Trials & Tribulations

January and February have been a bit of a blur!  After returning from the beach mission in Denmark I had a few days on my own before dropping Kat at the airport on Monday the 8th to fly back to QLD.  She was looking forward to having the next swing off to establish herself in her new home with Jen in Eumundi.  On my return from the airport I decided to call in to my favourite store, Bunnings.  I had been trying to buy a particular species of mango since October last year without much luck.  That day it was in stock.  When I arrived home with my R2E2 mango sapling I wandered around the garden wondering where on earth I would put it.  I was planning to put it with the mandarin and lime trees which I was espaliering on the back fence but after reading that it would be 7-8 meters tall (20-30 mt in the tropics) I decided the spot was far too small.  Ok, now where?  I thought under the trees on the top of the wall, but this was too sheltered from the sun and a bit cramped for such a tall tree.  Hmmmm!

I eventually settled on a spot in the corner of my paved courtyard.  This would give lots of lovely shade once the tree grew for all my shade loving plants and beside the retaining wall would mean I could climb on the wall to pick the fruit.  God willing it would thrive in this spot.  I then had to remove 18 pavers.  This wasn’t so easy as I didn’t want to remove the ones along the side of the wall, I just wanted to prise them out to make a small square. It took me ages to get the first out, I thought that would make it easier but they were still very difficult to dig out.  Eventually I had removed all, replacing the half bricks to complete the square.  I then dug out all the yellow sand which I presume was either builder’s sand or the original sand dunes the units were built on.  Nothing will grow in it.  I then replaced it with a mix of cow manure, coffee grinds I’d been saving for such a time as this, and soil from another garden bed.  Before planting my mango I returned to Bunnings to buy a bag of soil improver to fill in the hole.  While I was there I chatted to the horticulturist who alerted me to my mistake.  She said the cow manure would burn the roots.  Oops!  I bought 3 bags of soil improver, dug out all that I had put in and replaced it with a mix of more soil, soil improver and some left over coffee grinds.  I hope now I have a happy little mango tree!  Once it was watered in I gave it a day before cementing the sides so that the pavers don’t move.  Hammering in three stakes I secured the sapling against the prevailing westerly winds and prayed it would survive.  I then built a protective wall from the outdoor furniture, just in case, as Perth is a very windy place.  Once it was more established I removed this protection.  Although it won’t get any winter sun, I’m praying for its survival.  After planting I noticed the new growth on the top was brown-looking like it had died. I prayed, now that it was planted it would revive.  It didn’t take long before I noticed the dead top was splitting and fresh new growth was breaking through.  I now have lovely long lush green leaves.  Thank you Lord for answered prayer!  There are still a few more fruit trees I hope to plant but not till late autumn when I return from Sydney so they have all winter to become established.

I have also rescued and re-potted Mum’s orchids which I hope to return to her when flowering.  My friend Jan gave me some terracotta pots with succulents, which I added to my garden and where the dogs were getting through my hedge I have planted some prickly leafed bromeliads.  I hope this works!  I also planted my grape cutting given to me by the family I used to clean for.  Once the hole was dug, I first put my home made earthworm tower in, then left a little distance for the grape before filling in the hole with a bag of soil improver and compost.  I made two more worm towers, digging one in beside the mango and the other replacing the one I had made from a cardboard cylinder.  They are so easy to make and are a great way to dispose of kitchen scraps and fertilise the soil at the same time.

So much has happened in regards to caring for Mum, some good and some not so good.  One thing I found out accidently was that she was eligible for a companion card.  We were out with a friend at the movies when I overheard a woman who was caring for a down syndrome child.  She had free admission as the child had a companion card.  This card is given to someone who has a disability and is needing assistance in some way or another.  After inquiring I was informed that Mum’s care provider was able to request one of these cards as Mum has Alzheimer’s.  This will be a great help for her carers, including myself if we are needing to take Mum places such as the movies or swimming pool.

Scarborough Pool has recently opened so Mum and I went for a look around.  I inquired about cost for Mum and bought her 10 visits.  Mum thought this was a great idea and planned to come down with her carer, Belinda the following day.  Unfortunately, she had forgotten that by the morning and told her carer she didn’t want to go.  As it was a warm day, I asked if she wanted to go that afternoon, which she agreed to.  She had a lovely time with easy access via a ramp with rails into the main pool, which had several swimming lanes and one for walking, which she used.  Since then she has had a leg infection and has been unable to swim.  Although she did forget and went to the beach for a swim with her neighbour four days later, having reminded me all week that she couldn’t go swimming.

Just after Kat returned to QLD, Mum complained of a tooth ache.  We booked her into the government clinic and waited for her appointment.  Too long!  She had forgotten we made the appointment and because her tooth still bothered her, I called to see if there was a sooner appointment and was told if she came up early she could join the emergency queue to see the dentist that morning.  So up we went.  I dropped her off to wait in the queue and went off to do some things, thinking it would take at least an hour or two.  It wasn’t long before I received a call to say Mum was ready to be picked up.  Wow that was quick!  That night Mum tells me she had forgotten to tell them what was wrong and the tooth still bothered her.  I rang to see what was done and kept the original appointment just in case.  After a few days she said all was ok; it’s all been forgotten since.

After sleeping so well at camp, I decided to continue taking something to help me sleep just to catch up as I often felt teary, lethargic and exhausted. Usually when my mood is low, it’s due to sleep deprivation; this time after some nights of good sleep, I realised it was much more.  A quick visit to the doctor, where I asked for and was given some antidepressants.  I’m sure I have been suffering for months, in fact probably from before I moved out of Mum’s place in September 2016.  Thank God for medication!

No wonder I was feeling so overwhelmed before Christmas!  With all the stress that comes from that time of the year plus Mum’s legal and financial affairs to sort out, I had a lot going on.  At the end of January, I organised a real estate agent to assess the value of Mum’s home, sorted out some of Mum’s affairs and visited the Centrelink Financial Aid to talk through some options for Mum.  Jen and Kat also asked their accountant to take a look at Mum’s finances as we need not only to bring Centrelink up to date but also put Mum on the waiting list for residential care.

Then in February we had the Guardian and Administration Tribunal to work towards.  Jen, Kat and I had talked about things and thought it would be wise if we asked someone outside of the family to be the Power of Attorney.  This would, God willing, avoid too much tension between sisters.  The tribunal contacted me after a call from Tricia, who had asked for the hearing date to be changed.  Although I wanted to get things over and done with, I agree to just to keep the peace.   Two nights before the event, I noticed Trisha had visited Mum who had written in her diary the date and time of the SAT tribunal.  I was really concerned as Mum didn’t need to attend and seeing it written in her diary I thought Trisha might bring her along.  Mum doesn’t need the stress!  I rang Jen who reassured me either way it would be ok.  I prayed and committed it to the Lord and received His peace.

The night before we attended Jen sent an email to everyone involved outlining what was to be discussed, including the POA, which was with Trisha and Kat was now going to Jo, a family friend.

That night I asked friends to pray for the tribunal that it would go to God’s plan and that His will be done for Mum’s good.  I felt His reassurance from the Bible verse Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the thoughts I have towards you, said the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expectant end.  Then shall you call upon me, and you shall go and pray to me, and I will hear you.  And you shall seek me, and find me, when you shall search for me with all your heart.”  While looking up this verse in my Bible I was also drawn to read Jeremiah 15: 20 & 21 “And I will make you unto this people a fenced brazen wall: and they shall fight against you, but they shall not prevail against you: for I am with you, says the Lord.  And I will deliver you out of the hand of the wicked, and I will redeem you out of the hand of the terrible”.  As a Christian I realise “our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.” Ephesians 6:12  I then prayed for the Lord to fight on our behalf against those forces that might come against us.  Another verse I received was again from Jeremiah, this time chapter 17 verses 7 & 8 “Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD and whose trust is the LORD.  For he will be like a tree planted by the water, that extends its roots by a stream. And will not fear when the heat comes; but her leaves will be green, and she will not be anxious in a year of drought nor cease to yield fruit.”  What amazing encouragement!  My heart was at peace, I knew the Lord’s will would be done.

I took public transport into the city, arriving early so I could have a coffee, relax and take my time to find the place.  Jo joined me and together we waited on the floor, ready to be called.  We expected Trisha to join us but there was no sign of her.  We were ushered into the court room, Jen and Kat were connected through phone-link.  Still no Trisha.  Jen sent her an SMS asking if she was on her way.  No reply.  The clerk outlined the procedures, explaining we would not be able to wait for Trisha, but she could come in late. The judge entered and we stood.  He then introduced himself and explained he had received an email from Trisha to say she was not coming.  Her email said that if I needed a support person it was better that she didn’t come; she ended the email by saying I was very controlling.  We were all shocked!  I’m sure the judge understood this kind of thing happens with family matters, but it did confirm our concern for her lack of communication, as none of us knew she wasn’t coming.

The procedures all went well, with questions from everyone being answered by the judge.  To our surprise the original POA had never been legal, as Mum had not answered one of the questions.  Yet both the bank and Centrelink had accepted this document.  We were also surprised as the old guardianship HAD been legal but Mum’s GP had told us it was not and when I had rang to inquire through what I thought was the legal channels of inquiry, I was told there was not documentation of the guardianship ever being lodged!  How strange!  Thank God the new papers are now all updated and confirmed by the tribunal.

Within a week we all received an email with the outcome of the tribunal, a legal document that we could use. I then whet to Mum’s bank to ask them if I could please have an email address to which I could send the document.  I was told that Westpac only accepted the original copy.  I called the SAT office and was told the electronic copy is the only copy I needed and that if the bank needed a copy or more information, she would educate them.  I had also left a phone message before heading to the bank for a call back.  I received the call that evening and was once again informed that an electronic version was not accepted by the bank.  Well, I said, I think you need to update your information from SAT office as they no longer give out anything other than an electronic version.  Oh boy! I hope we don’t get this kind of problem with the all the other institutions!

Mid-January I decided to take my friends advice and get some counselling through Carers Australia.  I’m not sure how much it helped, but at least I felt I could debrief with them.  It was an interesting journey and I’m sure it helped me to get things into the open.

I am also grateful to all my friends who have leant a sympathetic ear, prayed and stood by me during this difficult time.  Thank you.

Photos:  1. One of our glorious Perth sunsets       2. Mango tree planted       3. New leaves on mango tree       4. Mum swimming       5. Scarborough Beach Pool      6. Choosing colours for the edge of my mosaic work     7. Earth worm tower     8. Me

Prayer & Praise Points:
Praise the Lord for His strength, wisdom and words of encouragement.  “The LORD is my rock, my fortress, my deliverer, my God, my stronghold in whom I take refuge, my shield, the glory of my salvation, and my high tower.” Ps 18:2

Praise Him for fighting my battles for me and for the great results at the tribunal.   I’m believing now things will begin to fall into place for a placement for Mum at Mosman Park residential centre and at the right time she will be accepted.

Please continue to pray for Mum to accept that she will need to move out of her home when the time comes.  Pray that she will accept the extra care she needs and that she will also accept that someone is needed to accompany her to the doctor as her memory deteriorates.

Praise Him for my two younger sisters who have been a great support and encouragement to me.

I appreciate your ongoing prayers for the business, Senior’s Benefits and Rewards.  We are still looking for someone to assist us with marketing ideas.

Thank you once again to all my supportive friends and prayer partners, knowing you stand with me in prayer is a real encouragement and strength.