By Nat Power
Lara was living the good life in Sydney, she'd been there since she moved from a small town on the east coast at 17 years old. Plonking herself in the middle of the buzz, first in Surry Hills and then Bondi, to create her own path for life as an adult. She pursued multiple careers and dosed up on everything the universe could offer. Living in a beach shack apartment for over 14 years she created a stable base that was unique to her in its homeliness. Nourishing her soul with opportunities of travel, varying employment, study and human connection, she found foot holes to learn about love, loss, business, art and culture.
She had plans to study more, expand her business, vigorously network and use Sydney and her confidence to further her experience in business and life. Her plan to pursue massage therapy was gaining traction and just as she was building her reputation and hunger for success in the sporting industry ‘life’ took a dramatic and unwarranted turn.
One phone call changed everything in an instant. Lara barely packed a bag before leaving her heartland to head north 6 hours, in an emergency leap to save her mother from ‘the system’ and a debilitating existence of life after a stroke. She had her sister in tow.
Unexpectedly Lara, at 34, found herself in the town she was raised where life is slow, deliberate, boring and starving from diversity. She cares for the lady that cared for her and who served 20+ years caring for other people with disabilities and hardships, her wings clipped sharply and no recollection of her social capacity and interactions. She is now severely disabled, dependent, depressed, damaged and scared, she is only 59 years old.
Lara is her mother’s primary carer, a role she describes as ‘the many’ - the counselor, the cleaner, the chauffeur, the cook, the PA, the financial manager, the correspondent, the interpreter and the inspirer. She sees her new life as an opportunity to transform, she believes the cliche fits, ‘that the only constant in life is change.’ She’s discovered that her surroundings, community, finance and responsibility are fluid entities and as she develops the muscle that tunes her awareness, she has a full body openness to everything that ‘surrounds her, involves her and affects her.’
The juxtaposition between this life and her past is ever-widening. Colour, candour and crazy have been replaced with reflection, peace, space and family. She wrote, “life will always be ironic, interesting beyond belief and full of wild, unchartered territory, we [use] our scraps of experience and knowledge to navigate the present.” She fantasized about moving home one day and gaining some balance and perspective; the deserted beaches, nature and local offerings are definitely working as a medicinal pace breaker but 5 months in and Lara is still very much emotionally charged. The ‘off’ button isn’t in reach and the administration burden from government institutions is exhausting and frustrating, she is still paying rent in Bondi too, where her passions, joy, friends and work sit idly, paused to proceed who knows when?
With every visit to a hospital, specialist, company and chemist she finds new patience, tricks and loopholes, her timing is becoming finely tuned. She is less reactionary and more stoic.
Advocating on her mother’s behalf, life keeps sending her signals that this is the right thing for her, right now and more change is inevitable.
- Lara's story, about her Mum, as told to Nat Power
We believe in the power of stories to illuminate and educate. Through sharing our experiences of getting older and caring for those around us, we can help each other navigate the challenges we will all face at some stage in our lives.
If you would like to share your story, email us. We have a team of talented writers who would love to talk to you and help bring your story to life.