Don's lovely sisters... old photos again. These two girls, Jeanette being the one with the darker hair and Judy the fairer one were Don's two older sisters. I never got to meet Jeanette as she, her husband, four year old son and unborn baby were all killed when a drunk driver slammed into their little Volkswagen near Woodburn NSW on Australia day 1969. Don was 19 then and I was only 14, so we hadn't met. The stories I heard about Jeanette made me realise I had been very unlucky in never getting to meet her. Don used to say that Jeanette was the only one who could keep their mother under control as she was afraid of nothing. She was all of 4ft9inches but I got the feeling from Don that she was the fire and spirit in the family. The day he closed down his mother's house after she had died.... he sat near the front door of that house and wept. I thought he was crying for his mother - but he said he could still remember his sister opening the front door at 4am after he'd driven all night from Queensland to see her...and she threw open her arms and hugged him into the house...it was her house at that time.
When Don was dying in that filthy Royal North Shore Hospital it was this photo of his sisters, and one of Melissa and Alison (which I had stuck onto an piece of A4 paper...together)... it was this one that he would ask to be bought over so he could touch the faces.
When his other sister Judy was dying from Cancer in 1998 Don sat beside her for the three months of her dying and I would hear them chattering away - sometimes I would go into the room and she would be having some blessed relief asleep, and he would have his wheelchair stretched back and be asleep beside her.
Judy I did get to know, and I liked her straight away. I felt comfortable with her and unlike so many others she was one of the people who knew how to spend time with Don...a visit to us was a visit - not a holiday. When she visited us she spent time with us and renewed their relationship. I still have images of the pair of them out in the yard looking at this plant or that, deciding what to do with this or that tree...and always if Don was stuck in bed as he was for too much time...she would be the one who would hop up beside him and comfortably watch tele or chat. A visit wasn't just saying hello, eating and sleeping and then buggering off to enjoy the sights....she understood that we couldn't do too much of that stuff - she had a wonderful insight into Don's reality that few others have ever had apart from our girls.
She could be a bit crazy at times - in a good way - as she was always planing big endeavours - some of which she pulled off... and she wrote the very longest and most illegible letters I have ever seen. She like Don saw the world as if the glass was half full not half empty - and thats what drew me first to Don and to her.
Judy was married twice. Only a year after marrying the love of her life (her first marriage) when she was in her late teens, he was killed in a car accident. She was driving but not at fault... she held him as he died. Por Judy. I know she held a real spark for him for the rest of her life - and I have no doubt but that they are together now.
And here they both are so young with such big smiles...anticipating a wonderful life - which they did have most of the time.
I think what reminded me of these two girls...was I was looking at their respective wedding photos which are on the wall in my lounge room - (I have a wedding photo wall!!)...and thinking about Alison who is to be married in September. When I was down in Melbourne I went with her as she tried on some wedding dresses...one dress she tried on was so elegant -not all frou frou and puffed up like too many of them - but simple and elegant with 1930's shoulders...and for some bloody reason when she stood there, with her long hair gathered up, looking like a queen, I just burst out crying...and its not my style to cry like this over weddings... she wasn't standing there all aware of her own beauty...I don't think she was even aware of how she looked, and that humility made this moment so precious. There are no "princesses" in our girls...just Queens - and there is a difference.
Its moments like these I miss sharing with Don...moments like these that I have to hope that Don can really see and feel what is happening in his daughters' lives - and if there is a heaven or somewhere just as good - I have no doubt but that there are these two lovely girls looking on as well...
He's been in my head constantly lately...I guess it might be like this for the next few years as March rolls around - in my head its as if it is all happening again in the background of my mind. I am still not able to have my manuscript published, I have now had 14 rejections but still have 10 still out there... I cannot accept that even though RNShospital admitted they did dangerous surgery on Don without following any procedures - None - not one - zilch. Why this is not considered criminal and needs Inquiry is beyond me - and I have to wonder at the power and pull of those who wish to bury their mistakes.
I don't live my life all down and miserable and am a happy little Vegemite most of the time, but it is up to me to see this through - and as we have a state election coming up next year...I am going to stir up the opposition as much as I can so as to have that Inquiry declared when they come into power. There is no one else who can or will do this...and I feel for me and the girls this is one if not the most important thing I will ever do with my life.
The Celts have a maxim - "To do the right thing because it is the right thing to do" - not for any rewards, or public acknowledgment or even the thought of eternal reward after death - but simply because it is the right thing to do. This is how Don and I tried to live (with a few naughty exceptions that harmed no one at all...for me, what I am doing and planning to do is the right thing to do...and I sometimes get a strong feeling that I do get help ... maybe from the angels - which I do believe in - maybe I get a little push or help from Don and maybe those two sisters of his -who knows - but some things just seemed to have worked out so right...and if I work towards it with the right mindset - who knows what might happen.