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  • Jane

Meet some of the housemates over the years

This post was originally written in 2021 while mum was still living at my place. I've brought it back because the housemates are still in mum's life and continue to visit her even if she's at the Aged Care Home.

I've written about the household a lot. How it supports each other and seems to carry us all in an odd sort of way.

These days I have two tenants - Lisa from the Phillipines and Sisira from India. Lisa is very kind and gentle and loves the garden with all its flowers. Sisira's a lively and lovely 22 year old student. She’s friendly and helpful too.

There’s also Coby and Bee. I love that Coby lives here, and Bee too, except when Coby frustrates her and she goes into an emotional breakdown that can last for days.

They all see me zipping around like a true chicken without a head. I scurry here and there because I want to finish my jobs and sit down to do my work, specifically my art stuff.

The household revolves around mum. She is the queen, the centre of this home. Without her it wouldn’t have its spark. Everyone is out to help her.

Last night I was out late. Bee came home especially early from work by Uber so that she could be with ‘nana’ and give her hot milk, honey and toast. To me that’s priceless.

Yasha/Coby is wonderful with her too. Always patient and tending to her requests of ‘hot tea’ all day long. Whenever Coby and Bee cook, they always prepare a plate for mum. This makes me joyous.

Dealing with the challenges of living in a share-house can sometimes be tricky but the experience is definitely life-learning.

Here are some of the dear people in our house who have enriched mum's life:

Sandra, from Spain, came to us through an organisation called WWOOFERS (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms). She stayed with us for a month, helping with different chores and art projects. She is a flamingo dancer and taught mum many fun moves.

Maziar (with the sunglasses) moved in with us in 2013. He got to know mum and dad well as he frequently visited them. They used to tell him stories from their past and he likewise told them his own.

Maziar told us that he and his friend Sadra fled Iran in 2012. During the journey from Indonesia to Australia their boat sunk in the Indian Ocean. 305 people were on the boat and only 16 people survived - including Maziar and Sadra. Tragically, Sadra’s mother was one of those that drowned at sea. A small fishing boat rescued the boys and returned them to Indonesia where they were arrested by Indonesian border police. They were imprisoned but managed to escape, and for the second time travelled by boat, finally arriving on Australian shores in 2013.

They were detained for 6 months before they were accepted as refugees on Christmas Island. Sadra’s early years in Australia were very difficult, but over time he seemed to adjust well. He particularly enjoyed relaxing with his friends in the back garden with a beer, and ended up staying with us for three years.

The word was out that our household was a friendly one, and over time many young Iranians joined us, including Ashkan, Wahid and Karan, who was quiet and philosophical and always good to mum. Each one of these young men spoiled mum, sharing their authentic Iranian meals and caring for her as if she was their own grandmother.

Yasha’s girlfriend Bee lived with us for many years. Back home in Vietnam, she had cared for her grandmother and therefore was attuned to mum's needs. Always kind and loving, she pampered and watched over mum.

Every morning she set out her porridge, cup of tea and medication. Even when Bee was at work, she would check on mum from the ap on her phone which was connected to a camera in mum's room. Bee was an extra pair of watchful eyes - if she saw a problem, she alerted me immediately.

Then there's Lena who arranged a posy every day next to mum's bed because she knew flowers filled mum with joy.

Sometimes mum got up early, long before me, and Lena, an early riser, would bring her a cup of tea and toast and sit quietly with her. When mum started to nod off, Lena took her back to bed.

Last year, two nuns from the Missionary of Charity came to visit Lena because she volunteered for them. She told them mum was a Holocaust survivor and they were very keen to meet her. They came to mum's bedside and asked her for a blessing. Mum touched the cross on their habits and rested her hand on their heads. It was a very moving moment for all three of them and brought back memories of when mum was so down and alone after the war. It was the nuns, so gentle and caring, who took her in and nurtured her in those first devastating months.

Sisira, a sweet girl from India, completed her masters’ degree while staying with us for two years during COVID-19.

Mum especially loved when Sisira painted her nails in bright colours.

Every day mum had the habit of going down the front steps to collect the mail. One time she had a bad fall. Sisira, sensing that she should go outside and check on her, found her sprawled on the steps, head pointing down, legs pointing up. She helped mum untangle herself and sat with her until the ambulance arrived. Mum ended up breaking six ribs.

Sisira, waiting for the ambulance with mum, Just after mum's fall down the front steps

Aman, from India, lived with us for over five years and finally left the household when his mother arranged his marriage. He was an excellent cook and every evening he would prepare mum a cup of delicious hot chai.

We were delighted that he was getting married but very sad to see him go.

Sadra & mum (holding dinner that he cooked for her)

Me, Kaman, mum & Sadra

Mum finding out that Sadra is leaving

Why mum likes Ricky (half Italian half Indonesian).

5.2023. A reunion :-)

Sisra and Bee visiting mum at the Aged Care Home


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