Life is a complicated journey. Before I cared for my grandparents I didn’t understand or think about it the same way as I do now. I was happy skimming through life, hoping that things would come my way and that everything would just work out fine, bad things wouldn’t happen, everything would end up roses and sunshine. There were of course times before caring for them that I battled hard with depression and sometimes would just lie in bed all day, sulking in my own demons.
When I started to care for my grandparents I was diagnosed with depression and given medication to treat it. It made a big difference to me and balanced out the chemicals that sent me to dark places. But even if I was being treated, I believe that the real lessons of life came from looking after the two soles I had grown up with, my Nanna and Poppy. There were moments of great joy and times when I felt so sick with worry my whole body would shake. Even through those hard times it showed how solid the bond I had for my family, to treat the special moments as precious as they are, how wonderful my true friends are and how strong the human spirit can be.
I watched my Nanna go from a beautiful comical person who would often make two sided jokes to someone who was serious, angry and did not know her own home and some of her family. I watched her leave this earth and felt her spirit in the next. I watched my grandfather go from a strong man helping me learn to drive into someone fragile and ill. It makes me sad that he has to be in a nursing home at the moment because I love him so dearly, and his mind is still very sharp, his body is just slowly letting him down, as age does to all.
Something that has been hard to watch as my grandfather gets older is how many friends and relatives he has lost in the last two years (even within the last month it has been a lot). Imagine watching the people who you are close to now dying, no longer being there to have a chat with, send an email to or call. It would be such a horrible thing to go through, especially when you felt ill yourself. Even though it is a morbid thought, it also makes you appreciate the people around you, or it does for me.
I know the time will eventually come when my Poppy will leave this world too. It is very scary because he has been such a huge part of my life, but I am so lucky to have known him, to have been their to help him when he needed my care and as a reminder that we have to appreciate the living energy around us. I am lucky to have a close relationship with my mum who is a constant rock, and is so understanding that we help each other in so many ways, sometimes just being in the same room is enough to sooth the unsaid.
There will be dark moments in the future and there will be vibrant tones of joy. I will grow and understand more, but I will carry my lessons of age with me, and approach life with a different understanding and appreciation.