So how has life been without the profession I so loved;nursing? Well i stayed with things medical, being a volunteer on various health scrutiny committees, health councils ,doing book reviews for the nursing magazines, writing articles for them and generally being involved with the community and the profession.
I was very lucky that I was asked to be on various boards, the local health authority, the police and the BBC, they have all appointed me to be an overseer of their performance, I have criticised them candidly ,and they seem to want more of me! But they did, i served on the BBC’s advisory Council and the Police’s independent advisory group for four years, and then it was me who asked to step down, I thought others should have a chance too. I ended up being the hospital governor for our local hospital. All this was done on a voluntary basis and was un paid. The UK has a very old and wonderful tradition of volunteering. people give up so much of their time and effort for their local and national organisations, they run soup kitchens, man charity shops , visit homes and generally support their public services and charities.
That is not the only difference between the culture of the country of my birth and my adopted country.
As an immigrant there is a lot you need to adjust, re learn and adopt. That is the only way to be happy, constantly hankering after the green grass of the home ,you have left behind is futile, that green grass has long been paved over and is a concrete jungle, progress has seen to that. A lot of us who have left the places of our birth behind, still carry the past images in our mind,that is our safety blanket, we cant let it go.
It has taken time and effort on my part too to be a part of the society I have migrated to. Some feel that you have to give up your culture and surrender your identity, in fact you don’t. You can pick and choose what you want, the British are known the world over for leaving people be. No one will ever force you or expect you to do anything you don’t want to. The only requirement is to try to understand their point of view too and make them understand what you are about. It has stood me in good stead anyway.
I grew up in a culture and believed that respecting and obeying your parents and elders, never to answer back, accept whatever they tell you,and though I had rebelled but still my parents were the wiser and the better, so it was quite hard to see my children developing a will of their own from the start. They were very bright from a very early age. I knew that I couldn’t, and I didn’t want to stifle their spirit,I wanted to nurture their independence, I nurtured their curiosity,their passions and encouraged them always to challenge and discuss any decision,and not just accept whatever their parents or the teachers say.
Something which was unacceptable to my Asian peers and family. They warned me of dire consequences, I was told that they will abandon us/me , that they dont have the family values they should and I will die a lonely old woman.
I think a lot of problems happen because we, the immigrants of my generation feel that the only way to bring up their children is to threaten them with hell fire if they do not love and obey and do as they are told.I feel that it brings a lot of strife.
So there I was, having left my career and waved good bye to my youngest child,as she left for university and medical school. it was like a bereavement. I suffered greatly with the empty nest syndrome as it is called. I couldn’t bring myself to go into their empty bedrooms,I learnt to use a computer so I could email them, I lived from day to day ,wanting to hear from them.
It is said,and is true that children are the buffers in a marriage. Even if there are differences you both immerse yourselves in your children, they are the middle ground. You also realise that for the last 18 years or so,you both have forgotten being a couple, you have just been mum and dad. Once the children leave home, you are faced with a stranger,or someone you once knew, part of a couple.
My husband had taken early retirement and he was working as Locum, or as a supply doctor in various parts of the country. He really enjoyed it, am glad that in the last years of his life he did what he really enjoyed doing. I on the other hand was quite lonely, by now my children were adult, they had their own friends and their own lives, I still heard from them regularly, they visited often and life was moving on .
When you are lonely,there is one part of the British society which is on the whole good,that is letting people be. No one interferes, they want people to have their “space”. No one will ever dream of interfering.
To be continued. I promise to write sooner this time!