I recently visited my Nan in the nursing home she moved into a few months ago. Nan is on level one, which is for residents with dementia. When I walk down the corridors of the home I cannot but help reflect on the lives lived of the residents as I pass their doors, reading each name as I walked by, seeing their feet poke out from their adjacent recliners, lights flickering from the blaring televisions. I wonder about each resident’s life lived and what led them to be in a nursing home? I wonder if they have loved ones? I wonder if they have friends and family who visit them? I wonder how much of them is still in the house so to speak? I wonder if they feel ready to pass over? I wonder if and why they were hanging on for any reason? Do they feel they have more to say? More to express? Connections still to be made? Hurts and things to let go of and deal with? Have they given up on themselves and life? At what point and why?
When I walk down the corridors of level one to visit Nan, the sadness, loneliness and a lack of life in the building is tangible. When I experienced this walking to Nan’s room on my first visit, my eyes welled up and I almost burst into tears. I had a moment of it feeling quite overwhelming, being in a home with so many elderly people who looked so sad, unwell and checked out. It was in that moment I stopped and gathered myself. I connected to the deep love I hold for my Nan, rather than let the sadness take over. I recognised I had the choice to have the visit be an emotional exercise, to let myself take on the emotions of the residents, to sympathise with what I was seeing. Or I could take it as an opportunity to really connect with my Nan, the staff and those whom I passed walking the corridors with their strollers.
I absolutely love my Nan. I have always had a very close relationship with her. Yet I actually didn’t think she would ever get dementia, so it was strange to visit her in an aged care home. Although in saying this I know Nan’s will and purpose to live has not been strong for many years now. She is currently 89 and retired in her 40’s. As a result Nan has spent many years watching day time television and concerning herself with the affairs of others and the world in all that she sees on television and reads in the paper daily. Nan has always worried about the state of our world, where humanity is at, how people behave, always commenting and questioning what and why people choose to do what they do. With this has always come a lot of worry, stress and a gradual withdrawal from continuing her own activity in the community.
“Ah mumma mia the world is going crazy.” “What is wrong with people darling.?” “People are going silly.”
Nan talks about the changes she has observed over time including the increase in violence, sickness and incidences since she was younger. I recognise where her stresses come from as she see’s the state of our world intensifying each day. In this I am able to bring understanding to Nan’s emotions, as my Nan holds a beautiful innocence in many ways. You see my Nan loves children. She loves ‘little ones’. She adores babies. In knowing this about my Nan, who so clearly see’s the essence of every child, their absolute preciousness, love, innocence and purity we are all equally come from. Nan also sees that as people grow up they loose their connection to their essence and as a result choose behaviours which make the world the place it is today, where we still have war, murders, divorce, abuse, famine, corruption and so many things that simply don’t make sense to the harmony we are born being…
As I am writing this I am actually appreciating my Nan more than ever. I am appreciating that although she may not have been raised in a way that supported her to to deeply cherish, adore, honour, love, nurture and care for herself. All the qualities of care she knows is so essential with little children, I can see that she has always held a very strong connection to what is true, to what is love and to all that it takes to keep life simple and harmonious.
This is why I am writing this post. Because although my Nan has dementia she is still able to express how she feels when she is connected. Our conversation last night has inspired me to share some of the pearls of wisdom Nan shares with me in these connected moments.
To start this off… It’s kind of funny… Because you see… I’m gay. No big deal right. :). I actually never think about it. Bit weird to even write. I might be labeled gay, but my name is Emilia. :). Yet in saying this a while back I did care. Like I really did. I was obsessively fearful about coming out, about being ‘gaaaay’ to the point of keeping a relationship from the ages of 16-24 a total secret, only to tell a few friends in the last years of our relationship. Crazy I know. But at the same time many many people live like this, keeping their sexual preference hidden for a lifetime, or a longtime at least.
Now along with all the hiding, anxiety, fear, emotion and many, many lies, tears and stories told… This long lived lie I held onto for dear life included how I related with my Nan up until the age of 26. Whom I may add, without fail has always asked up until this point if I had met a nice Italian man?
I would always routinely reply, “No Nan. “
“Why not darling?”
“What is a beautiful girl like you doing without a nice man?”
“Brush your hair, grow your hair long… Darling you need to go to the football outside the members or the gym and drop something and have a nice man pick it up for you,”
And I would reply, “I just haven’t met anyone yet Nan. I am happy, I have close friends.”
“Hmmm.” She would reply. Looking at me suspiciously. “Let me brush your hair”
So after we went over and over this scenario of me needing to brush, wear a dress, grow my hair longer, do myself up up stand outside office blocks waiting for a nice man…for years and years. Literally, years and years…
Nan one day stopped and asked me the question…
“You are not one of those silly ones are you?”
“No Nan!” (I knew what she was asking… and reading in me) Although I certainly can be silly 🙂
“So why don’t you have a nice husband and nice children?”
The lie continued a little longer until one day, with the support of Serge Benhayon an inspiring man who’s wisdom I respect deeply, simply said to me ‘tell your Nan’ after I shared with him my stress of keeping my life a secret for fear of hurting my Nan and family…
The opportunity to let my Nan in and be truthful came back around.
“So are you one of them??? “
“Yes Nan. I am.”
Nan looked at me. And said, “I could not love you any less or anymore darling.”
As I got teary and she hugged me, and we squished each other… I began to share with her how amazed I was at her response and how I thought she would kick me out.
Nan just hugged me and said, “How could I love you any less?” Commenting that she see’s us people on television now days…
I believe they introduced a gay character on bold and the beautiful or something! Who would have thought greater acceptance would have stemmed from it. 🙂
So the kinda ironic thing about all of this, after alllll of the years of lying to my Nan, after alllll of the fishing, alllll of the questions, the advice, the times sitting at Nan’s knees as she brushed my curly hair into some fluffy bouffant…Even after I had introduced her to my past partner whom she loved…
Nan now has no memory of my big coming out!
Yep! It is like we have gone back in time.
So now… When I visit… we go through it all again and again and again and again…
Only this time when Nan asks if I have met a nice man, I say “No Nan. But I have met at amazing woman!” As I show her photos of us together gushing about how gorgeous she is. Nan looks at me, makes a sound like I’m not sure how I feel about this…
I say to Nan “we have been through this, you know I have a partner, you know I am not going to meet a nice Italian Man, yet I have met a woman whom I dearly love and who absolutely loves and adores me the same.”
You see, being gay was never ever something myself or my family thought Nan would accept or be capable of dealing with. To be honest prior to me coming out, my family thought telling her would all be too much for her. Like the news would kill her or something.
Nan surprised us all!
When I visited Nan this week I asked when we went though the questions again… “what changed for you? At what point did you start accepting that women and men can be in same sex relationships?”
Nan just looked at me and said when I was growing up people just got married had children and that was it. I would never have even thought of it… Now days…”you have to accept. You just have to, or it would be like me telling you to get out. You can’t do that you know.”
So now, instead of thinking I was going to kill my Nan for being gay… I continue to receive the blessing of a 89 year old woman, who has been stuck in old patterns of belief in many years, still willing to change and recognise it is never too late to accept love and let go of old ideals and beliefs. And although Nan says never ever would I have even thought of this growing up. Now Nan has been presented the opportunity to see that perhaps the strong ideals she raised under is not the only way, and she is embracing that. Nan does have moments where she says it seems wrong, as she questions how ‘you people have children… Yet in saying that every time she goes back into old thoughts… She holds my hand a little tighter, looks me deeply in my eyes and returns to Love. Saying, well if your happy, I’m happy darling. As we talk about the details involved again bringing understanding to her questions.
It is that simple. Through the intimacy I now share with my Nan she is able to fully accept me. The amazing thing is about this, is that Nan and I talk about relationships being about love. As I discuss with her, just because you are in a straight relationship or a gay relationship they both equally take a commitment to make it true and loving. As both can be, just as both can not be. Nan gets it. And although she at times says it is too late for her to make changes and live the self loving life she wants to live, sharing how she doesn’t want to do everything for everyone else like she did this life, wearing herself out, working so hard where she hurts her body. I talk to Nan about her next life. Nan says she is not too sure she believes she is coming back… Yet she does talk about the kind of life she would love to live and the things she doesn’t want to repeat… like she knows it’s possible she is. As her relationship with God, with love let’s her know there is a great purpose to life, and ending on a given up note is not it.
So as each time we come back around… and around and around. There is another opportunity to speak our truth, to let go of beliefs and ideals that separate us, to address behaviours that are not loving, to talk about our concerns and come to greater clarity and understanding. To simply return to who we are. The essence and harmony we are born with. We don’t need to hold back, react and wait for others to be and return to the love and joy, we can live this for ourselves today. Here we will recognise it is our choices that create the news.
So if our choices create the news… What do we choose to live and watch? One that inspires greater acceptance, love, harmony, evolution, truth? Or one that further highlights the separation and abuse?
The choice is ours.
It is never too late to accept love.
It is never too late to live the love we are.