In the middle of winter 2003 my sister called to say mum has had a stroke. I was at TAFE that year and one of my teachers had a stroke earlier in the year. He walked a bit strangely but apart from that he was, or seemed to me, fine. So I thought I was going to the hospital to have a laugh with mum and she’d go home in a few days…. all good. No. It was very different to that. The neurosurgeon told us she’d had a catastrophic stroke and the best we could do was to take her off life support and let her die! We all had to go home and think about it and come back the next day with our decision. The horror. Miraculously, during the night mum had some progress, the doctors looked more closely at her scans and the prognosis changed to there being some hope, but with a long and difficult, unknown recovery.
During mum’s recovery process I began working with Northside, then known as Northern Sydney Regional Community Forum. How lucky was I to land in a job where I was surrounded by the people who knew best and could guide me and my family through the maze of community services. My family and I didn’t know there were services that could help us. My dad had become and carer for my mum and really, we wouldn’t have even recognised that as an eligibility for service. We’d never even heard the term. We would have just said ‘dad looks after mum”. For years now dad and mum have had great services in place to help them through each day. I honestly don’t think our family could have done this on our own as we wouldn’t have known where to go or who to ask, or even if we could ask.