Time is passing.Soon I will be the same age Don was when he was killed.
I was pulled up on using the term killed some time ago but I prefer to use it as it is the truth. He would not have died if not for the actions of some shithouse doctors and nurses as the Professor for the Coroner's office wrote in his report to the NSW Coroner, “it is most unlikely that the deceased’s rapid, but lengthy, deterioration would have commenced when it did but for the patient undergoing the various transfers and treatment."
He was 56 and soon I will be his age. Its so odd to think that God willing I will become older than he was. I remember when I passed 49, the age our dad was when he was killed - I looked at his photos and saw him looking back at me...now the same age.
As time passes an awareness grows that it is possible that there will never be justice for his killing just as there really was no justice for our father. Where our dad was concerned he was blood tested after death but the driver who ran into him was never blood tested although he had been on a pub crawl down the highway. When I got the notes from the courthouse which clearly showed this, I remember being angry but also I felt it was wonderful that almost 40 years later one of his daughters would be able to know the truth that she suspected. There is a small justice delivered there...because I can pass on to his descendants the truth when they ask.
But even our father received much more justice than is allowed for someone killed by the vile medical monsters who acted for the five weeks without duty of care. And dad didn't suffer more than a few moments. Some days, like today I am haunted by flashbacks and a parade of images revolves like a sort of fractured slide show on my inner screen.
This is the legacy we are left with. Every happy memory that the girls and I have seems to lead to that dreadful end. We start out laughing about some silliness, some saying or way that was uniquely Don's and it almost always moves into the hospital and what happened there.
With a death which isn't caused by someone the grief is bad enough, but when the people to blame are so protected by the system, where there is no acknowledgement of the crime committed against them you are left like a soldier returning from the horror of war. Its like you feel sick in the guts all the time, but on the surface you smile and greet people. In reality the only time I feel that I can truly relax is when I am with my daughters because its okay to be who you really are. Even with two of my sisters who have been wonderful and a great support, you are aware you can't explain what is going on inside because they too have their problems. One my younger sister is dealing with her own husband being killed last year as well - and all the court stuff that is happening which is awful...but I wish there had been a court case for Don - when the coroner found that his death had been caused by treatment no action at all was taken against those responsible. I don't think they were even spoken to. My eldest sister has a serious but private issue which haunts her and she works very hard - too hard for her age.
Sometimes I try and remember was life was like just to be normal - to have the normal stresses of small children, home, work, money.
That normal life left us back in 1982 - but my God we four made the best of the life we had. The kids say they had the very best childhood possible - and thats because Don never forgot the child within, rather than just being childish like too many. When it was just us four our house rocked with laughter at each other and more importantly at other people...Don could imitate anyone and no one was sacred.
Someone said to me once that if Don had had education he would have been dangerous. I think in his case an education would have stifled his free spirit and made him like the rest...it was his difference I loved. My spin on that was he was dangerous enough without it because mainly when dealing with bastards such as local pollies - because he hadn't learned the right way to approach them - he had his own unique style - such as planting his electric wheelchair right in front of the health Minister's chauffeur driven car, meaning that the minister had to get out and talk with him because bloody brave Don would not budge and no one there knew how to throw the chair out of gear so it could be pushed - not that they would have been game to - he could be pretty loud at yelling "abuse" out... I have many ring binders of his and mine letters to the editor, and actions we did together trying to make the bastards honest.
Life may never have been normal but I would do it the same a thousand times. We had such a life together and our daughters have grown into the most compassionate, ethical and funny adults... a lot of this was Don's legacy. Really I guess who would want just a normal life hey? Certainly not me - it was something I was never going to be cut out for. We were both rebels and I think we recognised that in each other that night we met in 1972... but probably that came later - I just thought he looked pretty good to me, and he was offering to buy me a drink. I had gone out with $2 in my pocket. That would buy me 4 alcoholic ciders - we spent the weekend together and moved in together three weeks later - for us it was like coming home... it always felt like that.
Some couples I know seem to almost hate each other - and I cannot imagine waiting my whole life living with someone I didn't like. They appear to have so much - each other and family around, enough money all of that but inside they are unhappy and this passes to the whole family. I know I was lucky, and I'd hate to think that my luck and happiness came at some sort of price -which meant the dreadful suffering Don endured and the suffering I will never recover from.
I feel now as if I really have lost my other half. We ceased to be two people some time ago. We still had little issues - what I used to call his pernickety old man's blankie ways and it used to drive him to distraction that I always put too much food on the plate, too many suds in the sink, did jobs like a bull at a gate. But funnily enough it was these funny things which kept us and the kids amused.
In Don's latter years as he became even less mobile, more short of breath, and more fragile all over we noticed that some people's attitudes seemed to harden towards us. Him mostly. One time he fell forward in his wheelchair and almost hit the footpath with his forehead - just outside Starbucks. I was able to get down on the ground quickly and hold him back off the footpath but could not get him back into the chair. I remember looking at the jumbled twist of his paralysed legs and knowing how rotten his bones were I was sure there would have been breaks - I screamed and screamed at those having coffee at nearby tables - and they looked at us. They sat there. No one got up off their fat backsides to help us. One man finally pointed at his chest as if to say "who me?" and finally got up and came over. It took a real effort even then to get Don back into place without doing damage to him. We were both shocked to our core. Some cuts and bruises but no broken bones miraculously .
But there were as many good people as bad, and the lady in the chemist shop helped me get the blood off him, and out antiseptic on the broken areas...she took his Blood pressure because he was as pale as a ghost... no charge and she still says hello to me these days.
There were so many things denied to us, and mostly we didn't mind because our lives were pretty rich. It was hard though for a man like Don who rode horses and surfed never to be able to feel the sand again, to feel the grass beneath his feet and to have to stay home when visitors came and went to interesting places which were not really accessible and even more so as he became more fragile.
I'll bet he is seeing some pretty interesting things these days...surfing the universe and riding the cosmos - in between making sure i don't go to rack and ruin...and keeping the girls in his heart.
Its a rainy day today - lots of time for remembering today. Tomorrow I will make myself get out of the house but its good to have this time for reflection.