Sometimes these things are practical; directed around the house or hands-on medical stuff.
Sometimes the things are about providing emotional support to the people who aren’t the primary medical patient; in the form of just listening and offering up my time to substitute for her so that she/the family can get things done/look after herself.
Sometimes the things are all about making my brother feel better for the immediate short moment. This may take the form of redirecting him from a frustrating situation; giving him some activity to do that genuinely benefits the family; or even just sitting/lying with him and talking.
I try to reminisce about childhood memories because I know that he remembers some of those. It makes me happy to think about the great things we did. I am so lucky to have had him as my brother, growing up for all of these years. He always looked out for me, always supported me, always valued me as a sibling, no matter how awful I was at the time.
We rode our bikes all day into the surrounding countryside, spurred on by the sandwiches our mother had given us for a picnic, and with strict instructions to come home before it was dark. We had friends here and there but a particular friend lived around 10 kms away and we thought nothing of cycling over to see him and he often met us halfway.
Our favourite spot for this little group of three was a stream at the bottom of a valley. We dumped our bikes at the rough track entrance and played all day there. It was a National Park but that never impinged on anything we played with/at. There was a barrier some years after, informing us that we couldn’t take dogs, drive cars or horses etc any further but us kids disregarded it totally, on the non-legal grounds that we’d been coming there forever and therefore we had rights.
They upgraded to a sign across the entrance track that supposedly only walkers were supposed to go through. I used to count the paw marks, hoofprints, bicycle tyres and car marks that went around.
When we grew out of those all day child excursions, the valley maintained its attraction as a family walk venue. We’d park our car at the rough entrance and walk along the stream until we reached a little hollow with a waterfall. Back then, the stream mostly ran for all of the year and it became a Christmas tradition to walk down there after the stupefying lunch and plunge ourselves under the waterfall, before heading back home for tea and fruitcake.
They upgraded to a locked gate across the entrance. It was an effort to get around. We still did our special occasion walks but it was so much harder. If ever most of the family were gathered together, a walk down there became an obligatory part of the reunion.
Often, we’d walk it without the group, just because it was such a pretty walk and so close to where we lived, but we always included it as part of family celebrations.
Earlier this year we tried to do a family walk down there again but it became apparent that my brother would never have enough strength to get himself as far as the waterfall so we turned around. We were all so bitterly disappointed.
Like I said, it is so much better if I can concentrate on things that will help the family right now. I had the bright idea of asking for permission to drive into the National Park:just to a certain distance and only once, given the circumstances.
I called the council; they fobbed me off. I called the Department of Parks; they fobbed me off. I explained the situation again and again and I was passed down the line every time. It is so hard to to organize stuff like this when I am traveling away with very little internet opportunities.
Now I just think “Fuck you. I am taking him down there regardless and I will try to smear mud on my number plates but even if I do get that $5000 fine it will be worth it.”.
I feel better when I can do meaningful things.
I told my husband that I was going to do this and he got very quiet. He said he thought I shouldn’t do it and I was really upset that he would inflict his moral integrity and attitudes about breaking the law onto me. We’ve always worked as two autonomous people and take care not to negate the other person’s point of view, no matter how disparate.
I delved deeper and the truth is so much more awful. He doesn’t want me to even try to do it because he knows that my brother is no longer up to it.
I never even considered that. Oh, sure I told the useless government departments that the issue was time sensitive but I somehow totally overlooked the fact that my cajoling/pressuring statement was only relevant because it was true.
I feel so devastated by my lack of awareness.