A journey with Parkinson’s, a lasting love, and some relative rhymes in between.
Margaret Samways, Parkinson’s Champion, has recently published a poetry book which provides a glimpse into her life.
Margaret’s diverse poems lead the reader down an insightful path lined with laughter and tears as she reflects on a variety of relatable topics. Her poems explore love, the vision of an artist, the ageing process, the challenges of battling a chronic disease and a farewell to a mother who was famous for getting her jokes the first time around.
Margaret’s book includes happy, sad, touching and introspective moments that remind others that this journey on Earth is meant to be lived fully and not without laughter and tears.
It was Anzac Day in 1990 when Margaret and her then husband and two children arrived reluctantly in Australia from Scotland. The family had not wanted to move, except for Margaret’s husband.
Retrospectively, Margaret believes the stress of that journey precipitated her diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease later that year. Margaret was 35 when diagnosed. She later left her husband when she realised she was attracted to women.
Margaret and Sally met around 2003, at a Women’s dinner. Sally recalls celebrating their commitment with a beautiful ceremony in 2006 under a big Moreton Bay Fig tree in a garden.
“We wrote the words ourselves and included some gay poetry and a song written and performed by Margaret’s son, Michael. All our friends came up and blessed us, one by one,” Sally said.
On the same day, Margaret’s son Andrew announced that his girlfriend was pregnant with their first child.
In 2009, Sally paid for Margaret to undergo Deep Brain Stimulation Surgery in an effort to relieve her Parkinson’s symptoms. Sally recalls how Margaret was brave enough to stay awake throughout the operation.
It made a big difference to her but two weeks later she fell and fractured her pelvis. It didn’t heal properly. In 2010, Margaret went into a nursing home, where she still resides after 10 years. But she’s planning to move to a house where she can be more independent.
In 2016, Margaret and Sally were able to celebrate the 10th anniversary of their commitment ceremony. Sally’s sister gave a speech accepting their relationship and accepting the loving couple into the family. A heartfelt gesture that still brings a tear to Sally’s eyes as she recalls how far marriage equality has come.
“Margaret and I feel the same way about the important things in life. We both love having grandchildren. Margaret started writing poetry so that she would have something in common with me, but she was the one who won first prize at a Poetry Slam.”
The advantages of having Parkinson’s disease:
- You can shake yourself dry after a swim
- When you put blood and bone on your garden, a little goes a long way
- You never get a dark bit at the bottom of your coffee
- Your cocktails are always shaken, not stirred
- You never get seasick
- You don’t need a vibrating chair to get a massage
- You can harvest your favourite fruit tree without climbing a ladder
- You can blow out all your birthday candles at once
- Your back scratcher works better than anybody else’s
- When you sing along at the opera, you have instant vibrato
When asked what it is that’s attracted Margaret to creative writing, she says simply that she enjoys writing poetry and that the experience is different for every different poem. She feels good about having her book published but is surprised by all the attention and positivity she’s been getting.
The name of the book Of Magpies and Kookaburras: Poems: Humorous and Poignant comes from the sounds that signal to Margaret that a restless, insomniac night is over.
Taking life seriously
I try to take life seriously
When I am working
But how can I be sure
That that is the right thing to do
When it seems obvious that the Creator Goddess
Has a sense of humour
The future is wide open for Margaret and Sally, Sally remarking that they would like to write more poems and also get a second novel published.
Sally is also focused on arranging some treatment for Margaret’s current health problems. Life is a creative adventure for the couple, with more painting and collages to come. Sally might also learn the piano or clarinet!
Margaret’s book Of Magpies and Kookaburras is available for purchase via THRF Group – Parkinson’s for $25, with Margaret and Sally donating $5 back to supporting THRF Group – Parkinson’s. Please contact Simone on 08 8357 8909 or [email protected] if you would like to order a copy.