Lessons from other lands


While Brendan Bjorn was in respite at the amazing LauraLynn Children’s Hospice last week, I spent a few days away to recharge my totally depleted batteries. If I think about it, I’d say my batteries needed changed, not just recharged! Whichever, while it was too short, it still did my heart and head good. Now it’s time to look ahead to what will be a busy summer with Brendan’s spinal fusion due to take place and with what I hope will very soon be a permanent move to the bungalow we have secured with a deposit in County Wexford.

Here’s hoping that I recharged those batteries well enough.

Before I look ahead, I want to put pen to paper on this past week away, for there is always something to learn in life, I believe. We as a society, as a culture, should be able to learn from others without defensiveness or insult. We should be able to accept other people into our fold without belittling or excluding those who are different. Here is why I’m starting off with those thoughts: 

A couple of weeks ago, I was on the phone with someone who made a point to remind me that I am not Irish. In fact, because I am very interested in genealogy and had my ethnicity DNA done a number of years ago, this person reminded me that I am “only 4% Irish” in my DNA makeup. Ok…so what? Should it matter? No. Does it matter to some people? Sadly, yes.

Fast forward to last week, when I was sitting around a dinner table with cousins in a different country. (Do I need to add my DNA ethnicity is 44% for this particular country? No, I didn’t think so, but for those who are keeping track, there you have it…I say with a giggle) Champagne was opened, a proverbial feast of traditional foods laid out on the table, and best of all, laughter and conversation flowed freely. Sitting outside overlooking the countryside while we had our dessert of fresh strawberries and ice cream, the newest member of the family – just 3 months old – entertaining us all, while the sun was working its way down the sky was pure bliss.

God how I needed that time and connection!
May it last me for the months ahead.

What I really want to share with you, dear reader, is what we can, and should, learn from other countries. As I mentioned earlier, we as a society should be able to hear these suggestions without defensiveness, without excluding who is speaking because they “are only 4% Irish” or for any other closed-minded or nationalistic reason. Let’s listen. Let’s learn.

And then let’s try to improve what needs to be done to better support families who have disabled children.

I was telling my cousins about how many homeless we have here in Ireland, and how thousands of them are children. They were literally speechless. Momentarily, that is. In Norway, everyone who wants a place to live will have a roof over their heads. End of.

I was telling my cousins about how I get no in home nursing assistance because the 2 available nurses didn’t want to take the 5 hours per week allotted for various reasons. Again, momentarily speechless. In Norway, considering Brendan Bjorn’s very profound care needs, at the very least I would have full time nursing care available in the home while I was at work, but most likely I would have it 24/7 so that I could also get out of the house for not just work, but to…to have a life of my own, as well. The way we are doing things here in Ireland is inhumane and in many ways, cruel and unsafe for all family members. Can you see how it would benefit the society as a whole, too, if parents like me were able to continue with their careers?

I was telling my cousins about how I am resigned to humiliating myself by doing crowdfunding to raise money to purchase the suitable bungalow that Brendan Bjorn requires because the housing waitlist is many years long across Ireland. In Norway, that suitable type of housing would be provided for us so that he could receive the best care needed, and my own health could be saved from having to care for him in an unsuitable, unsafe environment where I can’t even use a hoist.

I was telling my cousins about the whole 4% Irish ethnicity thing being thrown in my face. That was the one time they weren’t immediately speechless. Thank God for laughter in the face of ridiculousness. 

Now, if anyone reading this is getting defensive or annoyed at me and my 4% Irishness (yes, I say that sarcastically to make a point), please, don’t.

Just stop and listen.
Then let’s ask what are we in Ireland doing, or not doing, that they are doing in Norway? How can we improve what we are doing?
Is it a cultural and/or society viewpoint that needs changed as well as governmental policies? I think the answer to this last question is YES, by the way.

I end a week away with a heart that has been refilled with peace and love and laughter and purpose. I look ahead to the summer that will be filled with hard work and what will be extremely trying times, to be sure. But I’ve no doubt, though, that my 2 amazingly precious sons and I will see it through, together. 

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