“Caregiving often calls us to lean into love we didn’t know possible.”
– Tia Walker
Having recently lost my father, I experienced first-hand the tireless work and dedication the doctors and nursing staff at Concord Repatriation Hospital Palliative Care Unit go through day in, day out, looking after their patients. Yes, they are shift workers who go home to their loved ones at the end of a shift and have hearts bigger than Ben-Hur doing what they do. Coming in and out of Dad’s room observing and checking up on him was so reassuring, but it was Mum, the full-time carer of Dad who never left his sight, not for a single moment. Married for 58 years and throughout his darkest days, she never left his side. Totally opposed to every suggestion of putting Dad in a nursing home, Mum stayed. She fed Dad, bathed Dad, tended to his every need and exhaustively talked to him in the hope he would get better. Her efforts were commendable, yet extremely exhausting. She made no time for herself. The Macedonian culture has a lot to play in this, but also their union of so many years together coupled with her tenacity to never give up – this is certainly where my drive comes from!
After Dad’s passing, Mum has been mentally and emotionally exhausted – I’m seeing her mood change on a daily basis as she comes to terms with what’s happened. It’s taken its toll on the entire family, but Mum, the carer, is drained and lost. Whilst it’s a pain I wish I could relieve her from physically, I knew that the next best thing I could do for her was to whisk her away to the Blue Mountains and provide her with the best healing medicine within the right environment that I possibly could. Resting, reconnecting with Mother Nature and allowing her soul to just BE. She didn’t know or realise that she needed this connection, but she does now. Grieving is dealt by us all in so many different ways and unless you’ve lost a loved one, it’s an unexplainable feeling and process you really have no control over. It will certainly be a slow process, it’s all just a matter of time and taking each day as it comes.
In honour of Dad, Mum and I have planted a Black Diamond Crepe Myrtle at Chatelaine. A statement tree if ever there was one. With its black leaves and pink/purple flowers, I know this tree will make an outstanding impact to the garden when it reaches maturity bound for the heavenly sky.
Grief can be an overwhelming emotion.
Over the years, I have felt privileged in being privy to countless memorial services, family retreats to commemorate important anniversaries of lost love ones and the private getaways intended to bring sanctuary to the broken hearted. It has never gotten easier, but it has forced me to ask myself what it is about the Blue Mountains that brings such healing and respite to those who so desperately need it.
I cannily conclude that immersion in nature does wonderful things for the heart. It may not heal it or even come close to easing immeasurable pain, but it seems to have a quiet way of putting everything into perspective. Perhaps it’s the soothing sounds of songbirds, the sway of the overarching trees, or maybe the monumental size of the landscape that brings about a sense of being part of something much bigger and more important. Whatever it is, escaping from the city and hiding away in nature seems to bring peace to the hearts of our visitors, if only for a little while.
Dedicated to my Dad, Metodija (Michael) Lazarevich 10.03.38 – 08.02.21. RIP Dad xx