Donna Thomson recognizes that every caregiver will be thrown into a life they did not expect. Today, Donna is caregiver to her son Nicholas, who has severe cerebral palsy. She, too, lives a life that was different from what she had envisioned.
Her dream was to become an actor, and she actively pursued it in university and in her post-graduate work. “My fascination lay in giving voice to human stories – in locating metaphors that could transform deeply personal experiences into universal truths,” explains Donna. Even when she was pregnant with Nicholas, she continued working with a stage company. Art was, and still is, her passion.
“Then Nicholas was born and I became his mother, his nurse, his advocate, his champion, his therapist, his teacher, his translator, his researcher, his driver, his playmate, his comforter and his task master."
After the birth of her children, Donna focused all her energies towards looking after them, and her “dream of being an actor turned into a distant memory.” However, her desire to create and tell stories continued burning inside her. “It was like a small fire inside me – one I didn’t tend often, but that would spark sometimes when I imagined my day as a story I could write, changing endings as I pleased.”
Telling stories was an innate passion, and she found another avenue to do so: writing.
While Donna did not become an actor, she still “found [her] voice in writing.” Of course, all the other dreams that she had planned for life did not vanish; they are still a part of her, “like precious gems locked away in a bank vault.”
Even in everyday life, there are new stories to be told, new meanings to be uncovered. “I mine my own mundane, everyday life for meaning and find unpolished gems there. I turn them over and over till they sparkle,” says Donna in her own poetic voice.
Many caregivers eventually settle for the hand they have been dealt, and for Donna, “settling for did mean giving up on a dream, but it also meant discovering a new one.”
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