(In loving memory of my precious Dad, who passed away peacefully on Easter Monday)
One of my earliest childhood memories is being on the passenger ship “Aurelia”.
I was 3 years of age and embarking on a journey that would change the entire course of my life. I was migrating from the United Kingdom to Australia with my family.
Fuzzy and Special Memories
My memories, of the long 6 week journey at sea, are a little fuzzy given I was so young, but some stand out.
I remember the only food available was Italian cuisine. Not something an English 3 year old could adjust easily to, especially when dealing with sea sickness. I was given the only alternative for 6 weeks…canned baby food!
Another clear memory is of our little cabin. It contained 4 bunk beds, a basin and a small porthole. I also remember the intensity of sea sickness as our cabin was below deck and the journey was incredibly rough.
Fresh air on the top deck was a relief and it’s there my clearest, most special memory lies.
I remember, while seeking comfort and relief from sickness in the fresh air, being on a small carousel or roundabout ride. My Dad was standing at the side. I can see in my mind’s eye his big smile and protective stance. I felt loved, safe and secure in his care. This first clear memory of my Dad epitomizes the wonderful relationship we shared over the years.
As a young girl he was my hero, always making me smile, always making every day feel special. No one could instil joy and excitement into birthdays, Christmas and special occasions like my Dad. It was like living with the real Santa Claus!
As a teenager I could talk to Dad about anything. It was like talking to a best friend. Boyfriends, school issues, life issues in general…nothing was off topic.
Dad had a great sense of humour and I remember, when I was 15 years of age, I told him about a boy who I really liked. One day on the drive to school, I saw this boy walking along the footpath and I made the mistake of pointing him out to Dad.
A few days later, as Dad was dropping me off in the school carpark, this boy was walking past our car, so Dad decided it would be fun to honk the horn and give him a wave. To say I was mortified was an understatement. Thankfully we shared a similar sense of humour and had a great laugh together at the ridiculousness of what had just transpired.
As I grew into a young woman, Dad was on hand always to offer words of wisdom, never to tell me what to do, but to simply guide and lovingly encourage. He made me believe I could do anything, be anything. I would sit in his study for hours and we would chat together solving all the issues of the world.
Dad and I shared a love of music. He was an amazing organist and I loved to sing. When I was living at home he would often be playing the organ, practising the hymns for Sunday and I’d join him in singing for hours!
We’d also sing in the car, sing around the house but sitting at the organ, singing in harmony together, were some of the happiest moments spent with Dad.
I had the honour of working full-time for a year, side by side with Dad, restoring a beautiful historic church building back to its former glory. Such precious memories of this time together as we shared the highs and lows of such a huge task, while experiencing God’s never-ending faithfulness in helping us at every turn.
He taught me how to pray and showed me how wonderful it is to really believe in God. He encouraged my own life of faith and hope, and equipped me for all the challenges life could and would throw at me.
Every time I see a carousel, I am transported back to the first precious memory of Dad. It’s a positive symbol of love and a happy moment.
Which Horse Will We Be Riding Today?
I was chatting to my husband today about my health. With tears streaming down my face due to exhaustion from pain, I told him I don’t think I can go on like this. It’s just too hard physically.
Everyday my symptoms are escalating. Everyday another bone breaks or re-breaks. I am literally consumed by pain. Short of filling me with so much medication I would be in a comatose state or violently ill, there is no solution. No miracle drug, no easy answer.
I feel like my body is trying to kill me without knowing how to do it. It just tortures me.
I found myself trying to explain the unexplainable to my husband but what came out of my mouth stopped me in my tracks;
” I feel my health is like a carousel and each horse represents a different disease. Each day my body selects which horse to ride and takes me on a journey of a selection of symptoms. It’s a perpetual ride that goes around and around. It never stops”
It was the use of the word “carousel” that really hit me.
My beautiful childhood memory had suddenly moved into my adulthood in a way, no longer sweet and innocent, but torturous.
The analogy was so apt though. My husband said he wished he’d recorded what I’d said as he would love to play it to my medical team. Not that they don’t believe me, they do and they care deeply but he felt it described so well the agony of complex and multiple diseases.
He felt every inch of my pain. He cried with me.
Another Special Carousel Moment
In a strange way the carousel from my childhood and the connection with my Dad, now has a deep and tender connection with my husband.
As I used the carousel of symptoms as an analogy to explain my chronic disease ride, he could visualize exactly what I meant. He felt it as much as I did.
Somehow that helped. It didn’t relieve my pain but it relieved the emotional pressure of carrying the effects of my pain. It was shared. Truly shared in an intimate moment of complete understanding.
On this perpetual journey, my husband stands by my side with a tender smile and protective stance and despite my pain, I feel loved, safe and secure in his care…..just like I did with my Dad all those years ago, as a 3 year old, on the carousel ride.
The saying “swings and roundabouts” feels very apt.
I will continue to ride on. I will always ride on but when I have those moments where it all feels too much, I’ll have the carousel memories and moments to muse upon.
Those moments that remind me, not of sea sickness or pain and disease, but of love.
Love is patient, love is kind…..It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.1 Corinthians 13 v 4, 7 & 8 (NIV)
If you’re looking for genuine support, care, understanding and friendship, you are so welcome to join my closed Facebook support forum,Medical Musings with Friends. It’s a safe place to connect with others living with chronic and complex diseases, who truly understand the daily challenges. A warm welcome awaits.
If you prefer an audible blog post, please check out my Podcast, Medical Musings With Sam
I’m a Contributor at “The Mighty”. You can check out my published articles atMy Author Page
I also write @ Blogs by Christian Women
If you would like to read a little more about my journey, here’s the link toMy Story
Australian Aspire Awards 2020 Nominee – Awarded Medal of Recognition for Individual Best Achievement Community Advocacy.
Thank you to Arthritis Queensland for the nomination!