My mum is amazing. At 5’4 (or close) with size 5 feet and tiny hands, her heart, passion and energy for life makes up for her smallness.
Born in a country hospital on the Darling Downs in the 1950s it is a miracle she is alive, let alone reaching her dreams and standing up for what matters. Why?
My mum and her twin sister were born 3 months premature due to a lack of oxygen – or so the story goes. Two incubators had to be rushed from Brisbane to Miles due to the severity of the issues that followed. Weighing less than a 2L bottle of milk, my mum and Aunty Cathy shared more than a sisterly-twin-bond, they shared multiple challenges that became apparent during their developmental stages.
My mum is legally blind with approximately 6% vision while my aunty has cerebral palsy and is dependent on 24hr care. Due to a number of situations, when my aunty turned 11 she was put into an institution in Toowoomba – a place to shut the ‘disadvantaged’ away from society. My aunty stayed there for 47 years.
For 47 years my mum lived without her twin sister by her side. She also had many problems to overcome and at grade 10 she was told to drop out of school as she wasn’t academic. I think this must have been a turning point for my mum as she went on to finish high school, nursing college and later on completed a First Class Honours in Social Welfare and is a mother to four children and three grandchildren!
It was during the nineties when she discovered that the State Government was going to shut down institutions, shut down where my aunty was shut away from society. This is when my mum really stated to understand what happened behind closed doors – abuse, neglect and a serious lack of humanity.
Fast forward to the early 2000s , a small circle of loved ones and people advocates got together to work out a strategy to get my aunty out of living within an institutionalised world, rather live in her own home and contribute to the community – we called ourselves Cathy’s Circle.
My mum has been the driving force of the circle, which for the last two decades she has attended countless meetings with Ministers, decision-makers and funding agencies to ensure my aunty got the best she deserved.
Finally, good news surfaced when we secured a funding package for my aunty to live in her own home, specifically designed for people with disabilities, and wait for it, within walking distance to my mum’s home. As my mum can’t drive, it was critical that they lived within walking distance of each other – after 47years they must be taking in every moment!
My aunty moved to the Gold Coast, a few blocks from the beach earlier this year. It is amazing for my aunty to come over for dinner parties and share family time together. Though more importantly, know that when I say good bye to my aunty I know she is going home, to a safe place with love, peace and happiness.
But my mum isn’t stopping here! She has been and is advocating for many other people with disabilities – let alone her own dreams too. She is determined to ensure all people have access to the right resources, services and a process to make decisions for themselves. She is amazing.
She turned 59 today – sorry mum.
Happy Birthday mum and Aunty Cathy!