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Andrew Pollock


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Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Day 57: UnderWater World (now known as Sea Life: Mooloolaba)

My late biological maternal grandmother ("Nana"), remarried late in her life to a long-time friend named Bryce. I was probably an early teenager. He was a nice guy, and I kept in loose contact with him after my Nana passed away.

After my Nana passed away, he moved out of the retirement home he'd been living in with my Nana, and in with one of his sons. Sometime before I moved back to Australia, in ailing physical health, he moved from his son's place into Masonic Care's aged-care hostel in Sandgate.

He turned 90 last year. Mentally, he's doing pretty good. Physically, he's very wobbly on his legs. He's had a few falls, which was the main catalyst for moving from his son's place to the aged-care hostel. Other than that, he's in pretty good physical health though.

I remember the first time I visited him in the hostel. After I left, I wept uncontrollably. Here was a man who was literally just waiting out the rest of his life in a small cupboard of a room. I was appalled at how small the room was, and the fact that he was just sitting around waiting to die really upset me.

I've visited him a few times since I've been back. I've taken him over to my parent's place when I've taken Zoe to visit them, just so he gets out.

I should say that I'm sure his own family do spend some time with him, so it's not like he's spending all his time rotting in this place, but probably still a fair chunk of it. Growing old sucks.

Yesterday, when the weather forecast for today was looking like it was going to be pretty wet and miserable, I decided I'd use the day to take Zoe to Underwater World (which I've since learned has rebranded it self as "Sea Life: Mooloolaba".

I had the presence of mind to call up Bryce yesterday to see if he'd like to join us today. We had to pass in his general direction to get up there, so it wasn't particularly out of my way. He informed me that he was now in a wheelchair, which I thought was fine for this excursion.

So this morning, after we got ourselves going, we stopped at Sandgate to pick up Bryce, and made it to Underwater World by about 10am. I was a bit leery of the drive, because from home, it was another 30 minutes on top of the drive to Wet and Wild, and 15 minutes on top of the drive to Sea World, so I wasn't sure how Zoe would take that length car trip.

It turned out that she took it pretty well. She started getting a bit restless in the last 30 minutes, but it was manageable.

I was a little apprehensive about how wrangling Zoe and looking after a frail 90 year old in a wheelchair was going to work out. It turned out it worked out just fine. I could leave Bryce wherever he was, if I had to chase after Zoe, and Zoe quite liked helping push the wheelchair around. Towards the end of the day, when she got tired, I could just pop her in Bryce's lap, and push the pair of them around.

It was a really good outing. I have only vague memories of visiting the place in my childhood, and it's become significantly better since then. Zoe really enjoyed going through the glass tunnels under the main ocean exhibit. We did several laps of that. We were fortunate enough to catch the sting ray feeding almost immediately upon arrival, and we also saw the seal show and made the otter feeding. The place was more focused on salt water aquatic life, hence the name, but there was also some freshwater exhibits.

I never thought that much of the Monterey Aquarium, much preferring the California Academy of Science's aquariums, especially in terms of drive time accessibility. If you ignore the freshwater/salt water diversity, I think Sea Life is even better than the California Academy of Sciences.

We left at about 2pm, and after a lot of hunting around, tracked down the photo they took when we entered, and then drove home closer to 3pm. To my surprise, Zoe didn't fall asleep immediately, but she did fall asleep on the way back to Bryce's place. She woke up to say goodbye to him, and then we drove home, stopping off in the Valley to check my post office box along the way, and arrived back home about 15 minutes before Sarah arrived to pick her up. It ended up being a very full day.

Bryce really enjoyed himself, and I felt really happy that I was able to relatively easily brighten up his day. I've resolved to try another such outing again, I just need to figure out what to do.

I thought I'd try for a 10km run, but it started to rain at the 4km mark. I was also not feeling particularly confident about lasting the distance, so I decided to just turn it into a 5km run instead.

[05:26] [life] [permalink]