Linda wants to live for a long time
Christchurch woman Linda Hider turned 70 in June, and she hopes to live for much longer.
Linda is raising two of her grandchildren – her son’s 12-year-old boy and 11-year-old daughter – and wants to be there for as long as they need her.
“My son passed away in 2018; he had bowel cancer. He was only 39 when he passed.
“I made a promise to him that I would look after the kids to the best of my ability and that is what I try to do,” she says. “I hope and pray that they will at least have the life skills they need for the way ahead.”
“Kids, nanny is going to hang around until you are able to stand on your own two feet.”
Hearing Linda talk, she sounds strong. She is strong. But not so long ago it was a different story. Not only were the children grieving the loss of their father, but Linda’s grandson was having rages and meltdowns and she was struggling to find the support he needed.
Working with IHC Family-Whanau Liaison in Christchurch, Linda was able to get a referral late last year for her grandson to see a paediatrician, who diagnosed an intellectual disability, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD).
“We knew there was something. We thought at first he may have been autistic because a lot of signs were heading in that direction.”
Linda says people looking on probably think her grandson is misbehaving. “It’s an invisible disability – you accept him for the way he is.”
She says the diagnosis has helped her to get more support through LifeLinks, HealthCare New Zealand and the Florence Nightingale Agency. Her grandson now has a support worker each school-day morning to help him get ready for school, and an additional 10 hours for after-school activities. He also has respite care every second weekend.
“It’s amazing. It’s taken a long time to get support and we have had to fight for everything we’ve got. Now we have got the support in place life has got a lot easier than it was two or three years ago.”
She knows too that there are other grandmothers and carers who have still to get the support they need. Linda has been working with IHC Family-Whānau Liaison to get a grandmothers’ support group going. There has been a lot of sadness in Linda’s life. Only three of her six children survive – two died very young – and her husband passed away when he was 48.
“But I have always had a policy – you are given what you need to learn life’s lessons.”
Linda has been diagnosed with a brain aneurysm and says she has been receiving a lot of prayer and help from her local church.
“I had my last MRI a month ago and my aneurysm is now healing itself. My faith means a lot to me, and the children are brought up in that environment.”
Linda quotes movie character Forrest Gump: ‘Life is like a box of chocolates; you never know what you’re gonna get’.
“Out of that comes, ‘I love you Nana’ from both. We have lots of downs – but we have a lot of ups as well. When you get a couple of little arms around your neck – that’s all you need,” she says.
“I am proud of what I have achieved, and I am proud of what the kids have achieved.”
Caption: Linda Hider gets up very early each day to find some quiet space for a cuppa.