31 Jul 2015 at 11:10AM
Category: Your Stories
She’s had to take on the role of mother for her two grandchildren following a heart breaking event which changed four lives forever.
The hardest thing for MT sometimes is the realisation, in many ways, she’s taken her daughter’s place in life.
Back in 2000, she thought her daughter had overcome a drug overdose.
“There is still a lot of doubt about how it actually happened,” Marlene says.
After a spell in hospital and then rehab, Marelene had convinced herself the worst was over.
“Then all of a sudden, virtually overnight she was totally different,” she remembers.
“They said she had a stroke. Her speech changed, she couldn’t speak properly, her left side was starting to be very weak and distorted.”
Just as quickly, Marlene, had inadvertently become the mother of her daughter’s two children who were both approaching their teenage years.
While time and energy doesn’t allow Marlene to care for her full time, she’s done the next best thing for her now 41-year-old daughter.
“I’ve raised her kids for her instead,” she says.
“The biggest challenge for me... is when they’re having 18th and 21st birthdays and dramas at school, that’s been a big thing.
“She misses her kids. Even though she can’t show a lot of emotion anymore, if you look into her eyes you can see that she’s missing her kids.”
Her voice begins to break with emotion as she reveals the difficulties the children, now 22 and 23, have experienced.
“It’s been hard on the kids,” she says.
“They’ve missed out on a lot with their mum, they get a bit upset about it. She can’t speak very much.
“She hugs them when they’re around, she hugs them all the time.”
Luckily BrainLink, who have been on the scene offering guidance from pretty much the start.
They found her accommodation after it had been initially suggested, post-rehab, she would be moved to a nursing home.
“That was totally inappropriate,” Marlene says.
“The links that BrainLink had, got her out of the nursing home. They’re all roughly the same age with varying disabilities and they all get along pretty well.
“That’s when BrainLink’s been good, even if they don’t have anything planned you can still ring them up and talk to them.
“They’re a great help for taking your mind off all the dramas.”
She says the past 14years has taught her plenty.
“I’ve probably become a lot more patient,” she says.
“Caring for my daughter is a slow thing. For instance if I tried to get her to walk around the hallway here, it takes forever.
“I can do it in two seconds but for her it takes her ten minutes. You have to look out for things you wouldn’t normally look out for.
“To make sure pathways are clear, there’s nothing for her to trip over.
“If it was a child doing something naughty you’d growl at them, but you can’t with somebody with a stroke, you have to speak to them differently.
“Otherwise you can frighten them a bit, you can see the fear in their face if you raise your voice.”