Going shopping with Gaby . . . .

Going shopping with Gaby and Honey, who’s Gaby’s lovely companion dog. Once every two weeks we meet our daughter Gaby in Merrylands Shopping Centre to help her with her shopping. Gaby loves to bring her dog along too. Since Honey is a registered companion dog for a wheelchair person, she’s allowed to take the dog into the shopping  centre. However when she goes to the supermarket to buy her groceries, the dog has to stay outside, that means ‘Grandma’ Uta has to stay outside too to mind Honey, while Grandpa Peter helps Gaby with her grocery shopping which usually takes her the best part of an hour. I don’t mind sitting outside, where there are some comfortable seating arrangements and carpets for the dog to stretch out on. Honey is no trouble whatsoever. I’ve been known to sometimes nod off a bit when I feel tired!

Yesterday however, when we met Gaby again, I kept myself awake the whole time while waiting for Gaby and Peter. What kept me really awake was an e-book which I liked reading very much. When we had some coffee earlier on, I asked Peter to take a picture of Gaby and me. Then I thought it would be nice if Honey was in the picture too. So I lifted her up. That made me laugh outragesly because it’s not normally my habit at all to lift Honey up. (Can’t remember ever having done it before.) Looking at the picture now, I really don’t like it very much, but I’m going to include it anyway for I don’t have any other pictures for today. I asked Gaby, would she mind if I put her pictures in my blog. Her answer was, that she didn’t mind at all, since she’s always being recognised by a lot of people anyway.

While I minded Honey, quite a few people talked to me about her,  recogning her as Gaby’s dog, petting her and asking about Gaby’s whereabouts. Yeh, Gaby is well known, that’s for sure. And not just in Merrylands but also in a lot of other suburbs of Sydney. In her electrified wheelchair Gaby travels around a lot on trains, busses and taxis. Nearly every day she goes out on her own somewhere. A collection box sits on the table in front of her, also her mobile phone. She collects money for a charitable organisation.  Some people approach Gaby on a regular basis to give her a donation. Honey, being fastened to Gaby’s wheelchair, always makes the rounds with Gaby. So no wonder that Gaby is a well known identity in Sydney.

Gaby was born 1957 in Berlin and came to Australia before she was two years old. On her fourth birthday she became very ill. The doctor who saw her at home, said the measles were around. That Gaby could not move at all, did not seem to make him suspicious. Then we called another doctor who established immediately that Gaby indeed could not move at all and an ambulance was called to take her to the hospital. It turned out she was struck down by polio. So that was fifty years ago!  – – – – –

It is amazing, what a well adjusted person Gaby is. She loves to live and do all the things that are possible for her to do. She loves eating and collecting recipies, going out with people, talking to people. In the evening she spends time with facebook, but Friday nights and sometimes weekends too she likes to go out. Overall she seems to enjoy life and makes the most of it.  I think that makes able bodied people perhaps wonder about their lives when they  find it hard to get enjoyment out of their lives.


8 thoughts on “Going shopping with Gaby . . . .

  1. How sad that Gaby was stricken by polio at such a young age. How inspiring her story is! How is she related to you, if I may ask?

    1. Gaby is our first born daughter. She was born in Berlin in Germany. We had a second daughter in 1958 in Germany and then a son in 1960 in Wollongong, Australia. Our third daughter was born in 1978 in Wollongong, when Gaby was twenty-one and not living at home any more. However Gaby has a close relationship with all her family. She’s a very loving person and thinks very much of all her family.
      Gaby stayed in a hospital in Sydney for over six years.She got excellent care there. We took her home after that and looked after her by ourselves for six and a half years. During those years she went back to stay at the Sydney hospital for regular check-ups and to give us a respite. Gaby stayed home with us only till she turned seventeen. We could not look after her anymore from then on. However Gaby was fortunate in that she was always provided with the care she needed. And she never lost touch with her family!
      At nighttime Gaby needs to sleep in an Iron Longue. She has now done so for fifty years! After having lived in institutions for a number of years, Gaby was provided with a place of her own (rented from the Department of Housing). She has a carer living with her, who has been faithfully staying with her for over twenty years. She also has staff coming in on a set hourly basis to look after all her needs. Despite having a hoist, she needs two people to lift her out of her wheel-chair and onto the bed. One person alone is not allowed to do it because of the danger of back injuries.

  2. Polio is such a terrible disease….I know a few people who were struck by it at an early age, I guess before they were immunized against the virus. So sorry to hear about your daughters troubles Aunty Uta, but so good to know that she has people to help her. I’m sure it must be a tough life, but it’s wonderful to hear that she copes with it with such a zest for life! I wish her and you all the very best.

    1. That year, when Gaby should have been immunized the vaccine turned out to be faulty and had to be withdrawn. This was really bad luck for Gaby. As far as help is concerned, you can see from my next blog that help is forthcoming but sometimes it’s a horrendous struggle for Gaby. Thank you so much, Munira, for caring.

  3. Thanks for sharing an inspiring story. I know your struggle and at times it’s so painful, but seeing the happiness of our children is what moves us forward each day.

    1. Thanks for your reply. You are right, it’s so good to see our children happy. They may all be different. But we can love them all. The love they show us is enough reward no matter what the struggle may be at times.
      At the moment we are worried how Gaby’s going to manage with her Iron Lung in the future. After having used it for more than fifty years she’s supposed to give it up and use a modern respirator instead. Gaby insists the modern machine is not suitable for, but no-one wants to
      believe her. We are also worried about her live-in carer’s health. Right
      now he’s still in hospital.

  4. My, my—what an amazing journey you and Gaby have had. I shall continue to pray for her health, strength, living situation, and career. I am thrilled that she has a companion animal to help her, too. There is a lengthy, lengthy waiting period for companion animals here in the US as their training is so expensive and there is such a shortage.

    I shall pray for her respirator/Iron Lung situation too…i would imagine that the sensation of one is far different from the other and transitioning is difficult and panicky too. Thanks for your willingess to share and be so open.

    1. Here in Australia the training of companion dogs is very expensive too. I suppose Gaby is lucky that she was able to get Honey. She also owns a cat. Gaby loves her animals. They’re like her children.
      Thanks for commenting on the respirator/Iron Lung situation. You got it exactly right that the transitioning is difficult and panicky for Gaby. Her bodyshape may have something to do with this too.
      Thank you for visiting! And thanks for all your prayers!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s