I was born in a small country town in South East Queensland, Australia. I was lucky to have a close family that loved me and an extended family that was also central to my upbringing. Myself, my twin sister and brother were surrounded by older and elderly people for most of our young lives. For me this was a blessing; I learnt how to talk with older people and spend time with them – not necessarily speaking, sometimes just doing.
After a false start in Science some 20 years ago (it took me 6 months to figure out I couldn’t spend hours behind a microscope) I studied Nursing. Perhaps not surprisingly, I have for most of my career worked with older people, in aged care settings, specialist dementia settings and in palliative care settings. I’m generally curious about people who have lived many years and what it means to grow older and how we think about and talk about death and dying. I think the roots of this curiosity come from having a Grandfather who lived with dementia for many years and a Grandmother who lived with frailty (longer than what she would have half a century beforehand).
I love the nitty-gritty of life and this is what really led me to do an Honours Degree and PhD. These pursuits legitimately gave me the luxury to rattle around in peoples’ lives and ask questions which may have otherwise been considered distasteful, overly aggressive or just unnecessary. I’m still asking questions especially of older people, but more recently also of myself and what it means for me to also be getting older or growing up …. or whatever else you want to call it.
Let me end with this photo. I learn things from people (young and old) almost every day. Though truth be known I probably prefer elderly people. When I quickly snapped this photo on a winter’s day in Hobart I learnt that no matter what age you are, you can be a “Hot Chilli Girl” (or guy for that matter).