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Caring Comes Full Circle at Galleon Gardens

An elderly resident and young carer, smiling

This National Carers Week, Bolton Clarke Galleon Gardens resident Doreen (Dawdie) and Activities Officer Mia are taking a trip down memory lane, exploring a 20-year-old caring connection.

It was a regular afternoon at the Galleon Gardens café when Dawdie got into a conversation about a little girl she used to know who lived two doors down from her at Burleigh Heads.

“I always remembered fondly that the father of the family had dreadlocks and a big beard,” Dawdie recalls.

“And for his 30th birthday party, which I was invited to, his mate gave him a haircut. It was the sweetest thing when his two-year-old saw him and kept saying “not my Daddy, not my Daddy!”

Mia, who was at the time making milkshakes in the café, explained that while listening to the story it all seemed very familiar.

“I was wondering how I knew the story so well, it was like I’d already heard it told somewhere before. That’s when I realised it was me Dawdie was talking about!” she laughs.

Mia showed Dawdie a photo of her parents, and sure enough the memories came flooding back. Dawdie lived at the address in Burleigh Heads for 40 years, describing the street as “very friendly and neighbourly”. Over that time, she babysat and many of the local children, including Mia, and shared her skills in gardening and as an award-winning cake decorator.

“Where we lived was right on the double highway and one day I saw these two children, one of them being Mia, going hand in hand down the road. I said ‘Oh, where are you going?’,” Dawdie explains.

“They said ‘to McDonald's!’, pointing across the highway. I asked them if I could go with them and when they said yes, I asked them to wait for me while I raced out the back door and tried to yell to Mia’s mum over the fence to come and get the kids before they tried to cross the double highway!”

Mia laughs and adds, “We were probably two or three and thought we were about to cross this double highway to go to McDonald's to get a soft serve. That's the first thing Mum said when I told her I had reconnected with Dawdie. She said, ‘That woman saved your life!’”

Dawdie babysat Mia over the four years they lived on the same street, until the family moved to Brisbane.

Then a few years ago, Mia decided to take a casual kitchen role in aged care – a move that made her initially nervous.

“We didn’t see my Grandparents regularly, so I hadn’t had much to do with older people - I didn’t know what to expect,” she says.

“But I started off doing tea and coffee, and while doing that I got to chat with everyone and have one on one time. I really loved it!”

She enjoyed the job so much she moved into an Activities Officer role, which is what brought her to Bolton Clarke two years ago. Now, she gives back to the residents of Galleon Gardens - including Dawdie, who cared for her in her early years.

Mia says her job “feels like being around family every day”. For Dawdie, seeing Mia brings back very fond memories of a much-loved community.

“I used to grow hydroponics along my garden fence and Mia used to come down to pick the tomatoes and the lettuce leaves to have for her lunch,” she says.

“My Dad is a landscaper, so I was always around gardens and Dawdie had such a beautiful garden – I think that’s why I was drawn to it,” Mia laughs. 

“We also had a mulberry tree, a mango tree and a money tree too,” Dawdie says. You used to just be able to see the kids’ legs behind the tree when they would pick the mulberries, and we’d sprinkle coins on the ground under the money tree for them to find – all the stuff you do for kids.”

“I could never get the stains out – I thought I was so smart lying to Mum and Dad about eating mulberries when all along I had purple stains around my mouth and hands,” Mia adds.

“You know,” Dawdie starts “you have to use the green mulberry leaves, it’s the only thing that removes the stains.” She nods knowingly, showing that she still has plenty left to teach Mia 20 years on. 

National Carers Week will run from Sunday 15 to Saturday 21 October 2023. It is a time to recognise, celebrate and raise awareness about the 2.65 million Australians who provide care and support to a family member or friend.

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