Old(er) people aren’t too old for study!
I’d been 49 when we moved to Australia in 2005. For me, that certainly wasn’t old! In my hometown in Hamilton, New Zealand, I had been to university but I never finished a Business Administration degree. My future back then had no purpose or plan. I couldn’t find companionship. I worked in very good jobs, but I was made redundant twice — one from WEL Energy and one from Telstra; certainly not my choice but I wouldn’t — couldn’t — move to Auckland for Telstra.
I spent much of my spare time writing, starting when I was very young but I didn’t keep many old papers. In Australia, I did a lot of research for things that wound me up: rent, homelessness, refugees, income, rape… I worked for TEDx at Southbank for their first event at the end of 2012 and on the evening of the celebration, I fell into tears which I couldn’t get out of. I had some wonderful supporters.
At the beginning of 2013, my ex left our marriage. In December of 2012, I started a One Billion Rising Brisbane Facebook page. After my desperation from separation on the 14th February 2013, I took 30 wonderful dancers on a flash mob in Queens Mall. In March the same year, I joined a Vagina Monologues play in Brisbane’s CBD. I also volunteered at La Boite theatre and a magazine at QUT, both in Kelvin Grove. I walked the Zonta walk for 6km at Newstead and the Walk 1 Mile walk at Ipswich, I got my face painted as a ghoul for the Zombie walk. By July 2013, I received my Graduate Diploma for Occupational Health & Safety, found out I had a brain aneurysm, told my employer, and two months later after seven years with ‘that employer,’ I was fired. Too much to deal with!
I had six months to fill before I was taken into hospital in April 2014 for my brain aneurysm surgery, and I found out that under anaesthesia I’d had a stroke with aphasia. Life can change when you never wanted it to.
After my surgery and stroke, I moved to the north side of Brisbane, Redcliffe: firstly to Woody Point, then onto Scarborough. I wanted to volunteer — I couldn’t really do anything other than that, so I sat a barista certificate and volunteered for a kite event as a coffee maker. Later I joined the Redcliffe art gallery as a volunteer and took on the art gallery newsletter. I had a book meeting for my first novel, which surprisingly took me out of my intrusive thoughts about my rape which I had lived with since I was 17. The book wasn’t an inspiration because I wasn’t completely back to ‘normal’ language with my aphasia, but I had some wonderful reviews about it.
Having a stroke and aphasia affects people, so how was I getting on? To me, it seemed I couldn’t get on with most of the crowd. I joined a gym in Redcliffe, but I had to leave it because I didn’t really feel ‘in,’ even though I had been with gyms in New Zealand and ever since I’d moved here. I joined a heart group that did a walk around inside the Kippa-Ring mall, but I quit that because no one talked to me. I joined a canoe group for breast cancer — which I have not had— and I was talked out. Eventually, 15 months after moving to Redcliffe, I felt I was paying too much rent for my tiny house, so I left and moved up to Noosa for a short stay, then all the way down to Bethania, to a retirement village.
Which, of course, was my bad decision. I couldn’t believe what they did to me and my beautiful dog! Homeless, yes, that was me — but only for one week, thankfully! I found a converted garage unit in Eagleby and moved there until 13 months later when I found out that it was illegal. So I had to move again. I started my recovery online course, Bachelor of Arts majoring in Journalism with Griffith and very much enjoyed the study.
It had been three and a half years since my stroke when a carer at Mylestones found me a recovery job in Darra, 10 hours a week, my first recovery work. I moved on to Bellbird Park to be closer to work, and my unit has been the best place I chose so I hope I won’t lose it! I joined a Redbank Plains gym at the start of the year, but my beautiful dog died (naturally) in March, my NZ daughter-in-law died in April, I went downhill into depression and had to walk away from the gym. The recovery job only lasted nine months when I was — again — made redundant. I don’t think I could continue to work for 10 hours a week, but I could not work any longer than that because even that short time made me very, very tired.
This year, 2021, I completed the Business Administration and I applied and was accepted for the Master of Creative Writing with Macquarie University. Am I planning too far ahead?
I have memories of most of my life, some very good and some very bad. So if I start thinking I am planning ‘too far ahead,’ I need to shake myself up: I hope I will continue with the study year by year and won’t let it get me down.
I’m 64 now. That’s an excellent age!