My Story: The power of love
The power of loveArticle from February 2020 edition of Intouch eNewsletter

Many would have seen the wonderful ABC series “Old People’s Home for 4 Year Olds,” which showed how interaction between the very young and the very old brought great benefits to both groups - old people who had sunk into depression and unresponsiveness came alive again with much brighter outlooks and the children greatly looked forward to their weekly meetups, receiving a great sense of security and love.

But this improvement applies equally to disabled people, as I discovered with the arrival of my grandson, Landon, in 2018. I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1990 and since Landon’s birth, I’ve been seeing him regularly and we’ve developed a great bond. 

At first, I was fearful of not being able to hold him securely and we had very little direct contact. But then he began sitting with me in bed and we watched TV together or I sang him songs or recited poems. I thought I had forgotten these, but I was inspired to relearn them, and my memory began to improve. 

I began to sing songs that I used to sing in the bush band and recite poems from my pub performing days. My own boys used to enjoy my renditions of “All for Me Grog” when they were toddlers (and neither of them grew up to be alcoholics!).

Just when my MS had been bringing me down to a point where I no longer wanted to go out or do anything much, things began to look brighter; I now had someone who not only gave me unconditional love, but to whom I could offer something in return. 

And only a short time prior to Landon’s arrival, I’d been thinking that my only real use was as a trivia night team member! To see Landon’ s beaming face when he visits is enough to cheer me up for the whole day. 

We have such fun together. He loves sitting in bed with me now and receiving treats from my carer. He’s also started to enjoy trips with me around the house in my wheelchair. He gets so excited at the prospect, and early on began making it obvious that he wanted to get up on pop’s lap and go for a ride around the house. He worked out that before he could travel, I needed a cushion on my lap. So, by the time he was one, he would go and grab it first and bring it over to me!

Now, we go riding all around the garden and near and far - he is one young person who will grow up never seeing someone in a wheelchair as anything unusual.

Sadly, many years ago as my MS progressed, I had to give up my musical instruments one by one ‘till all I was left with was my harmonica, and even this eventually became impossible to hold up as my left arm began to lose strength. But in a Christmas bonbon last year, I received a tiny harmonica which I could play between finger and thumb. Landon has been entranced by this. I have just bought him his own harmonica for Christmas which I will teach him to play.

Landon has taught me that there is a great deal we can gain by interacting with the younger generation. And it works both ways!

© Bruce Mumford 

Photo by Kim Batman

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