Tuesday, 29 December 2009
In the festive season
This Christmas we were alone. It was sad to be without any of my children, grandchildren, and brothers and sisters. Next year, I am resolved, it will not be like this. Dr P has no Christmas sentiments, but I do. The Christmases of my childhood and youth come to mind, and I recall the nativity of Jesus Christ, as well as the Christmas gifts, Father Christmas and the excitement and delight of the children, and the coming together of families and friends. I hope that the relentless and rampant commercialisation will not totally swamp and overcome the reasons that Christmas Day became a cause for celebration.
My older sister M, who has been ailing for some time with what appeared to be varying and confusing symptoms, has finally been diagnosed with a form of dementia. She is not old. While there is a certain relief that a diagnosis has been made, this is very bad news. Her illness seems to have reached the stage where it has started to gallop, and the rest of her life, for however long, will be difficult for her and all her family. Her family is upset and angry, blaming the doctors, as well as the sisters who tried to get better medical help for her. This is very understandable, but wrong, as it was not an easy or obvious diagnosis.
In many ways her life has not been easy. While her marriage is a happy one, the rural community in which she lived was not very open and welcoming, and there was a distrust for and scorn of city people. She had to overcome the tragic death of her fourth child. Then, to great joy, another son was born. The family had to fight dreadful bushfires several years ago, and suffer the awful drought which still continues.
I feel desperately sad. While we have never been very close, even as children, she is my sister, the oldest of the seven of us, and the only person left who has known me for my whole life. She was, I think, jealous of me, and naturally concerned to maintain her position as the eldest. As a child, I did not understand this: she was older, and better at everything than I was, and of course I admired her and looked up to her. While we share many interests, especially a love of music, our temperaments are very different. In recent years we have been closer, but have seen each other rarely.
And at home here, Dr P becomes more shaky, feeble and forgetful, and we wonder what lies ahead of us.
I want to be with my own kith and kin. I don't want to live the rest of my life apart from them. Blood ties are so strong, so important.
My youngest sister P will be here for a few days, and then probably my second daughter and children will follow. This will be treasured time for us all.