Wednesday, December 31, 2008
we would all (4) play SCRABBLE....MACKAY rules which meant that if anyone was stupid enough to leave the table it was open slather to cheat (very character building)
This year I WON... big time and fair...no cheating...but every time Alison tried to think I guzzled my bottle of water...a bit off putting........ for Ali who is 'sensitive'
Melissa and Alison tried revenge but outclassed... I had already won.
And I knew I won honest and true...
Melissa was unsure and used a calculator...but I still won!
Sunday, December 21, 2008
Every Christmas for almost all of the time the four of us had together the girls would try and dress in matching or opposite dress up for Christmas...often home made.
We have so many photos taken (by tripod) of the four of us in our Christmas finery.
Years ago when both our mums and Don's lovely sister Judy were still alive sometimes there would be over 16 people in the house, often all sleeping where they could...of later years the numbers got fewer...
We chose then just to have us four for Christmas, because she would need to rest during the day often and we structured the day around her energy levels. I still remember her resting in bed and Don going in, tipping the electric wheelchair back to a lying position and keeping her company till she was well enough to reemerge.
I was so lucky to have so much time with a man who "understood"... life the universe and a bit more.
This year for the first time since 1982 I won't be having Christmas in our home. This time it will be Melissa's turn to puck up that baton... stupidly I didn't put decorations up because i will be away over Christmas...next year I will...I didn't think it would make a difference. I even lent last years Christmas tree out (its a real one in a pot - Norfolk Island Pine). I have been so bloody miserable because there hasn't been a build up...go figure that. I loved our little Christmases...with piles of prawns from just up the coast, and salads, and lots of silly pressies...but the thing is we all realise that Don held the floor at Christmas...he would have us laughing and being as silly as cut snakes, breaking all the rules... as we said in chorus "There's no rules"
I'll be away for a week and hope to do the rounds before I leave tomorrow morning...if i don't have a happy safe Christmas and break all the rules okay; be silly as a cut snake, whatever strikes your fancy. I will be with Melissa and Alison and Melissa's new husband's family so wish me luck. But I somehow feel that where the three of us are, some part of Don will be there also.
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
..tried hard to find the one called "The Stomp" by Little Pattie...but found this from Daddy Cool...think I may have posted one of theirs way back...but still worth a listen... I thought these blokes were great... The Eagle rock is my favourite somehow it reminds me of long summers, a little of the dreaded weed...not much and all organic... and Don out on his surfboard ...a lone surfer on his longboard...he knew where the isolated beaches all were... good memories
Friday, December 12, 2008
I listened to this the other day driving into town..always loved this...there was something gentle about the singing....How the Pommies fooled the Australians about World War 1. They were shameless in their betrayal ...lest we Australians forget the lack of respect that the big powers in this world hold us in.
Today my youngest sent this to me via You Tube. It broke my heart in a healing sort of way if that makes sense.
The day after Don died at our home last May there was the most incredible sunset. Ali and Andrew stood at the slip rails looking towards the setting sun and Melissa came out with the camera and took all these shots. Today Ali apologised because they were not as clear as the original photos. She needed not to apologise. her favourite childhood tune was the Garfunkel song "Bright Eyes" and she put it with the photos, a few thoughts and the Superb Blue Fairy Wren photo I had emailed her. She knew how special these birds ere to Don...her dad. I still remember her standing out there away from the hubbub inside the house looking to the skies...mourning her wonderful dad...her and Melissa are struggling still as I am because of the nature of the killing and death as opposed to just death. So when she sent me this today...I lost the plot...but thats okay...
Thursday, December 11, 2008
What was amazing was that out of the ten photos i tried when i got this one, he sat for the longest time looking in at me through the window, for all the world looking like he was posing...
These little birds didn't come last year but were there the year before...
Then I lost the cat only to find her atop this bit of furniture... Hmmm... will have to make sure she has company and a big bell round her neck till the little birds finish up...If she goes for a magpie or galah she'll be the one running which might be a good lesson
Friday, December 05, 2008
She has had a rough beginning being dumped with a full litter of kittens about 6 years ago. They were all found homes but she was to be put down.
Then an old couple saved her and cared for her> She is very quiet and gentle and so much like my old cat in nature, who died Feb 2007, that its uncanny.
The old lady developed dementia and her husband became ill so they went into a nursing home and as it is in our compassionate society even their little cat was stripped away from them.
Again she was on death row, till she was rescued by people who do this and made a special effort to find this little one a home.
Through a friend of a friend and here she is.
The house feels so different now there is another living being here. I was just too lonely after my dog Thorn died...
both of us needed each other.
Monday, December 01, 2008
The difference between a contrail and chemtrail is that contrails dissipate and leave only a small trail but these buggers go right across the sky and depending on wind they hang like mares tails...in time all joining up so what was a bright sunny sky becomes a dirty murky sky. For my Australian blog mates type in Chemtrails Australia or anything with the word in and you will see pictures of skies you will not believe. I know its true because our area seems to be hit so often. People need to look up and those older of us need to think about how blue the sky was when we were kids...it was total blue...now it appears as a washed out version. The authorities admit some of the spraying but say its weather modification - they have no right to modify the weather because they wouldn't have a bloody clue what the long term affects on the planet and our health will be with their mucking about. Gaaah! They make me bloody mad.
Friday, November 28, 2008
1. Five names you go by:
e. Mrs Apple cart or Mrs apple tart
2.Three things you are wearing right now:
b. a men's nightshirt very practical)
c. bright pink slip on slippers - not the ones I fell over with...
3.Two things you want very badly at the moment:
a. peace of heart
4. Three people who will probably fill this out:
a. Not good at tagging.
c. None at all
5. Two things you did last night:
a. Wrapped some ridiculous Christmas presents that only I will like..
b. Watched re runs of the Sopranos.
6. Two things you ate today:
a. Thin rice cakes with real butter and slathered with Vegemite (can't get enough)
b. A corn Wrap with nothing but Nimbin cheese in it - that was tea(dinner)
7. Two people you last talked to on the phone:
a. My eldest daughter
b. My youngest daughter
8. Two things you are going to do tomorrow:
a. Its almost 5am now..I might try for an hour's sleep before I have to get going.
b. Better get some decent groceries...I forget sometimes.
9. Two longest car rides:
a. Newcastle (Australia) to Cairns in a car we got from the wreckers for $142 ...in 1972
b. Newcastle (again) to a little place called Wethalie out near Hay NSW.
10. Two of your favorite beverages:
a. Rain water
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
I remembered seeing an interview with the singer about 15 years ago and he was asked why he sand these songs (the love ones and others) with his eyes shut and he replied something like that he wouldn't be able to sing these songs with his eyes open, that when he sang them his eyes closed - words to that effect. It just stayed with me because thats how I like to listen to the really touching music...the stuff that opens your heart and lets the warmth go in... not good driving music.
Sunday, November 16, 2008
This middle aged poore olde worlde lady is going to take a tad more care...
Lucky to be in one piece - or is that pieces
And I have thrown out my walk in slippers...they are a DEATH TRAP.
My good friend Carmel broke both her legs when she tripped on almost identical slippers a few years back and spent the next few months on a walking frame...not a good look!
I remembered her many warnings on Saturday morning as I fell face down onto the concrete...in a strangely slow motion...Almost like the empire state building would topple...plenty of time to think..."better fall on your hands than break your knee caps!".. it crossed my mind as i fell that if bones broke...although sadly there no longer was a dear old doggie to lick my face, and then consider me for food as time wore on...that nobody might find me till the ants and snakes had their way...
So smash down I went hard, and I mean hard. I laid there in shock for some moments taking stock...Very sore, feet okay, legs okay, ribs okay, arms and hands okay and nose still unbroken and no breaks...
I looked like this photo when Ii was falling but instead of a smile no doubt the mouth was a big 'O' of horror...the hair looks about right...glad I didn't fall where this was taken...its blue metal gravel!!! Hurties.
...and bugger me blue, but didn't I then stumble up into the house (we live on a big mound because of the flood zoning...) and slip hard down on one knee on a bit of mopped up lino...beejesus...
"Should i change that blown light bulb? I don't think so." That would be tempting fate and fate was not being kind to me .
So now when I try to get a shoe on that foot or walk with some semblance of youth and vigour...its an odd sight...ahhhs soooo sore... Sob!
So Sunday evening...all's right with the world...could have been much worse...very sore...NEED LOTS OF SYMPATHY!!!
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
Melissa (eldest) and Alison (youngest) both have birthdays lose to each other in September/October. I found these wonderful ceramic tiles with four owls on them (thats not all I gave them). The four owls have significance in our family, so when I was walking down the street and saw these I had to get one each for them,
In the early '80's Don bought for lead crystal owls...a mum and dad and two littlies. He was almost superstitious about those owls and made sure that the parent owls were always arranged around the babies. - It was like a "protection" wish for the girls. One time one of the owls got a bit broken so it was sent away to be fixed - to Germany no less. When it returned in perfect condition Don was really happy...
Both of them were over the moon when they realised what was on the tile. we're all a bit sentimental about stuff like this which means all our homes are full of things like this which have meaning to us... its not the objects themselves... we know that... its what they represent. And no doubt if it was all lost to us but we were still okay we'd survive...
But its nice to know that the same feeling of family that my mum and dad and grandparents had lives on in these two who God willing, will pass the same onto their own kids... I have to hope that there are a lot of these sorts of kids about and if there is...then the world will go on turning, and earth will still be a good place to live... in spite of all the crap those in power are thrashing us with.
I hadn't realised till i saw the bottom photo that Alison's Andrew's big feet were so obvious... he was worn out from all the present opening...
Oh and yes the green and white VW Kombi (money box) is almost identical to the kombi we had for over twenty years..and wish i still had.
Tuesday, November 04, 2008
My book editor encouraged me to do a small chapter on who Don was so as to break up the medical stuff. It was hard to do but glad its done.till needs some editing but some of you might be interested at this snapshot of Australians circa 1950 - and on...
"I would like to have the luxury of filling a whole book with what Don was like, because the time between his birth on 4th July 1950 and his reluctant admittance to Royal North Shore Hospital on 11th April 2007 was his life. It was a full and rich life filled with laughter and much devilment. He was not that five week period which gripped him so mercilessly and sucked his lungs to collapse like two plastic bags because the Cardiothoracic Surgeon and his team stuffed up.
Sometimes, at home, in the middle of the night I would hear him softly singing Joe Cocker’s “You are so beautiful to me” softly over and over. How do you ever cope with losing someone who loved you like that? Maybe in the night he was awake with pain and just checking if I was awake, which I had to be by the end of the few lines he knew but more often than not he just sang it. Someone able bodied, who could turn over in the night and hold you couldn’t have held me as beautifully and with as much love as Don did with his singing and other things. It was a way of being close in the dark. He didn’t want anything for himself, all he ever worked for and wanted was always for the girls and I and other people. Through that he drew pleasure. I was always beautiful to Don and he to me.
Don told me a few times, about the time when he was about three or four and saw a pure white horse standing outside his home a long way from the house. He called his mum to come and see this wonderful horse but she wouldn’t come. He ran back to the door and saw that the horse had come closer to him and was looking right at him. Again he ran back to his mother begging her to come and see the white horse just outside their place. She was busy. In a panic he ran back to the door again and the horse had come quite close to the yard and was looking right at him. Being a little boy he wanted to show his Mum this wonderful thing. Finally she went with him to the door but it was no where to be seen, and he knew that she didn’t believe him. He was a little boy, born in 1950 and to the day he died he would tell me, 'That horse was really there and it was looking right at me.' It stayed with him, throughout the half century to follow.
Something really wonderful happened to this little boy in a small town now called Old Adaminaby, down in the Snowy Mountains. That little boy who carried the memory of the white horse till death was the youngest of four children. There was Jeanette [Tet], Judy and Ian, and then Don. He he was born in Moree and was to have a most unusual childhood, which no doubt equipped him well for life. When he was a baby the whole family moved down to the Snowy Mountains because his dad worked for a construction company during the construction of the Snowy River Scheme.
Don’s first memories were of many men from different countries painstakingly teaching him to swear in many different languages and telling him to go and repeat at home to his parents. These men were mostly refugees from war torn Europe, many of them having left family behind. They came from many different countries and cultures. For years Don would use the term Scheiser [pop or hausen] but he never remembered the meaning… Scheiserhausen is “shit house’ in German. I may have the spelling wrong as I only found this out after Don’s death.
Don and his brother and sisters all remembered this time as a magic time of wandering the hills freely, so freely that once they got totally lost. Don was only four and he told me that the whole Snowy Mountains camp stopped work to look for them. His brother Ian said at Don’s funeral, “Those six years probably formed Don into the person he became in later years. The things that we got up to, as kids would have sent you to a home of some sort or other these days. It included, the four of us setting out for a bike ride of a lifetime, ending up in a pigsty at the original dam site, with a raging fire that could have burnt an average National park. Someone volunteered me to get Mum and Dad (Tet I’m sure) in a raging stormy freezing cold on a 10 mile ride in the dark. Mum & Dad chastised severely the three eldest – me included. “What were you thinking taking this young baby out in this weather”? As quick as, Tet said “Mum at least he is warm and dry and he is not a baby he is four years old.”
Two hours before Don died, this brother arrived at the house. He was Don’s last remaining sibling. He made a comment about ‘the shooting” and Don’s wasted face just lit up with happiness. Don couldn’t talk but Ian said later, “Don and I were shooting tadpoles and frogs in a creek near home. I had just shot a frog and Don said give me a shot. I gave him the slug gun and he said to me “see how you like it” and promptly shot me in the foot. That was the start of his greenie attitude. Not content with the foot shooting when we got home he reloaded the slug gun and chased me around the house.” What Ian doesn’t say is that Don told me Ian ran like a mongrel dog, as you would do with a loaded slug gun cocked and ready to fire. Don said that the time down at the Snowy was one of the best memories of childhood and a really great place to grow up as a child.
The family moved after this to Swansea which was where Don developed a lifelong love of the beach. He could swim like a fish and surf on a long board. Like a lot of the older surfers he used to laugh at the short boards the kids use these days and call them “cripple boards”. No pun intended. Don became a “super star” at Soccer in the under 14’s and was remembered for kicking a goal for the other team. Ah well always a darn rebel. He had a horse called Taffy and was heart broken when he found his horse dead in a paddock. Dogs, horses and birds especially; Don had a great and deep love for the animal kingdom, human beings included.
From there the family fragmented as happens when kids grow up. Don and his mum and dad moved to Port Hedland in West Australia, again with the construction company. Don loved Port Hedland. He was a young teenager and had a rich life. He fell in love with a special girl called Judy when they were about 14. He fell in love with fast cars. He learned how to pull them apart, and put them back together again. He survived a few rollovers and smashes but because of this ‘practice’ he became a really good driver. One of his happiest memories was of playing soccer on the beach after work with the Thursday Islanders who worked for the mining company. Don could not speak highly enough of these men. He often said to me that no matter what happened, no matter how hot the day was, or how hard the work, they smiled and laughed and were the happiest people he had ever met. I would watch Don’s face when he spoke about all of this and he created a wonderful tapestry which I still see.
Then sadly his dad died from cancer and aged fifteen Don was alone with him when he died in 1966. Don and his mum returned to the eastern states. Aged sixteen he was basically on his own financially, and in every other way. He headed to Blackwater mines 400-500 kilometres west of Rockhampton in Queensland. He worked in “Stores”, learned how to live life in the present. It was this quality which Don and I recognised in each other.
His sister Jude married her soul mate, Buddy, and lost him in a car accident in 1965.His beloved eldest sister Jeanette had married Jack Holmes and had a son Phillip. In 1969, when Phillip was only four and Jeanette was heavily pregnant a drunk driver hit their car near the town of Woodburn. They were all killed. Don missed his sister till the day he died. After his mum died in 1997 I remember don becoming terribly distressed over Jeanette's death. i believe he felt him Mum and the home were his last like with her. It was her and Jude’s photo he looked at so often towards the end of life while in RNSH.
When I consider the grief he would have been dealing with and his aloneness, I can’t imagine what it was in him that still had him smiling easily. The family that was once so secure had to be so messed up after all this. Don was young by today’s standards to be so alone in the world. Understandably his poor mum was just battling to maintain her own sanity after losing husband, daughter, two sons in law, a grandchild and a little one close to birth in about three years. . As I grow older and understand more, it is to this family’s credit that they did as well as they did. My own dad was killed in 1969 and I know how that one death rocked our family. I know for Don that there was damage done, but there was nothing self pitying in him and he just turned his face to the sun, literally and lived. That was the bravery inside Don which stood him in such good stead in the years ahead.
We met in Newcastle, in the old Star hotel in Hunter Street in 1972 and joined forces about three weeks after that meeting. It felt lovely like a sigh, a sense of coming back home. He was so familiar to me and I can’t explain this. In 1974 Melissa was born and Don’s boss offered us the use of a large caravan to use so that Don would not want to come home each weekend to be with his us and could spend months moving around NSW working. Being close and being with family was always a major drive with Don. He craved that intimacy and surety of home and love. That suited me. I was like that also. I think we were both a bit wounded, and having both come from families that didn’t neatly slot into the tidy niches of Australian life in the 50’s and 60’s we recognised on some level the same attitudes and values. This isn’t to say that it was plain sailing between Don and I. We were both passionate about our feelings and beliefs and there were some really fiery exchanges, even in later years. I wouldn’t have had it any other way.
This was a wonderful 18 months and there were few areas we did not get to spend time within New South Wales. Blayney in winter in an uninsulated caravan was an experience. Opening the van door at the tick gates and seeing our red kelpie, called imaginatively, Red, slithering around in the beetroot which had fallen out of the fridge, because someone had forgotten to put the pin in the fridge door was another. Port Macquarie was one of the towns we worked in and Don was offered work from Gordon Hunt should he ever move here so in late ’76 we moved to Port Macquarie. Alison was born in 1977 and our little family was complete.
We lived in a small house just past Sea Acres near Johnson’s Fruit shop, which cost $12 a week rent. Here we were home. Chooks, ducks, a dog called Boris, cats – (Don was never too keen on these creatures) and Lucky, Don’s horse; two happy little girls and little money made this a happy home for us. Don worked on building sites and drove a backhoe and truck and was able to turn his hand to most things he tried. Apart from my own dad, few men come up to this capability. He never thought he couldn’t do things. He just seem to be able to figure out how things were meant to work, meant to be out together and away he went. I miss this.
We married in October 1979 because Melissa was about to start school and I wanted the whole family to have the same last name, as simple as that. It was a wild wild rambunctious wedding, which I have written about elsewhere and been paid for the story, it was such a good yarn.
Then one golden day in January 1982 a day I recall feeling as if the Gods were smiling on me…two lovely healthy daughters, a husband who loved us and who I loved to distraction, a little house - all of it, Don broke his neck on that first day back at work after Christmas . He became a quadriplegic and spent a seven-month stay at Royal North Shore Hospital (Sydney). We three, Melissa, Alison and myself, moved for that period; living near the hospital, with my sister Veronica. After seven months we came back home, to a different home. Our lovely little home with its ducks and chooks, cats and dogs had stairs…the new place didn’t. For years I would dream vivid dreams about this place and in my mind even now I feel its tucked away where the angels are taking care of it for us.
After a settling period, Don and I became involved in issues in which we believed passionately. He lobbied Council in the ‘80’s for better wheelchair access and struck a deal with them that he would go halves in the cost of construction of wheelchair access on major access points around the CBD. The gormless council shocked me by actually accepting $7,000 from a disabled man. He just needed to be able to get about and do business in town and accepted that everything had its price especially if you are unable to walk and need to do business and get about.
In the early ‘90’s he manned the RSPCA phone and was passionate about his commitment to this. Although it’s a well known fact Don was not a great cat lover, he abhorred cruelty of any sort and would too often be upset by the callousness of human beings to their pets and livestock.
His mother died in 1997. He not only looked out for his mother’s needs but also my mother and was always quick to see when others were had difficulties. He had a great compassion for others who were suffering illness or other. When his beautiful sister Judy was dying in Queensland in 1998 he and I spent the last three months with her, only leaving a few days before she passed away. This was a special time and he spent many days just quietly sitting by his sister’s bedside talking and laughing about family.
Don believed ardently in the right of the individual to freedom of choice on issues regarding Fluoridation, and other and it is well known he did not suffer fools gladly. He was very active in the fight against the privatisation of Port Macquarie Hospital and he worked for years tirelessly to have the hospital returned to public hands. Unfortunately he was stuck in bed on the day the Hospital Action Group had its celebration outside the hospital grounds, once again relegated to the sidelines, when the hospital was finally handed back to the people of NSW in 2004, but he spent that morning harassing the local media, as was his wont, into speaking with the Hospital Action Group who were there from the beginning of the fight in early 1992.
Our good friend Alan who proudly claimed to be “camp as a row of tents but celibate since they discovered Aids” stuck with Don after his accident, when all the work mates dropped away, sadly only making their presence at his funeral. This long time family friend died about two years before Don. Men had real trouble dealing with Don’s condition, but Alan and Don spent many an hour arguing back and forth on the phone, swearing away at each other and talking about everything. Don used to pretend that he didn’t want to talk with him sometimes when he rang, but when Alan died, we were both heartbroken.
We moved out of Port Macquarie to our own “Craggy Island” in early 2004. The sense of peace and beauty we both felt the first day we saw this place is still here with us and for me it is the essence of Don. I feel so safe here, amongst the birds and trees Don loved so much.
Becoming a Quadriplegic was bad enough, but Don was unlucky in that he was suffered constant pain and would comment on those few days when it totally lifted how good the day was. As the years went on this became much worse. His courage and endurance, still being able to be concerned about others, smiling, fooling about, being involved and interested and most of all never complaining, was truly wonderful to experience. It was heartbreaking at times when people did not understand his fragility and his exhaustion and bravery he showed by just facing the days at times.
Our family are so aware of the many roles Don played in life and also on the small screen, where just the placement of a wig, or a hat and he would transform into little fat Edie from Picnic at Hanging Rock which should now be known as “Picnic at Don Rock”…and his Mafia alter ego called “The Don”. This was all done as seamlessly as he did everything. As well there was the eighth day of the week “Don Day” which was a special day for the kids. All things were possible on this day. His force of personality and its many facets became something of a miracle to Melissa and Alison and I. He was constantly concerned about our welfare, and that of the extended family, and he seemed to grow more compassionate, the more he suffered.
Melissa and Alison joke about the fact that they quickly learnt to never say they were bored because when they did he would give them jobs to do, like weeding. Now adults they say they are grateful for this. He was fiercely independent and a gentle and concerned loving husband and father. Don lived with dignity and concern for others, but most and more importantly with humour. He had a great sense of compassion and empathy for others; his sense of fun and stirring; his generosity; his unpredictability; his intense love of the natural world we all experienced but more even than all this and everything else was the love he held Melissa, Alison and me He loved us without condition.
Melissa said, “Whenever I think of him it always makes me smile and a million memories come rushing to me. Each one making me happier. Dad had a wonderful sense of fun and a wicked, wicked sense of humour. Which left a lot of people not quite sure, was he laughing at them? That made it funnier. Alison and I from a young age absolutely loved when he was being wickedly funny. Kids love it when someone can get away with saying and doing things naughty. We had some amazing times as a family; you couldn’t ask or wish for a better dad. He was always always there for you, and nothing was ever too much. The gap in our little family is going to be felt, but he is always with us, because he promised me once. I remember when dad was in hospital, his arms were tied with restraints, mum and I untied them and he stretched out his arms like he was going to fly away. I said jokingly, “You’re free!” And he laughed and smiled it was the most beautiful smile. So I hope he is free and still has that beautiful smile that I’ll never forget.”
Alison said, “We had such a fun and rich childhood; there was always much laughter in the house. There were always lots of cuddles in our house, ‘interesting’ games of monopoly [ we all cheat like crazy and play Mackay’s rules], jobs if we admitted boredom, and there was always a right way to do jobs and a short time in which to begin them. That was just Dad and it became slightly amusing as we got older.
We have so many funny home videos of us four and others, but by far the best was our “Picnic at Don Rock!” Dad played Edie brilliantly and we have so many one-liners from it that will always make us laugh. Dad always tried to make things better for me. All the phone calls over the last few years I will cherish. All the stories you told, all the silly voices we did. You taught me how to cope with things that were beyond my grasp, and always when the seriousness was over you’d get me chuckling again.
Don was so proud of Melissa and Alison. No matter how ill he was all down through the years, he would have walked on broken glass to make sure they were okay. Sometimes out of the blue he’d just buy them something pretty he’d find down the street. He’d shoot around to the Post office and it’d be on its way before I’d even seen it. More often than not it’d come back because it was the wrong size. And if he was well enough he’d get the right size and go through the process again. He loved to surprise us. Sometimes it was just a little bit of cake he’d bring home that had taken his fancy, or a huge Anzac biscuit we had to halve. In later years he began to buy me little bits of gold. A bangle or a chain. As the girls said “Mum he was bejewelling you.” I’d never been a jewels type person and he knew this, but what he gave me was so right. We seemed to have arrived at a place where we were inside each other’s hearts and we knew.
I was thinking recently how to describe Don’s personality, because it was unique. There was nothing middle of the road about him. I know I have been the luckiest person alive to have had the experiences I have had with someone like him. As many people didn’t like Don as liked him, so the balance is struck. They may have been surprised that he was streets ahead of them and could spot dishonesty, hypocrisy and ignorance with almost physic ability. He couldn’t hack snobs at all and truly believed in an egalitarian society where all people really were treated equally. Maybe it was physic, because he would suss people out from the start. No being one to suffer fools gladly as mentioned, and being fond of calling a spade a spade, people, well men actually in particular didn’t know how to handle a man in a wheelchair forgetting his place.
Don could always spot a rip off, be it a builder who cut corners, or if someone had laid the guttering crooked. He was like a bulldog till he got fair dealing for money paid. It always surprised me how many people would react angrily when shoddy work was pointed out.
But it was yesterday when I was remembering a Dylan Moran concert - Dylan Moran is the main character in the ABC’s “Black Books” and it hit me that it’s the look Dylan gets in his eye just as he’s working up to something – it’s a ‘black’ humour thing. Its like there is almost a little flash in the eye…maybe a twinkle, but twinkle sounds to good and pure. Its like there is a ‘shift’ and if you miss it you will never get the joke. I have seen Billy Connelly and Dave Allen with exactly the same look. Then I realised that the humour is uniquely Celtic humour and black as it comes. Its clever and complicated and involves a lot of thought. There is an old saying about the Irish and its “just because they are smiling at you doesn’t mean they like you.” As with the Scots the Irish suffered many hundreds of years of oppression and learned to dissemble and to get under the radar, for survival. Something of this is glued to the humour and if you don’t get it you never will. Its important for me to explain this, because its what kept Don and I sane during the long weeks of his dying.
Once or twice, when he felt temporarily flush he’d send the girls a few hundred dollars, for no reason. This went to buy winter clothes, or replace things and the girls never expected anything like that. It was his way. They were never spoiled. It was the joy he got when he sent it, knowing it was on its way to them and knowing that they would have a little spend. He got more pleasure out of this than buying stuff for himself. Melissa and Alison loved and still do love their Dad not because of these things, but because of the amazing dad he was from the time they were born till even today a year after his death. He was a total dad. He was a total husband and a total gentleman in his heart. And although some thought that that heart had some rough edges, for some reason it was those rough edges, that prickly exterior, which made us love him the more, because we all knew inside that exterior was a strong but gentle man, like a Chieftain of the clan. A man who took responsibility and you knew would be there right behind you no matter what. Sometimes in my mind’s eye I could picture him standing up tall, protecting his people. I never told him this; it was just an image I held. True gentlemen are in short supply.
Our world was so precious to us. But it was terribly fragile and we knew this. He knew that it was unlikely that he would live many more years. I knew and “accepted” as much as you can accept that this was fact. I knew why Melissa and Chris’s wedding was so important to him. It was unlikely he would make it for Alison’s. It was unlikely he would ever see grandchildren. He and I would not grow old together. We had lived with this knowledge since he first broke his neck in 1982.
This book is my way of giving Don a voice and to record the injustices done to him and hopefully to bring to those responsible the reality of what their actions did to one human being and his family."
Thursday, October 30, 2008
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
turn your volumes up big time and just sit back...this tune was played by a 15 year old bagpiper called Lincoln Hilton, a local from Wauchope NSW Australia at my husband's funeral in May last year...I can listen to it now without distress..well a few tears but they are proud tears if that makes sense. He didn't play this version of course but his was better..it was unaccompanied and out under the trees as meant to be...stirring stuff...and wonderful that a kid would want to play this stuff these days...
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
Sunday, October 26, 2008
and how lucky am i that Galahs eat and drink close to my windows
and rainbow Lorikeets flock by the tens
and my favourites the maggies (magpies) are so hungry right now (sorry cazzie - these are my favourites and they are so friendly to me - but not to others!!!!)
I know how lucky I am - all this light and life around me and as Sling said some time back re feeding these birds "eat like a bird?" No way - it takes deep pockets to keep this lot going
I had terrible trouble being sociable, being "normal" such a strain - but nothing to do with my love for my sister - its just me and where I am at this time in my life...
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
I had a retired Pathologist look at the hospital notes and he was very curious about the amount and frequency of blood taken from my husband considering his dangerously low Haemoglobin levels and the fact that he had to be given bags of blood although he was not bleeding internally.
There were days when he had more than a dozen lots of blood taken which had to be affecting his Haemoglobin levels which were down to the 70’s and 80’s much of the time even dropping to the 60’s. It didn’t seem to matter how low his levels were they continued to take an average of about 8 lots of blood for “Blood Gases” and “Metabolism” testing along with other lots for “Heamatology”. This then appeared to be “balanced” by giving my husband bags of blood. Around 12th May, I was present when they were obviously really worried about him this way and a doctor and nurse actually force squeezed two bags of blood into Don as if it was an emergency. One of them squeezing the bag while the other attended to the connection. They changed positions with the second bag. I have no idea why this was happening. They have written the time these bags were given as being hours apart, but they weren’t. I was there. I would say they were given within an hour of each other.
This didn’t stop them still taking many lots of blood from him per day.
I have shown people with medical training these notes and all were puzzled why blood was taken so many times a day. I would like RNSH doctors treating Don to explain this please. The Pathologist was also puzzled at the times of taking some of the bloods, having himself worked at some major public hospitals in his career.
Second, what I would like explained to me given that there are three different types of blood draws covered in the notes, for three different purposes, I would like to know on a daily basis how much actual blood was taken from my husband.
I know that to have such a low Haemoglobin level for such a period of time would have added to my husband’s suffering. I know at one time he was removed from their “NICE” study because he develloped Hypoglycemia. This research was foisted upon us on his first day in ICU. We were told taking part in this might ensure he would have a better chance of survival, all paid for by the research. That day we were both in a state of shock and took anything which might change things for the better.
What I would like to know here is why when he was obviously failing so badly did they continue to take the amount of blood they did from my husband?
Third, what part did research have in the extension of my husband’s life against his wishes for five dreadful weeks of useless suffering? Even in the early days in ICU Dr Delaney from ICU said in a family meeting as recorded by our youngest daughter Alison, “Then he asked us what Dad’s life was like at home and what he did with his time. He also asked if he would be able to live that life with a trachea in place or be on a ventilator and also had he spoken of his thoughts of being kept alive on a ventilator? Mum said they had actually spoken of it and he had said he hadn't wanted to be kept alive on one.”
The Intensive Care Specialist, Dr Anthony Delaney wrote early on in ICU Notes, “I suspect his Quadriplegia has left him with marginal respiratory reserve that has rendered him incapable of ventilating after his Pleurodesis.”
Don made it very clear that he wanted to be let die from day one in ICU. He didn’t bite through his own ventilation tubes for any other reason. One time he did it in front of my daughter and I and on the outgush of air he said “Help me”. We knew exactly what he meant and so did ICU.
If a Spinal Specialist had been involved he would have clearly been able to explain why a Quadriplegic was never going to survive the damage caused by the failed Pleurodesis which caused that first Respiratory Arrest and as Dr Delaney said, “rendered him incapable of ventilating…”
It has not been explained to us why Doctors in RNSH kept information from us about Don’s condition which we had to discover after his death from the notes. Their non disclosure of serious complications, right from day one was dangerously unprofessional and impacted on Don and my ability to make decisions.
The family can think of no other reason for Don’s life to be artificially extended, at such cost to him and also the hospital when the situation was so hopeless other than research, which plays a large part in major public hospitals financially and professionally.
If you can offer another answer to what we suspect was the case we would prefer to have that than what we have come to believe after understanding the Hospital notes.
I will now list the bloods taken, the time taken and his Haemoglobin levels at that time. When you see that what I have described is fact, I hope you can then ask the doctors involved why they acted as they did and for what purpose."