The Lady Diaz

Maggie at Fannie's, Inkerman St 1989

Maggie at Fannie’s, Inkerman St 1989 G De Lacy © 2014

Last night, Maggie refused to attend her own birthday party.  To make it perfectly clear, she rejected the need to insert her ‘falsies’, apply her brows or do that stunning thing she used to do with lipstick and a mirror. Maggie Diaz has dementia.  She knows me, but she thinks I’m the photographer and that I run a newspaper.  When I show her scans or framed photographs on the wall, she can no longer recall the moment that she took them. Only a year ago, she was still able to give commentary on ALL of her images – even if she couldn’t recall eating lunch.

Friendship is not over.  Connection is not dead.  She lives between two worlds, but what’s strange is that it feels like we’ve already said our fond farewells – many times.

As it happens, a few party goers and I, gradually lured MD into Graze on Grey for a cocktail.  Once again, she was in her element – surrounded by her own photographs and flirting with the only two men at the table.  But the most joyful moment for me, was when she spied Kristy – a gorgeous young woman, who recently purchased a Diaz print as a surprise for her boyfriend.  MD took one look at her and “shot her quick”.  She didn’t need a camera – she just knew what she was looking for and expressed that clearly.  Everyone saw it happen and it was delightful.

As we wheeled Maggie back to her room, she seemed happy and ready for bed – no longer agitated.

Sometimes her irritation is purely physical – it’s like she wants to get out of her chair, but doesn’t know where she wants to go.  Sometimes it’s like she’s stirred by incomplete thoughts and memories that cause her to want to pace and wander.  The staff tell me that it’s after my visits that she usually heads for the gate.  I hope that tonight she won’t be left with the same inclination.  We all feel it as we hover around her room, guilty to be creating so much excitement, only to be leaving her in complete silence.  Happily she waves us off – relieved to be finally tucked up in bed, surrounded by the most beautiful birthday tulips and roses – in reds, pinks and yellows.

Thank you to everyone who came along and to our consummate hosts Neil Perch and Mohammad Ahmat at Graze on Grey.  The Lady Diaz never tasted so good!

Extra special thanks to Trudy Schuringa for recording the event – please enjoy a selection of images by Trudy below.

Maggie sips a Lady Diaz with Kristy watching on... By Trudy Schuringa © 2014

Maggie sips a Lady Diaz with Kristy watching on…
By Trudy Schuringa
© 2014

Maggie's 89th birthday 16

Our photographer, Trudy Schuringa – laughing because Maggie is making Brent blush!

Maggie's 89th birthday 6 Maggie's 89th birthday 8 Maggie's 89th birthday 9 Maggie's 89th birthday 10 Maggie's 89th birthday 13Maggie at the tableMaggie and allMaggie and wendyMaggie and Gabrielle  Maggie's 89th birthday

All images above by Trudy Schuringa Photography © 2014

All images above by Trudy Schuringa Photography © 2014

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17 Responses to “The Lady Diaz”

  1. Maggie Belbin Augustin Says:

    Thank you Gwen…for bringing me along on Maggie’s journey. Happy Birthday Maggie. Wishing you love and peace from (very cold) Chicago!

  2. My sister is a fiesty old broad. She’s still got a lot of Reid in her even if she won’t admit it…God Bless Brother Art Reid

  3. Despite hardly ever seeing it, Maggie (Reid) Diaz is actually a “Reid” who until a couple years ago had three brothers. Two have passed away so there is just Maggie and myself. Art Reid

  4. Reagan Reid Says:

    It so wonderful to read these updates here and on Facebook. I am so very proud that Maggie is my Auntie. Much love and lolomas vei Fiji!

  5. A beautiful and poignant post, also a great tribute to a fascinating women. Thank you so much for writing this, and for sharing the photographs – Helen

  6. Marika Fengler Says:

    That is beautiful Gwen. Thank-you for sharing.

    *Marika **Fengler* Communications Coordinator

    http://www.sacredheartmission.org *T: *(03) 9536 8498*M: *0424 137 763 *E: *mfengler@sacredheartmission.org

  7. David Roberts Says:

    Hi Gwen,

    Your story about Maggie is touching and tinged with the sadness of the losses that dementia brings. Kate and wish we could have been at the party but were obligated that evening.

    Our thoughts are with you and Maggie. You are both beautiful people.

    With kind regards,

    David _____________________ David Roberts Photographer http://www.camerawork.com.au +61 (0)424 164 711

  8. Beautiful post Gwen, made me teary.
    I so wanted to come but had a house full of sick kids. I’m glad you coaxed her out though falsies or not.

  9. Gabrielle Dewan Says:

    Hi Gwen, thank you for organising Maggie’s birthday once again. And also the great photos, we will all treasure them. It was a great night and Maggie seemed to be enjoying it as well. You are right, just having her friends around her and feeling their love and energy would be so uplifting for Maggie.

    I’m at home today, decided to take a day off work which I rarely do as I had a mild headache all yesterday, took a panadol during the evening and still woke up with it, and I have 2 tiny lumps on the white of my eye and it is a little red so I want to get that checked today.

    Thank you for putting my picture up in Maggie’s room, that was delightful to walk in and see my younger self, and recall the days when Maggie and I spent a lot of time together. There were years when I did not see her, when I was travelling at age 19 for a year and half, when I returned she took that photo that is in her room now, and then living in Sydney at age 29 or 30 for a few years, (flights were expensive in those days so I did not visit Melbourne) and then before I left for the USA Maggie came to my parents place where I was staying and that weekend we took the colour photos in my parents back garden – I gave you a copy of picture I took of Maggie. And then I moved to USA for a couple of years. But we would always meet up when I returned to Melbourne and it was like no time had passed. She would make some comment like l “where have you been stranger” or “well, well, well look who’s here” Or something like that, but it was like no time had passed and we would resume our conversations and go and visit galleries, or visit Valda in Seaford (who I have called but not answer to the number ) or go for walks along Elwood Beach. Mag has been such a strong influence in my life, (as she has with you as well and many others) from very early on when I worked with her at age 17, (it is about 43 years we have been friends).

    Can I purchase that framed photo, the frame and everything is perfect, or let me know how I can arrange to purchase a copy.

    Also any idea on how much a decent 2nd hand wheel chair might cost? As your back is not good and I have a problem knee and am not meant to walk too much or do weight bearing exercise – all the more important for us to get a decent chair so we can take her out and not damage ours selves in the process. Is there any funds that could be used from sale of her pictures etc., I could also put in some money.

    Love Gabrielle

  10. I was in Indianapolis as a child and my brother Tom brought me to a Blackstone presentation. I came a day early and was greeted by an older man who took me around the stage and showed me everything. The following day my parents and I attended his show where I sat in the front row. I was called to the stage where myself and another kid placed our hands on each side of a small bird cage with a bird inside. The man stomped his foot and both the bird and cage disappeared. I then realized that the old man I had met the previous day was the one and only “Blackstone”. Next to shaking Roy Rogers hand those were the two most remembered highlights of my youth. Art Reid, Maggie’s brother.

  11. Barb Glenn Says:

    Thanks for giving me your card at Karens birthday. I have read it all and have been fascinated by your involvement in the life of Lady Diaz. I heard you talking about it all across the table. It was lovely to reconnect with you and to discover your passion to this lady. So many people have appreciated your being.
    till next time Barb Glenn

    • Dear Barb,
      Thank you so much for checking out the Diaz Collection, for your kinds words and encouragement! I’ll pop you on my list, but if you subscribe to this blog, you’ll automatically get updates when they happen. I look forward to staying in touch with you. Best regards, Gwen

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