‘Frustration and stress about my health won’t stop me from doing things I enjoy’

Jun 26, 2020
Fran came to realise all that's good in her life during a walk on the beach. Source: Getty Images

As I wandered rather slowly across the damp, white sand of my local beach, I marvelled at its beauty. In front of me the small waves were breaking, leaving clean, white foam. Behind them, they looked angry and grey as they once again headed for the shore.

My little cavoodle ran along the edge of the salty water. I knew it was too cold for her to go in, but I didn’t have the heart to stop her enthusiasm, so I just tried to keep her on the edge. She loves the beach. It took me years to get her into the water, so who am I to tell her no.

A few metres out into the ocean, there were three swimmers. Their forms, dressed in black wet suits, bobbed up and down with the motion of the water. They swam the length of this part of the beach. I see them often. They are not young and they are my heroes. I can no longer walk half the length they swim and they do lap after lap.

Two young women come onto the shore, kayaks tucked under their arms. They greet me and we discuss the fact that given it is only 4C, today is not a good day for falling into the water, which one has done. They are laughing and I’m sure teeth are chattering. Of course my dog thinks they are there for her and no matter how cold they are, they still play with her awhile.

As we move on, I find I am angry with myself. It’s so hard for me to walk anywhere, especially on sand, and I love to walk. I wish I could turn back time. I wish I was not inflicted with illnesses that prevent me from practising a lot of exertion. I wish there was more I could do. I have so much I want to do. Will I be able to achieve my goals?

I walk further down the beach, avoiding a rather large gathering of people — with very boisterous dogs. How silly would I look if I was knocked over … My dog, Scarlet, is happy for me to throw a stick for her to fetch.

Once we have left the beach and headed towards the tap to clean off the sand, Scarlet spots a little girl with her parents. I put her on a short lead so the toddler can pat her. The toddler’s name is Frances. She has red curly hair. She could be my granddaughter. Her parents love that she has the same name as me. I have never liked my name, but curiously, it suits this sweet little girl.

On the way home, I call in to a favourite coffee shop, which has managed to stay afloat with their takeaway menu. I order a coffee and a large chocolate filled cookie, which I am fast becoming addicted to. Luckily I only frequent the shop once a fortnight. The girls are lovely and always have a smile and a kind word. I take my treats home, give Scarlet her treat and we sit quietly and enjoy.

It is colder now and raindrops are starting to fall. I look up and see the few remaining flowers from my Mother’s Day bouquet still blooming, looking back at me across the room. I wonder will they find a cure for what ails me before it is too late? I hope so, but as the beauty of the flowers bring a smile to my face, I realise how rich I am.

I may never be able to walk that mile again, or run through the airport to catch that plane. I may never be able to stand beneath the Eiffel Tower or walk the streets of Paris, but look how much I have done.

I have travelled most of Australia. I have been to America, parts of Austria and Italy, the country I have always dreamed about. I have met so many wonderful people and have lasting friendships. I have finally — after 60 years — spent a wonderful holiday with my sister, even if I was a little slow. I have seen my boys reach adulthood and I have two fabulous grandchildren.

I can’t walk far, but I can walk. I might never travel again, but I won’t stop trying. I can walk on the beach and find that the majority of humans I meet are pretty nice, caring people. I can look out at a beautiful, blue ocean just a short drive from where I live, anytime I please.

I have worked many different jobs, written stories and reared babies. I am a mother, a sister, an aunt, a grandmother and most of all a friend to whoever needs one. I am one more thing. I am lucky.

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