A Treasure Chest of Memories

The delightful Margaret is a HomeCare Client in our Brisbane North region who has had such a full and interesting life! She has had an association with BallyCara for quite some time as her late husband was part of the Hibernian Friendly Society 40 years ago when BallyCara was established.

She even recommended BallyCara for some of her patients when she was working as a Registered Nurse & Nurse Educator. So, when it came time for them to pick a HomeCare provider it was a no brainer to choose BallyCara, and as an extra benefit they were able to access wellness services through BallyCara as well.

Margaret has also joined BallyCara’s social support group, Invigorate, after she noticed that her mobility went down, and she felt like she was deteriorating in the months after her husband passed. She believes this has helped her so much as she is able to get out of the home and enjoy the social connection with others – it has made her feel more like herself again!

In Margaret’s career she taught colleagues and associates many things including how to communicate with patients effectively. She wrote whole programs on communicating with those who have Dementia. While teaching these communication skills she found that everybody is looking for one thing in life… and that is the word ‘yes’. This is one of her mottos since it is such a positive word, it means acceptance, especially when paired with a smile. Margaret has always lived by Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs and the last step is self-actualisation which can only be fulfilled once you have acceptance.

Each year Margaret would do something special for the graduating class; the below is a prose piece she wrote one year as she thought ‘how can I really impress the importance of communication and knowing someone’s background onto them?’ It is called “A Treasure Chest of Memories” as it is a reminder that if you know the background of someone you are then able to relate to them and provide better care.
It is from a carer’s perspective seeing someone with Dementia who may not be able to carry on a current-day conversation sitting alone, and so the carer sits down and takes the person through this piece asking the questions and helping the person visualise the answers, or imagining what their answers back may be.
Margaret’s words are so powerful you would think this person is real as you can imagine and put your own experiences and meaning onto the piece. This is because she thought about her experiences and her parents’ experiences, of things like the Great Depression, the World Wars, and other significant events that have happened in her lifetime.

My thoughts are trapped within this frail and mortal body.
My eyes, though dull and somewhat cloudy,

Mirror the feelings from my heart;
That my once free spirit is still there,
Only masked by my failing mind.

I feel from within, that you, dear friend,
Sense that this spirit of mine is young, is eager,
And is still as strong as in the days of my youth.
You look at me searchingly -
And I see a myriad of questions reflected in your eyes.
Oh, that it could be possible
To answer your enquiring, yet sweet and loving countenance
You so constantly portray to me each day.

I can only answer you in silence -
But I am feeling through your gentle touch;
Your soft yet knowing voice;
That our spirits will entwine,
And you will come to know
The answers from the very depth of my soul.
We each share,
And we each shall become better persons.

What is happening here and now?
Where is yesterday?
Not for me to care or worry, nor anguish over;
These are but riddles in my mind,
Heavily swathed in clouds of darkness -
But you understand this my friend,
And that is why you walk me through these
Cloudy billows until it is only misty.
We walk further, yet backwards in time -
And now, even that mist has laid it's veil to rest.
We are now under blue skies, with ne'er a cloud to be seen -
And you and I are now dancing down memory lane.

You are speaking to me of the great depression -
Ah yes, difficult days, but we managed, my darling and I,
Fred clothed and educated four wonderful children.

The war? - Yes, my dearest went to war;
He bravely and boldly fought for the freedom
You and I enjoy today.
Thanks be to our God, yours and mine -
He came home safely.

Dancing? - We loved to dance - I played the piano,
And he and the children sang - what joyous days -
I shall not forget, no, not ever!

My wedding day? - Oh, happy day - me in my magnolia satin gown
Trimmed with matching lace,

My gold locks framed in fragrant cream roses,
I simply floated down the aisle to meet with my handsome man.
He became my lover, my confidant, my best friend,

Then, now and forever.

Our house? - 'Twas a lovely home, simple and sweet.
The windows were decorated in chintz and lace,
Which we bought well at a local fair.
Little white daisies, which danced in the breeze,
Decorated the pathway and ushered would-be callers
Right up to the front door.
I remember the day my dearest carried me over the threshold -
He was such a romantic.
He was my Prince Charming; I was his Princess,
And our home - the Palace.

Fifty-two wonderful years of earthly life we shared,
Happy times and some sad times.
But I want to tell you my dear, that the major ingredient
In the recipe of our life together was called LAUGHTER -
And the name of the recipe?
It is known simply as LOVE.

Now along what path shall we journey tomorrow?
Maybe the fifties?
Yes, I really cherish those years.
The two youngest of our children were wedded early in this era,
And two of our six grandchildren were born during this decade.

I shall now finish this day with wonderous memories
Of years gone by, and I shall live for tomorrow.
I shall be watching out for you -
For you are a very special person
Who reaches out to me with your gentle touch
And envelops me in your genuine love.
Yes we are special to each other, you and I,
And on many more journeys we will travel.
Together, we will open a 'Treasure Chest of Memories',
And all will be well.

By Margaret S

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