The year that was… and the year ahead

Desember 31, 2009 in Sonder kategorie

2009 was a mixed bag. Very difficult, mostly, but also a year of getting to know myself and my strengths and weak points. Learning who I can count on, and who should rather exit from my life. Workwise a year of many a missed deadline as a result of looking after my dad, but amazingly enough, also a year of winning two coveted awards for my work (something I didn’t even foresee in my wildest dreams.)

A year of frustration, a lot of tears, a year of not being able to just decide impulsively to go out for the night/weekend, as there was always Dad to consider. Having to cancel lots of plans because nursing aides simply don’t pitch for a shift. A year of having to hear from all corners how I am doing a good thing looking after dad. But why then, did I want to ask them, is it so damn frustrating and lonely? And difficult and an ungrateful affair?

January saw my youngest go off to Grade 1. And meeting somebody that stirred my heart quite a bit. And finally coming to terms that looking after Oupa is not easy, but that I have to do it for a while as I simply didn’t have the heart to put him into an old age home.

At the end of March the man in my life took me with him on an overseas trip. My first! (Only been to a few African countries before.) Saw lovely places, and on my way back, spent three days alone in London. Such exitement: having to make my way from Heathrow to where I stayed by underground, then getting ALL my luggage from the tube station to where I stayed (thought I was having a heart attack at some point, then realised it’s only the straps of my HEAVY backpack cutting into my chest). Walked around London with my camera, clicking away at Harrods, the ice cream coloured houses of Nottingham Hill, Portobello Road, Trafalgar Square, St. James Park in full bloom, the Horse Guard, Buckingham Palace… An incredible, incredible three weeks. (But the longest I have EVER been away from my kids, so imagine coming home!)

Turned 40 in May. A milestone. Discovers the day before that my beloved is still trawling the internet for somebody better. Patch things up, but can’t shake the nagging feeling of not trusting him completely. Dad getting more and more demented. I might as well have turned 14 – he doesn’t give a rat’s ass.


August was an eye opener. End of relationship, and finally realising that looking after Dad is getting too much. Physically (having to look after him during nights of no-show nursing aides) and emotionally (having to deal with his dementia, moodiness, and sometimes downright rudeness). Yet, to outsiders he still seems to be the kind man they always knew, and I often have to hear how I can be lucky that he is not a difficult or demanding man. Hmpph!

September: finally deciding to start proceedings for Dad to go into a frail cure nursing home. It breaks my heart, but I have no choice. My work is suffering under the stress, my kids are constantly drawing the short stick when it comes to my time and patience, and it seems that Dad’s mind is going downhill very fast. I take the kids to Aardklop, and we all come back refreshed and recharged. Dad not feeling to well. A cold, it seems. Just like after the overseas trip, all my joy and new found energy vanishes the first time Dad’s carer doesn’t pitch… I feel trapped in my lonely existence of working, caring for Dad and raising two children on my own. The social worker at the old age home finally gives me a date for an interview – 9 November.

October 23d: My mom, who I still miss every day of my life, would have turned 75 today. I am glad that she died a year ago and doesn’t see dad’s failing health and dementia. I’m also glad the she was spared looking after him, as I can barely cope (with help). How on earth would she have managed on her own? I’m also glad that she doesn’t have to make the decision to put him into a frail care facility, as she would never have been able to make that decision. She would have soldiered on bravely, and we wouldn’t have know how extremely difficult it is. Every single time she cried to me over the phone, complaining about Dad’s rudeness or inexplicable behaviour, I thought she was exagerating. That it couldn’t be THAT difficult, as Dad has always been a kind, softspoken man with good manners. We laughed at the stories of his dementia, and I even remember once shitting her out for being so extremely short-tempered with my lovely old dad…

(Sorry, mom, I honestly didn’t know what you were going through. Knowing what I do now, I wish it could have been different for you. And I thank God that He took you away from us on that dusty road outside of Windhoek when He did. But I still miss you, and I dream about you almost every night of my life, and I still have so many things to tell you. Luc is getting spectacles today, Zoe is turning into a chef, they both did incredibly well in school this year… My ex is still an arsehole – another thing I should have listened to you about…)

Even though Dad doesn’t know it’s Mom’s birthday, he still (inexplicably) picks today to become really sick. He complains for the first time EVER about pain. Twelve hours later there isn’t a pain free spot on his body. The hospice sister visits, and tells me the prostate cancer is in the bones.

October 31st, 06h00: Johan Daniel Herselman dies. It’s all over. I have no parents anymore. 

Since then: Trying to get my life back. Workwise I finally have enough time for everything I need to do – first time in 18 months that I make deadlines. Lots of upheaval with siblings. Funny how things fall apart when there isn’t a parent holding things together anymore. It finally hit me that one is ultimately alone in this world, and that you can only count on yourself, and God. And yes, I did a good thing looking after Dad and saving him from a lonely time in an old age home after all the trauma of losing mom. But knowing what I know now, I won’t EVER do it again. I must have been mad to think I can be a single mom and sole breadwinner AND caregiver to a 82-year old man. Absolute, utter and undeniable madness!! 

And 2010?

I need to spend more time with God.

I must sort out all aspects of my life: admin, work, house, finances.

I need to travel lighter, in terms of junk clotting up my house, admin that is behind, cupboards that need to be sorted out. Things that I haven’t used in years, must go.

I must read all the unread books on my shelves.

I must write the two books I was commissioned to write, and I must start on my novel. Writing is the only constant joy in my life, apart from my kids, pets and good friends.

I also need to travel lighter in terms of emotions. I must cut out those people and things stealing my joy.  The ex must start paying the maintenance that the court has ordered three years ago, even if it means the court has to force him to do so. And he must rather stay out of my children’s lives. (He STILL hasn’t phoned them for Christmas!)

So, blogland, I hope 2010 brings lots of joy, love, laughter and peace, and that you will have enough daily bread and sometimes even some butter and honey! (And a lamb chop and a bottle of good wine and maybe even chocolate!)

A very happy 2010 to all of you!

12 antwoorde op The year that was… and the year ahead

  1. hutton het gesê op Desember 31, 2009


  2. blanket het gesê op Desember 31, 2009

    i understand completely how you felt with your dad. My elderly dad (85) lives with me. Unfortunately I do not have the funds to have someone come and help him. It worries me endlessly what will happen when the time comes for him to need frail care.

    Wishing you a blessed 2010, and hope all your dreams and wishes come true

  3. Sho, 2009 certainly wasn’t boring. Best wishes to you for 2010.

  4. Well T – that is the benefit of perspective – I thought I had a tough year and then I read your story. What I admired most was the positive attitude you have after such a tough year. Good one you and well done for surviving 2009. Happy New Year, Good Luck and may all your hopes and dreams be fulfilled in 2010.

  5. Thanks PP! If it doesn’t kill us, it makes us strong. Or fat…
    Wishing you happiness and good deals for 2010 so that we can set sail for that island!!

  6. Thanks Simon, same to you!

  7. Thanks Maddie! Love, good things and joy for you in 2010! (And may your daughter not stop cooking and baking when you least expect it!)

  8. Thanks Blanket! Strongs with your dad. It’s never easy, and only people with experience of looking after a parent or frail person, will truly understand what you are going through. And stuff all the others!

  9. Thanks Hutton, for all your visits! Have a brilliant 2010!

  10. Thanks OC! Same to you!

  11. Blessing for 2010. I wanna read those books when you done writting them -ok?

  12. May ALL your dreams come true in 2010!

    Special thanks for the Lamb Chop, Wine and Chocolate!

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