I’m sure most of you will be familiar with Aesop’s fable ‘The Hare and the Tortoise’.
The excitable, speedy hare makes fun of the slow and steady tortoise, until eventually getting fed up with his bragging, the tortoise challenges the hare to a race. Fully expecting to win and knowing how slow the tortoise is, the hare decides to take a rest and falls into a deep sleep. On waking, he is astonished to see that the tortoise has quietly passed by, and is just crossing the finish line. The moral of the story is of course as we all know, that ‘Slow and Steady wins the race’
For those of you who are following my blog, you may have read my post ‘For the love of Simon. and be aware of the fact that I have been both Mum and carer to Simon for the past 32 years, from the age of 23. During those years, and especially over the few years since my other three children left home, there have been many occasions when I have felt like that tortoise.
Ok, so admittedly I don’t look quite like this, at least I hope not! but oh how often I have felt that I have just been plodding slowly along, fulfilling my duty as a parent and carer to my son, as any loving parent would, and to be totally honest, up until 6 months ago i expected to be plodding on in that role for the rest of my scaly days. Even my mum would say to me at times…”Just keep plodding on Alison” did she think I was a tortoise too?
So I have plodded, slowly working through each day, taking each hump and bump as it came, and trying my best to come out smiling. Like any other tortoise, I have at times become overwhelmed with my lot and have needed a helping hand to get back on my feet so I could continue plodding but isn’t that what friends are for.
This past year has stretched my shell to the limits. Being a carer is hard enough, but when the carer’s health suffers, as mine has after a bad fall 16 months ago, who does the caring? As is so often the case for many of us, the tortoise just had to plod some more and somehow keep things going with a very achy outer shell and at times an achy inner one too. Thankfully I’ve had some help from someone who’s been willing to plod alongside me, and I’m grateful to my man for that.
In a recent post I talked about some changes that were happening this year, and as I lay on my bed of straw (looking as tortoisy as I can) I am struck by the quiet in my cottage. The silence hanging around me is a sound that I never expected to hear. It is the sound of a house without Simon because Simon has moved out, Simon is living in his own shell.
Although an unhealthy one, this year has also created the time needed to look into the possibilities for Simon to live more independently. This week we moved him into his own little flat in a supported living complex where he will be supported on a daily basis by the on-site carers. Watching him being handed his key was an emotional experience, maybe a bit like watching Dennis Mortimer lifting the European Cup, after the win against Bayern Munich in Rotterdam in 1972. If like Simon you support ‘The Villa’
So many things have just slotted into place to make this transition easier. Simons older brother has just recently moved back to Derby and lives just five minutes from Simons new home, and his other brother lives just a few more minutes in the other direction which will give Simon a lot more contact with his siblings and somewhere to go and grab an easy meal or two or three !!
We are in the very early stages of a huge life change for both myself and Simon. Of course, I will continue to be involved in his care and there will always be things that he needs help with, but for the first time in 32 years my load has got a little lighter and my shell doesn’t feel so heavy.
I’m not sure how the whole tortoise thing came into this post, it just kind of evolved, but I think the message I want to get across is this: that life can totally turn around when we are least expecting it. All that plodding suddenly becomes worthwhile and we see that there was light at the end of the tunnel after all. It just happened to be a very long tunnel, but we got there eventually.
In the fable of the hare and the tortoise, the tortoise won the race through his tireless efforts, he just kept going without worrying about his slow pace and as I pull my straw around me, in a very peaceful home I can almost hear my mums voice.
“keep plodding on Alison”… and I smile.
Love Alison x