Rising from the ashesBY BEE
We had to do everything from when we were very young, maybe from seven, eight years old. We had to help mum do all the housework and cook meals.
I loved school. I was always in the top 10 in my school for many years. I wanted to go to university. I wanted to be a professor or a lecturer. I loved to learn, and I always wanted to get a degree. But we girls had to be married and serve our husbands. I loved every bit of schooling. I was very active in sports, I was a prefect, class monitor … everything!
We led a very, very sheltered and controlled life. There was a lot of favouritism. I know mum loved all of us, but she will always favour the sons. And so did my dad. The brothers are always judge and jury over the sisters, even though I’m older than them. It was very much, “you can’t do this, can’t do that.” I always put myself down a lot.
He was a good man to start with. He was the managing director of this multinational company but he lost his job when the company was bought out. He was given the boot.
That’s when things went downhill, and he started to drink. We were in trouble because there was no income. We were in a lot of strife. I was so stressed, day and night, that I ended up with cancer. That was 15 years ago. We lost our home.
I like to read a lot. I like to know about news and all those things about nursing homes. These homes really need an overhaul. A lot of nursing home owners are ripping off the old people and these old people are the ones who need real care. They don’t have compassion. They don’t understand old people’s pain. The old people need understanding, compassion and kindness. And this assault thing is a hundred percent there.
This is why I don’t want a male to come and handle my personal washing. No matter what age you are, I want a female. I don’t like male nurses. I would not want a male to touch me unless he’s a doctor. I do not want male staff to come in and shower me. No way. When they see a woman who is vulnerable, who cannot protect herself, it’s an easy take for them.
You know how when you are homeless, you feel so lonely. I was living in my car. I’m 67 and very fortunate because I am now in social housing. It’s all women here so I feel safe. I am very comfortable; I feel I can live a normal life being myself without any fear of being attacked. It’s peace of mind. It’s healing, it’s being able to progress.
When you close the door behind you, it is your safe space. It is somewhere you can have your own things. I’m alone here – this is my space; this is my comfort zone.
We have sacrificed our whole life to love and care for young ones. When it’s our time to be nurtured and loved and cared for, it’s the humane thing to do to give us some dignity.
The lotus flower is symbolic of me. I chose it because it is so beautiful above the water but the root of it is so messy and so ugly. It’s like life, you know you can blossom from difficulties and rise from the ashes.
You might also be interested in:
Are you #ReadyToListen?
The #ReadyToListen project has developed a suite of resources for aged care providers as well as aged care workers.