It’s my turn

Tony and I moved in with Mum in 1998 when she got very sick. We were live-in carers for 14 years, until she moved to the rest home 6 months before she died. It was incredibly hard work some of the time, but a huge privilege few daughters get these days.

During that time I also personal care PoA for my aunt, who had dementia and needed a rest home apartment then secure unit, and finally hospital level care. Again, a lot of work. But Aunt J and I were close, and I was glad to look after her.

Within a year of Mum dying Tony had to retire due to ill health. By the time he retired he’d already had two or three surgeries. For the last year or two he’s been less and less able; the last 6 or 8 months have been pretty awful.

I’ve worked through all those years, and done my art. But suddenly I have, maybe not more time, but different time. My days are structured differently because I’m not juggling work, art and caregiving. Now it’s work, art and visiting Tony. By 7.30 at the latest I’ve seen Tony, had dinner, and the evening is mine.

At the moment I’m going to bed early quite often. It’s cold, but I’m also resting and recuperating – my own emergency surgery is less than 3 months ago.

I’ve spent most of the last 23 years listening for movement in the night, ready to get up and help Mum, then Tony. Since late last year I’ve been used to sleeping in 2 or 3 hour stretches, often only 6 hours a night. I’m learning to sleep through the night, although at the moment I’m often awake at 5 because I’m not used to so much uninterrupted sleep.

My work and art are important to me, but they’re not ME. It’s time for me to concentrate a bit more on me – on looking after myself, and on figuring out what the coming years look like. I didn’t expect to be living alone at 56, with a husband in the rest home, but it is what it is. I’m determined to make the most of it, whatever that light look like. T

he photos below are all of me, but none of them are me … that’s still a work I’m progress…

Being prepared with lots of paintings!

The Taranaki Rhododendron Festival, and the Fringe Festival, are both coming up at the end of the month. The local Patchwork and Quilting group are holding a week long exhibition in the Hunter Shaw building in Patea in support of these garden extravaganzas. They have invited me to be the sole artist exhibiting amongst the textiles. Fantastic!

In early December I am due to start exhibiting again at the Albany Garden Centre in Auckland, just in time for their Christmas trade. And in early November I am contributing to a charity auction at the Gift of Art Gallery in Christchurch. You can visit their blog here. The NZ Art Guild is busy planning towards a major charity event to be held at the Bruce Mason Centre (Auckland) in February 2009, which I will be exhibiting at also. This is to raise funds for the Leukemia & Blood Foundation – a link to more detail is on the right hand side on the Guild’s website here.

On top of all that, I have booked an art showcase page on Etsy for November 2nd, which means my Etsy offerings will potentially be seen by up to 10,000 in one 24 hour period.

Why am I telling you all this? Because it explains why I am painting up a storm, painting like there is no tomorrow, like paint supplies are about to run out worldwide – and loving it LOL. My wall of 4×4 canvas is becoming less like a wall, and more like a wee room divider, day by day. It’s a good thing.

Economic recession? Doom and gloom? Financial ruin? Whatever! There are opportunities out there for those prepared to just keep on working, so that’s what l’m doing – and I would encourage others to do the same. We all create our own economic future every day; what have you done toward your future this weekend?