Bathing Franky

If you get a chance, or maybe you will make a chance, to see this film go for it. On the weekend I was lucky enpough to see a viewing of this remarkale film in Maitland and got to meet the stars afterwards! what a treat. What impressed me was the omplex situations covered in such an interesting way form looking at being a full time carer for a frail aged mother to the issues of homosexuality and masculinity and prison this seems to have it all and adds humour as well

This excerpt from the Media Kit gives the story line:  A young man dealing with his troubled past, is captivated by the fanciful and surreal world of a wildly, irrepressible older man and his decrepit yet compelling mother  “With our imagination we make the world‟

When Steve (Shaun Goss) is released from prison, he is unable to connect with his girlfriend Susie (Bree Desborough), as he is still haunted by his relationship with a fellow inmate.

Taking a “meals-on-wheels‟ job, he meets Rodney (Henri Szeps), a wildly irrepressible older man, who is the full time carer for his invalid mother Franky (Maria Venuti) who, when not confined to a wheelchair, gets about on her modified ride-on lawn mower.

Rodney is a “backyard magician” who loves to fly kites, tap dance, tell stories, juggle and speak French and Italian! And he brings the same vaudevillian exuberance to the way he “cares” for his mother, Franky.

Rodney is torn between the love and the loyalty that he feels for his ailing and dependent mother on the one hand, and the desire to lead his own life.

Steve is captivated by the older pair‟s extravagant world of make-believe and a close friendship between the men develops.

The story deals with the issues of forgiveness, reconciliation and hope; and the double edged sword of imagination and fantasy as a means for dealing with the harsher aspects of life and reality.

It was challenging, complex, funny and covered many issues

That would have confronted many people‟s perceptions?

Viewer response, “Work-In-Progress‟ Screening

Dungog Film Festival

This gives just a birds-eye view of this deep and fascinating film

I’d love to hear your comments if you can view it

Joan McCarthy




Review of The J.M.Barrie Ladies’ Swimming Society

If you read the post ‘Books are Magical’ you will know I was reading The J.M. Barrie Ladies’ Swimming Society by Barbara J. Zitwer as I understood it to be a book about older women. I’ve now finished it and here’s what I think.

As interesting as the book is, I was a little disappointed that the main focus was on a young woman, Joey Rubin, and not on the older women, Aggie, Viv, Gala, Meg and Lilia, who meet daily to swim in an ice cold pool, are in my opinion far more interesting.

Joey (Josephine) is a New York architect who goes to the Cotswolds (England) to oversee the restoration of an old mansion where J.M.Barrie, author of Peter Pan spent time. The setting is delightful, the five older women fantastic, the caretaker and his daughter add another dimension to the story, but Joey got on my nerves a little as she had too much self doubt and negative thoughts. One of the older women was so grounded, wise, happy and full of life and gives Joey much well needed advice and support. Well that’s what we older women do isn’t it? So I must give the book a tick of approval for that and as it’s a page turner and has a happy ending (I like a happy ending) I say give it a go.

I hope the younger readers of the book don’t think that the older women swimming in ice cold water in the middle of winter is too far fetched, as we older women do all sorts of fantastic things, you just wait until you read our next book, Feisty Fearless and Free: Ageism Unmasked and be amazed at the things real life older women are doing!

Cheers, Maureen

Push the membrane of the possible

Brrrr 4 degrees! Yes, these mornings are too cold for my usual early morning swim and walk on the beach.

I know all you icebergers are out there and good on you but it’s not for me in the winter.
However while curling up by the fire is sooo tempting, my body still needs to move. So – what to do? Well I decided to ‘push the membrane of the possible’ as Jean Houston says, and got out the yoga mat and spent a bit of time doing some lovely stretches and not only did it warm me up but I feel so much more alive and the fluey cold that was chasing me seems to have given up. I had a choice – live winter in ‘serial monotony’ or get the energy moving and wow that energy is moving big time
What’s your favourite way of keeping active in the winter?”

Books are Magical

I believe that books are magical especially novels; they transport us into another world. I must have at least two novels on my bedside table, just to make sure that when the one I’m reading is finished there is another on hand. Reading is like an addiction, or maybe like sex, I sleep better afterwards. Speaking of which I do enjoy a good raunchy story with plenty of moist love making and a happy ending, however, I have eclectic taste and enjoy most well written books.

Novels about older women don’t seem to be as readily available as the romantic ones, I guess publishers feel the market is not there. I disagree of course as I’m sure you do. Older women like to read about characters with a similar life experience, wisdom, sexual experiences, problems and dilemmas as they have.

I have just read such a book lately by Liz Byrski called Last Chance Cafe. It’s a delightful book mainly about older women and addresses many social issues affecting women and girls. Liz says she wrote this book because she was annoyed that older women are being ignored. She has also just published a non fiction e book called Getting On – some thoughts on women and ageing. Sounds like she’s on the same wave length as Joan and I are! Our next book is a non fiction book about wonderful older women, and as soon as we get the OK to publish we’ll let you know about it.

I’ve just started another book (a real one, on paper) that promises to include older women called The J.M.Barrie Ladies’ Swimming Society by Barbara J. Zitwer. I’m only a little way into it as yet but it promises to deliver. I’ll post a comment when I’m finished reading it.

If you have read any good fiction or non fiction books about older women, we would love to hear from you, we’d be delighted  comment.

Happy reading. Maureen


Ageing parents and ageing us.

Each weekend I look forward to reading The Australian Newspaper’s insert, The Weekend Australian Magazine, I especially like Nikki Gemmell and Phillip Adams. I find both columnists inspiring and challenging.

In the June 02-03 edition there was an interesting article by Kate Legge, called “I want my Father to Die – Caring for ageing parents – the baby boomer’s burden.” In fact it featured on the front cover, no doubt to attract attention. Did you read it? If not here is a brief outline: Several women who were caring for one or both elderly parents said how difficult it is juggling their busy lives as well as doing their duty to their parents. Many were resentful, others felt it a responsibility and one found it ‘no burden at all’, however most found it stressful. An ABS, 2007 survey was quoted which said “women caring for frail or aged parents experience twice the strain of working mothers caring for a child under four.”

I can certainly identify with those women who are finding it stressful. When my mother died suddenly I took over the care of my father who two years previously had suffered a severe stroke, leaving him aphasic (unable to speak) and hemiplegic (paralysed on the right side). At this stage he was mobile, able to shower and dress with a little help. I voluntarily took on his care, moving him into my home, some 4000kms away, as not only did I believe it my duty but also because I loved him and really wanted to care for him. As well as his physical care, I also attended to his financial affairs and social life. It felt a bit like living two lives, his and mine. I am an only child and although my husband was emotionally supportive, all care was my responsibility. As he deteriorated and developed more ailments his care became more physically and emotionally demanding, I was sleep deprived, socially deprived and my whole life revolved around his care, as I tried to juggle my home, husband, children, grandchildren and friends. Yes I felt the stress of the constant care his condition needed even though he was a most appreciative and considerate patient. And yes, I admit sometimes I thought it would be a blessing for both of us if he died in his sleep. I developed chest pain, rapid heart rate and breathlessness and a diagnosis of angina was suggested and further tests organised. When I told my daughter and friend of my possible diagnosis they both said, “This can’t go on, something has to give.” Something did as that very evening my dad accidentally fell and fractured both his femur (thigh bone) and the socket where the thigh bone fits into the pelvis. He was admitted to hospital and after a week all my symptoms of angina disappeared. Even though I visited the hospital daily, Dad’s physical care was being taken care of by others and I had time to rest and recover. The following two years Dad spent in a nursing home became stressful for both him and me. I visited him regularly not only to comfort him but also to give and supervise his nursing care. After a painful deterioration he finally died.

My mother’s sudden and unexpected death seven years earlier had not only been heart wrenching, but I also felt cheated out of caring for her, as this was always my plan. But compared to the slow death my dad experienced, it was easier to cope with in the long run.

It has been five years since my Dad died and the memory of his suffering is still acute. I’m now starting to think about what will happen to me if my health deteriorates. I’m still very active and am doing all the right things to keep that way, but then so did my parents. My daughter assures me she will take care of me, no doubt for the same reasons I took care of my Dad. But I don’t want her to experience the stress all carers of elderly parents feel, or to feel resentful, guilty and overpowered by the care of her mother. Then again I don’t wish to cheat her out of what she said she wants to do. What a dilemma! A balance is needed. I feel relieving my children of my constant care (if I ever need it) is a better legacy than any money they will inherit.

So now is the time for me to make some decisions about how I am to be cared for if and when I become frail and feeble. This is a challenge as I don’t know what the future holds for both my husband and me, but what I do know is I don’t want my quality of life to interfere with the quality of life of my children.

So I have some hard thinking to do as I approach another stage of my life.

Both Joan and I would be interested to know your thoughts both about the stress of caring for an elderly parent/s and the prospect of needing care yourself.

Until next time, Maureen