The people you meet (at work)

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Community people leading from the front at one of the walks we have done to challenge domestic violence

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.

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Wonderful community members with poster they made at a workshop about community and creativity

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6 Responses to The people you meet (at work)

  1. Mandy Laidlaw says:

    Dear, dear Elizabeth. Your beautiful spirit has touched and helped so many, many people.
    I often call you ‘Princess Elizabeth ‘ but not in the fairy tale sense, in the sense that you are a beautiful giving soul. Its your job, yes, but it’s your unconditionally, unbiased, non judgemental, soul that touches us all. We are lucky you chose your career as it has made a huge impact and difference to my life and many,many others.
    Tons of love to you and your beautiful heart.
    ❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤🤪

    • And tons of love to you right back!! You are a very special person to me too Mandy – your choices in how you have lived your life these past many years an inspiration, and your loving, caring heart so clear to see. Thank you for being part of my life my dear. xxxxxx

  2. Kathy L says:

    Truly wonderful that people endure and that there are still people like you to notice humour and kindness and vitality and not see people as a problem or statistic a nice to be ticked on the computer system.

  3. nickypage says:

    And your appreciation for all these people is one of the reasons we love you, and see how you choose to notice and be nourished by your connections.

  4. How good that you are in the world!

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