Suzanne’s impact

by barbznz

Many people will assume wrongly that because of her disabilities, Suzanne didn’t really contribute to the world. Suzanne was never hidden away. She was always surrounded by people. Some like my father didn’t understand why we kept her in the community. He felt she would have been better off in an institution. Marty’s parents felt the same. They couldn’t understand why we loved her but we did, she was ours. Marty came to love her as much as I did and eventually once she got used to the idea,  she loved him too.

Of course Suzanne couldn’t tell us these things but her manner showed us that it was so. She could communicate in small ways, like letting us know when she was hungry or uncomfortable and of course, she always let us know when it was morning, she would sing with birds in her own way.  

My friends children grew up with Suzanne and they accepted her for who she was. She was magnet really, she drew people towards her. And I know that she has not been forgotten. 

In Henderson Crescent, Franzi Abplanalp who lived over the road was a constant companion. She adored Suzanne and spend a lot of time with her. Franzi’s family were originally  from Switzerland.  There were four children, Ben the eldest, Franzi, Deborah who was the same age as Jenni and Simon. They are all grown and married now, Franzi is a Facebook friend married with lots of children and she still talks about Suzanne. 

Suzanne made an impact. She taught people about patience,  she touched so many people.and I still have people ask me how she is doing. Her smile would light up the room. She had definite likes and dislikes. If she didn’t like you she would let you know big time. She had what Maori call Ahua. A sense of who she was in the universe, it is a hard concept to describe in English but it means she was pretty special. 

But life must have been  frustrating for her as well. One thing she  really didn’t like was bean bags. I think it was the consistency of beads. At CDU she would  put on one and she slowly work her way back on to the floor. Some well meaning soul would come along and say Oh Suzanne, you have fallen off your bean bag. and put her back on it. 

There was odd hospital admission after a seizure. I never understood that when she had a bad seizure at CDU why they rang an ambulance and she would be taken to hospital. I would get a call and rush up there thinking the worst, only to find that the seizure was finished and she was fine. Admittedly some of her seizures were pretty big but I always knew they would stop and things would be fine. 

Suzanne was always physically healthy, she ate a good variety of food though of course it had to be mashed. In fact she loved to eat. In her later years there was talk about tube feeding her, because of the risk of aspiration.Fortunately it the talk didn’t come to anything.  I couldn’t think of anything worse for her, she loved her food and she was healthy.  Her favourite was chocolate, any kind particularly chocolate yoghurt.she had a really sweet tooth but didn’t mean she didn’t eat all her veges first. 

Of course life for Suzanne was about to change forever, I was pregnant and she would be getting, (I hoped) a little brother. I worried about how I would cope with having Suzanne and a newborn to care for. Marty’s would be eligible for a divorce around the time baby was due so we could get married then.

But fate had so much more in store for us, more than I could have ever imagined.

© Barbara Hart 2014