I met another man on the weekend. This one didn’t offer to help me with my walking frame or laugh off any chivalry jokes. In fact he didn’t have much to do with me, but rather I saw the way he interacted with his sister and it just blew me away.
On Sunday I visited one of the Yooralla supported accommodations to attend their Christmas party. One of their residents is a participant in my peer support program, Amy* and her volunteer, Jack*, wanted to attend the party to celebrate Christmas with her, her house mates, the workers and her family. I wanted to join in on the celebrations.
When I arrived there, the volunteer hadn’t shown up yet, so I introduced myself to her family. One of her brothers, Sam*, was there with his wife and their ten week old baby, Miller. She had such beautiful blue eyes and was very alert.
Amy is pretty much non-verbal, but her brother and sister-in-law were chatting away with her, cracking jokes about past Christmases and so forth. She smiled a bit and laughed. Sam fed her some quiche and sandwiches while the sister-in-law and I chatted about our backgrounds. She mentioned how she used to be a chef and I mentioned how that used to be my dream job and chucked about how it just wasn’t meant to be for me.
Jack showed up and he chatted away with Sam about the year and how the development of wheelchair was going along with Amy’s communication device which just wasn’t working as fast as it should be. Sam got all excited and whispered to us that he’d brought his sister an IPad 2. With her head device she would be able to send emails to him and even Skype from it. I learnt that there all these apps that enables people with communication issues to be able to use it as a device and could even speak for people. Until now, the only time Amy had access to these things was when she attended day services on a particular day when the IT guy showed up and he didn’t always show up.
We then moved on to talking about their family. The brother mentioned how much she loves her step-mother and that she was anxiously waiting for the step-mum and her father to show up. And when they did show up, Amy’s eyes just lit up and she jumped in her wheelchair.
I looked around the room and saw the other families interacting with their relative and everyone was in such cheerful moods. The enormous amount of food was devoured and Christmas crackers were torn in two. When the presents were opened, the cameras went off and there were squeals and laughter throughout the room.
Sam excitedly beckoned Amy over to him and they unwrapped the present together. There were no squeals of joy or excited jumps, but there was a big smile and Sam and Amy played around with the IPad while he explained to her all the cool things she could do with it, including Skype with her niece Miller.
There’s something really nice about seeing people getting excited about the small things, like a visit from their family, rather than material things that end up breaking down anyway.