Saturday, 14 July 2012

Journeying through places and time

I arrived back yesterday morning by train from a brief visit to see my older sister, whose birthday is today. She is permanently in hospital, suffering from dementia, and my other three sisters arranged a quick visit to celebrate her birthday. They drove from Melbourne the previous day. It is very sad to see my sister now. She can no longer feed herself, or stand or move unaided. Her mind and memory flicker on and off, but much more off than on. She looks old, and suddenly now resembles our brothers. Her hands restlessly pick at the various fibres, of sheets, or the knitted blanket she uses in the adjustable hospital style armchair. She remembers all the music she enjoys so much, but forgets the simplest things of everyday life, and details of family, who has been to see her, what they do, and so much of the external world.

We love each other, and share our family bonds and history, as well as passionate interest in art and music. But we have never been particularly close. She is the only person who has known me all my life. Our hearts all ache to see her like this, and I suppose we all fear the prospect of being stricken by this type of illness.

After I left the hospital I returned to the motel to wait until it was time to go to the station to catch the return train at 1 am. I read, drank some tea, watched TV intermittently, ate the food I had brought along (as everything closes in the town). Rain and a violent electrical storm began, and soon after all the power went off.  Most of the town was affected. I sat in the pitch black hotel room for close to three hours. I had not brought a torch with me: the only thing I had was the iPod, which I pressed now and then to check the time. I sat there wondering whether the taxi I'd asked to be booked to take me to the station would arrive. Fortunately it did - it was far too dark to risk walking.the station.

It was not a pleasant journey, too uncomfortable to do more than doze, and the very large young man in the window seat beside me spread into my seat space, and he snored! When eventually the lights were turned on we were told the train was running an hour late, and then, outside Campbelltown, we stopped. The train had to wait for a track to be cleared to allow it to get to Central Station. we arrived two hours late. Given the scheduled duration was six hours, another two hours is a significant delay. I caught the bus back home and waited out the day until such time had elapsed for normal sleeping habits to be resumed.

Some of the day was spent at the local library, which hosts a knitting/crochet group to make and complete squares for the ABC's hosting of the Wrap with Love. As the big day approaches, this little group will meet each week. I took a completed blanket along and have another ready to go, as well as one approaching completion. There are some very expert knitters in this group, and one has offered to teach me to knit. Hmmm. It is tempting but daunting.

The sun is shining, the weather is warm and pleasant, I have been to the market for the bread, vegetables and flower, the washing is on the line and will get dry, and I am about to go out for my Saturday strolls and to go to the city to pick up a CD of a glorious 40 part Mass by Striggio, which the ABC played a couple of weeks ago, and which apparently made people rush in and buy it forthwith. I had to order my copy, and it has now arrived. And I need another ball of wool. I ran out of the turquoise wool half way through the fourth square of the strip.


Gillie said...

I am sorry, how sad for you all and your sister. A long, uncomfortable journey too. Do try knitting, I find it soothing, just began again after a long absence and have fallen in love with bamboo needles!

Jan said...

That sounds a very uncomfortable train trip. I did that one at night and was near the door to the canteen. All night people went backwards and forwards to get coffee and lollies etc, banging the door both in and out.

The train back from Lismore shuts the canteen at night although the trip is another five hours longer.

I'm sorry to hear of your sister. My dad had Alzheimers and was in a nursing home in Blue Mountains for ten years. It's a cruel disease, as is any dementia. Harder on the family than the sufferer. The staff were wonderful and treated the patients with care and dignity, but Dad didn't know me for many years, although he knew my sons.