everything else that goes with employment that gives our life meaning.
Chloe was born in August 2016, we were all stoked, she is a gem, a disco ball of reflective joy. Our hard work and emotional turmoil had produced exactly the result we wished. As Chloe’s senses developed along with her physical abilities, my Mum was momentarily waning from lucid to foggy.
Following some difficult conversations, my Mum agreed to start a diagnostic journey. Six months ago we heard the official Alzheimer’s prognosis although we knew before that dementia was stealing her short-term memory. She knew too, that’s really the ultimate frustration and deeply saddening aspect of this disease.
Now I care for, what feels like, 2 children. I’m trying to adopt my Mum’s modus operandi of selflessness to keep things running smoothly. I feel lucky to have a Mum that has always been an exceptional force of love and humour. She came to Australia from country Denmark when she was 9 with just a doll and single-handedly cared for my sister and I, her elderly live-in mother and anyone else needing help, without complaint, she made it look effortless.
Now with my own family, I know the opposite is true.
Seeing the world through Mum’s eyes, I can see how happy Chloe makes her and she doesn’t know that Mum is singing the wrong words to ‘Twinkle Twinkle.’ Chloe loves her unconditionally which is a great lesson in innocence, mindfulness and connection. I’m human though and the tone in my voice sometimes highlights the annoyance at repetitive questions but, if the alternative is an entirely absent grandmother, my self-pity and collective frustration can manage the same daily script for the sake of generational ties and new memories.
- Julie's story about her Mum, Marianne, as told to Nat Power
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