People of Ryde presents Richard Scenna
Published on 20 June 2020
When I was asked to write this, I felt inspired to write about the influence the older people in my life have had on me and my choice to work helping seniors stay connected via technology.
My nonna was such an influence on me. She showed incredible courage as a widowed mother of three arriving in Australia and speaking very little English. My mother was 13 when she travelled here with nonna. I can only imagine how truly daunting that long journey by ship would have been for both nonna and mum. While there were relatives here, the move could not have been easy. In fact mum shared her struggles with me over the years, before she passed away. My dad too travelled here as a teenager, speaking little English. He immediately set about putting his amazing work ethic to use for this new home. His work ethic is something that I’m proud my siblings and I have inherited.
As I’ve gotten older I’ve realised and appreciated how much I am a product of their stories. I’ve realised how resilient I am because I’ve been surrounded by resilient people. Resilience is a word that I never really understood, even though now it’s used a lot. It turns out I have seen it in practice from a very young age through my nonna, mum and dad, as well as the rich tapestry of aunts (zias) and uncles (zios) around me.
Two of my most life changing experiences are related to nonna and mum and their demonstration of absolute determination and grit. You see, I was in the room when my nonna passed away about ten years ago. She succumbed to old age and dementia having spent over five years in aged care and several years prior with declining health.
More recently, I was in the room when mum passed after bravely battling pancreatic cancer for three years. She was able to pass away at home, here in Ryde, with all of us around her.
Being with nonna when she passed away was an incredibly moving experience. Being in the room when mum passed was an even more spiritual experience. I can’t fully explain it, particularly in only a few words. But what I can say is that I have learnt that one of the most important gifts you can ever give is to be present... in the moment. Even when the moment is confronting.
Which brings me to what I do now. I now work with aged care and community organisations to support seniors to stay connected with their family, friends and community through the use of technology. I do this because of my experience with, and my respect and admiration for, the older people around me. Because they have cared for me, in turn I care for them.
It’s like my 25 year professional business career has perfectly fused with my 40-plus year life experience to champion the value our older generation deserves.
I am so passionate about how we can use technology to ensure we maintain the connection of our older generation… and I love my work.
Written by Richard Scenna