I started this post years ago, but then got stuck, thinking maybe I couldn’t or shouldn’t write about the people I work with, but tons of time has passed and I won’t be working for too much longer, and really one of the best things about the job is the fantastic people you meet, so bugger it, here is a little tribute and some tiny memories of some of the folk I worked with 1:1. I don’t think any of them are specifically recognisable – but I can picture them all and they are precious to me:
the woman who told me she used to be fearful of refugees, but her son encouraged her to watch ‘Go back to where you came from’ on SBS and she really related to the people who moved heaven and earth for well-being of their children, and so has changed her view
the man who is supporting someone he knows who has a drug addiction, in the most caring but honest way, not letting him talk bullshit, but not giving up on him either
the man who cries and cries when talking about his brother who has a mental illness and who takes him out and encourages him in all sorts of small ways
the woman who has gone back to live with her elderly (and sometimes very difficult) mother to support her staying at home
the woman who has changed her life altogether after getting out of a violent relationship – she’s gone from frightened and addled to being a real community dynamo
the man who coaches his son’s football team, and the one who organises the scout group, and who sorts out the soccer roster and keeps time at the hockey
the woman who spent almost all of the last weeks of her father’s life with him, caring for him and going with him on the journey towards death, in spite of feeling so ill she vomited when she saw a photograph of him (he looked so bad) prior to his return to SA from interstate
the woman who maintains her sense of humour and her feistiness in spite of terrible harassment by a former partner
the woman who spends hours and hours each day at the nursing home with her husband who has a severe form of dementia
the woman who has never really recovered from severe trauma in her early life and violence in a marriage, but who knits and knits for various community projects
the woman who was estranged from her family for years, but when she learnt that she was dying, she could recite her brother’s phone number from memory and when I rang him on her behalf, he was so happy to hear from her
the woman who used to end our sessions by saying goodbye and “don’t do anything I wouldn’t enjoy”!
the woman who keeps doing little kind deeds for people and writing notes of thanks to folk even though her health is terrible and she is lonely and in pain a lot of the time
the woman who can hardly walk but who made delicious pasty slice for me to take up to my dad one weekend
the man who tells me “your blood’s worth bottling” when I sort something out for him
the woman who has very bad health and two young kids, and is a survivor of really awful violence, but who is so funny and kind, and who has a go at things – tries out groups, takes the kids to community Christmas lunch, keeps going
the man who spent years in gaol, but who keeps connected to his family and shows me pics of his nieces and nephews very proudly
the woman who saved up to go overseas in spite of her chronic ill health and had a great old time on the cruise with her partner. The other woman who saved up from her pension and did the same with a friend
the woman who brings in a wonderful Christmas parcel each year for us to give to one of our clients who is having a particularly hard time. The parcel contains sheets, towels, quilt, quilt cover, towelling wrap, soaps, journal, encouraging card etc etc. It is often the only gift the recipient has had for years. I gave it to one woman, and by chance it contained king sized sheets. She had (it turns out) a king sized bed, but only one pair of sheets which she’d have to wash and dry in a day every time they needed changing. They were threadbare she said… perfect timing.
I could go on and on, but suffice to say I have been a very fortunate woman to meet and know these wonderful people. It is my job to help them and I hope I have done so, but it’s not a one way street – they have truly made my life in so many ways.