Friday, April 27, 2012

Radio Interview 26th April - 
I’d like to thank Fair Dinkum Radio’s Leon Pittard for the hour long interview he did with me yesterday and which is now up on line. It covers the time before Don went to hospital, his abuse and death and the battle afterwards. It runs for an hour. It is an important cautionary story for those especially disabled or elderly who are entering the health system. Forewarned is always better.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Feeling a bit Droopy of late... I don't know what's wrong with me of late but I feel really tired and off colour - first I thought I was just down but then on came the nausea and racing heart - and it comes and goes in waves. I was at a meeting yesterday listening to a retired journo talk and he was really entertaining and funny, but I almost fell off the chair a few times as I kept drifting off - yet have had good sleep. Then when everyone else appeared quite comfortable I just broke out in waves of heat - (thought menopause was over some time ago) . I am just feeling physically exhausted - most likely some sort of bug which will ease soon hopefully...not depressed because I am interested in things , whats going on around me - 

Its funny, when I think of the old place at craggy island - its as if there are two me's. The one here and the other one and although I share her memories its as if I have disassociated myself from her feelings - I like it here okay, but I miss the wildness and the skies and the green. We only lived there 5 years - but I guess it was the last place I was with my husband and he died there.

In 2004 we moved from our old place where we had lived 18 years and I sort of did the same to that life - Before they moved the house Don and I went back inside and made a video about our life there and some of the things that happened - this time when I left I did video some of the scenery and all of that but there was no telling happy stories... I am glad to be closer to family, but I wish in a way I had been able to afford to keep the old place - it was just financially unsustainable...

 Can't really go into it in detail as its private stuff  - a few family issues (not with the kids and their husbands thankfully)- and nothing in here is private as many of us have learned to our costs - there are those who don't understand the ethic of allowing privacy - if they can access they will and see nothing wrong with their actions - its low class as far as I am concerned and not the way we were raised. Mum and Dad always allowed us as much privacy as one can have in a house full of kids and a mum and Dad... letters were private and never ever opened. They didn't try to worm their way into your head too much and as long as you didn't do anything too outrageous your inner thoughts wee your own. And as kids and young teens we didn't do anything much to worry them - even if i did runaway from boarding school - I was actually running back to home.

If of course you are afraid your kids are into heavy stuff that could harm them or others then as a parent you have not only a right but a duty to invade the privacy - that's different.

Sometimes in here amongst those I have posted with for quite some years I read others with the same issues - For me in the years after Don was killed - being able to post in here sure beat taking sleeping pills or something else because I just could not sleep for any length of time - And I got a lot of advice, help and support in here - at times much more than from others...
Its a funny thing about "low class" - you can own the world and be "low class" and you can be poor as a church mouse and have real class. I remember many years ago an elderly neighbour who had just met my Mother commented that she was "a real lady" - and I knew what she meant. She was very poor and didn't have good clothes really... the widow's pension which she tried to live on after Dad was killed wasn't adequate and in those days there were almost no jobs for older women nor help in minding the kids still at home. But Mum never acted poor. She never let her dignity go and she was always soft and compassionate - and interested... She had the big house but it was unpainted for years and the roof had begun to rust before she moved over to be near Don and I. From out of this old house would come the sounds of her playing Beethoven on the old piano, and then the old record player would offer Elvis - there were books and comfort - but no waste - I wrote this about my Mother's house back in 1988 before she moved

"My Mother’s House.

An old ginger cat, called Samboy, who dribbles
and soaks in the heat and patting.
A larrikin dog, called Ben, with a strong lust
for life, female dogs, and things that stink a lot -
An old, old house ...
with no paint left on it - but flakes of war time yellow -
Sagging at the seams...

Inside - Colour! Colour! Colour!
The whole spectrum thrown with abandon
amongst the clutter of every item ever made and collectible...
Seemingly chaotic...
but she can put her hand on everything you need,
“Just give me five minutes”.

This then is my Mother’s house now.
No neat prissy brick and tile, with every care taken,
and smelling of a life wasted in endless order and empty heart -

Sometimes here she is happy.
Light shines and laughter warms in girlish giggles from her.
Sometimes she is very unhappy.
She closes from the light and lives inside a cardboard world,
enduring it till it passes...

People with their heads and hearts on backwards
Would never see the charm, warmth and purity
of my Mother’s house."

 and its "charm, warmth and purity" that can't be bought. 
Mum with Ben the mad dog who chewed on exhaust pipes of cars while they were idling!

Mum was about 20 here

Mum was about 43 here - just after Dad was killed - and just noticed she is holding her arms in exactly the same position in both photos - never noticed that before

I think I need to get out of the house right now -

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

An amazing family

I hope you will take the time to watch this - I met Shane through his mother Sue who edited my book "Without Due Care". I got to know and respect this wonderful family through Sue - and understood the huge loss her husband and her children's dad was - Shane was funny, clever, brave, extremely disabled physically and from the two short meeting I had with him I came away understanding that there are angels on Earth and Shane was one - as were his whole family. I understood how severe disability effects the children in the family from our own experience - People unaffected have no idea of the humour and love within a family unit like this despite the hardships. So next time you read or hear about the NDIS (National Disability Insurance Scheme) understand that it was bugun by a very few people, Sue (Shane's mum) being one - it was begun because they knew! From experience unlike too many. When i originally saw this I was so sad as I hadn't known Shane had died - He hadn't long finished year 12 and at a time when most are beginning their lives his life ended. 

Saturday, April 14, 2012

a quiet saturday morning thought train

The Fam in about 1999 -  

My Mum Margaret and our two daughters way back  in about 1988
I have been mucking about with a free program  you can access through Picassa called Picnik..and having some fun with some old photos - way back when the second of these which was taken in 1988 was taken we could never have imagined the world we are living in today with its electronics - oh! sure Don had a computer - got his first in 1982 when he could no longer write with a pen due to injury - but it was a simple little thing - its a funny thing about photos I can remember as clear as a bell where and when all photos I have ever taken happened. The beautiful photo of my mum and girls here was taken just before mum's 60th birthday - she was quite frail really but only in body - she dropped dead six years later - in terrible circumstances - but here she is happy, in amongst family and loved...and we all die as sure as we are born and mostly can never know the manner nor time.

For me the volumes of albums I love to leaf through sometimes are a testament to the hope we human beings have, the love we have, the silly things like events that went belly up but are recorded for posterity - in all their stupidity.

And sometimes I think that maybe we are surrounded in brightness and light even more so than in these pictures but often we forget and trudge around not seeing the stars in the sky or the horizon, of the spark of interest in a small baby's face at the checkout - (yes I am one of those who pulls faces and smiles at babies - and they do it back and I don't care what people think - babies are so wonderful like that because no one has told them what they can and can't do).

Many days I have my head down and seldom look about me - but then I can't stand myself when I am like that for too long and many times have forced myself to just get out there and walk - for me I think of the lives of people like Mum, Dad and Don that were over too quickly - and I have those years with my health that they didn't get - so still have bad days but the good days always outweigh the bad ones.

I have what is sometimes an inconvenience - the habit of making eye contact when I walk down the street. I think this is a habit that mainly kids who grew up in country towns have - as there are often so few people in the street you can't just walk past people without acknowledging them with eye contact or a smile - has gotten me into trouble at times as I always seem to be the one who gets bailed up in the street by those aggressive charity collectors who don't want your coins but want your bank account which I won't give... (people would be more generous if those charities didn't put such conditions on donations) - I as well seem to find it hard to walk past beggars - and if there are not too many of them will usually drop something - none of us are immune from homelessness, mental illness or other which could see ourselves in time in the same awful position...and I know sometimes its a rort - but more often its not -

It gets easier now being older to have eye contact - when I was young and reasonable - eye contact often resulted in unwanted attention and more than one occasion I was followed a bit too closely - but now i am at this wonderful age where I am invisible - just a middle aged woman with glasses walking past - and I quite like it because it feels like it used to feel when i was a kid and was just myself.

How did I get to here - bit of a thought train...

A writing group that I was and still am a member of based in Port Macquarie is not too far off having a book of our stories and poems published - (self published of course - we're not that good yet) -  I put in mainly stories as I don't really know all the "rules" about writing poetry - but do it anyway...

I was talking with my eldest sister this morning about what we could and couldn't handle in people the most - and we agreed that pretentious people was a pet hate - amongst others as well a few likes - 

I am putting this poem in the book because it describes  how I feel about pretension (sometimes my own!) protocol - Its a simple work but I like it better than some of the others that took much more effort.
 At times when everything seems so deadly serious,
and small things grow to assume such a great importance,
and the things of this life are so solidly in your face -
you forget that there are other lives out there
than the one you are so deadly in earnest about...

When we all sit about, talking all our nothings
with such gravity -
A part of me seems to separate with a life I have no control of...
and sets up a smirky smile, a chuckle needing to be hidden,
a belly laugh trying hard not to take over . . .
My child face round and clear twinkles with devilment
seeing the ridiculousness I am in danger of succumbing to.

“We must not laugh at funerals, Therese.
Nor at Premiers and Prime Ministers - not to their faces anyway -
We must not roll our eyes at protocol,
Nor at pretentious prattling mawkish six month ‘pastors’
who try to save us from ourselves.
It does not do to stand with hands on if about to charge
nor is it done to mimic land developers and councillors
who play the game so well.
And Therese, just because the doctor walks like he’s got
a broom lodged up his bottom,
doesn’t mean its okay to imitate him behind his back,
when you think he isn’t looking...”

At these times I am reminded of who I really am,
Accepting that the saying that “God laughs in flowers’
mightn’t always fill my garden with the prettiest of flowers...
And I much rather the rough child that runs inside me
laughing in the sunshine - digging me in the ribs
as I try to keep it straight - roaring out “HAW HAW HAW”
in great belly laughs that make your sides ache.
To only laugh when others think its funny and correct
in a world becoming too respectable, serious and full of pretension...
amongst hidden cruelties, affectation, pomposity and stuffiness,
means too bloody long between laughs for me.

Friday, April 06, 2012

Was it a Dream

Was it a dream? Don’t think so – it was more real than real. In the early dawn hours I was “asleep” but aware – in the half waking state.. From nowhere within the dream I was having – Don was there. A gentle but solid touch nose to nose. Then one kiss – not sexual but sensual – a life-time love kiss –  Then again nose to nose and another just the same. I could feel warmth, and skin and was hyper aware. I lent in again nose to nose – the touch and then expecting lips that weren’t there I fell back into reality with a grief that knows no bounds but as well I felt as if I had been honoured and gifted.
 Like the dream I had one night a few years ago when I was in that same hyper aware state and I heard him call my name twice. I turned around physically and could see no one but had no doubts that something wonderful had happened.

I don’t go looking because I believe we must leave things as they are – but sometimes there is so much love that I believe in the middle of grief that will not ease – we are given a touch, a sound, a light inside our hearts –

That's what I think happened early this morning.

And now its a grey autumn afternoon – my favourite time of year. Its not all that cool yet, but I feel as if something has awakened in me as it usually does at this time of the year. I feel that emotionally I have been asleep for a very long time – as if I have been wasting my life – a life I am lucky to have shouldn’t be wasted.

Sometimes in very human moments I wonder what Don would think of me as I grow older – as I develop more flaws and bad habits? Of late at times for the first time in our lives together I have been questioning my own worth – but Autumn has rolled around again and once again time for some honest thinking and to be a bit kinder to myself. I think I got a little push this morning and glad so. Unsure if any one else has felt a loved one very close in what is more than a dream – I think Foxymoron has with her little baby Sarah – I did after Dad was killed and then Mum – What happened this morning felt holy – in a way – as if there are angels or something loving out there that allows us to have these wonderful and rare moments.

It has left me very emotional - feeling that slam of reality that you think is gone as you puddle along in your daily life - then it hits you hard enough to just about knock you flat for a while. You go through it and go on with life - I think it actually keeps you sane as hard as it seems on these sorts of days. Works for me.

Any one who has felt close grief knows this for a fact but sometimes I wish I didn't know.

My niece said at the eulogy when her father Bruce was killed "There will be no more new memories" and I felt so sad for her knowing what it is like to lose your Dad young...I just thought when I went hunting for photos - "There will be no more new photos" Lucky I have so many. But for my niece - maybe there will be new memories rare as they are - I have dreamt of my dad and it was as if he was in the room with me. He was killed when I was 15 but in the dream I was trying to get him to stay with me till the kids came home because I wanted him to meet them, and he said, "I already know them." In a dream I have driven our old green van up to her standing on the footpath and offered her a life, when she answered 'Its okay, I don't need a lift any more" and others.

Some would say its what we want to hear - and use psychology/ science to explain life the universe and everything away.  I think I have a bit too much of the Aussie/Celt in me to settle for something as clinical and stale as that. There definitely is something and it is a force for good - call it what you will - 

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

 At a creative writing group I belong to back in port Macquarie - we were asked to write on any subject one time - I just re found this - I just decided to write about Australia.

"Australia is my land. My land . My home. My place, with its big brassy blue summer skies and its scraggy bush. The only home I have known. How grateful I am to my brave ancestors who were forced by the “Famine” and poverty to risk their children on the many months voyage. 

Into what? A place as alien and unknown to them as would Mars be to us. But make it home they did. This strange land where creatures hopped instead of running and suckled young on teats hidden inside their pouches all the while gestating the next generation. This strange land where the seasons were all reversed with long hot droughts broken only by years of flooding became home. They adapted to its vagaries although many didn’t and wet mad, went back to the famine or just gave up. Australia is the largest island continent on earth with its hundreds of tribes. Tribes many as different to the other as are the Greeks to the Swedish; the Germans to the Egyptians. Breathtaking differences as marked as those tribes tall and thin in the North West to the shorter thickset people of the east coast, to the lost Tasmanian people who were different again and onto the lost tribes of the Gympie, reported by farmers in the 1880’s to have been small and fine like pygmies and who spoke like the bushmen of the Kalahari. These were exterminated by the taller tribes around them; tribes who were then almost destroyed by the new white tribes. Then the unknown tribes as featured in a book called Lost tribes of the Kimberley” (Ian Wilson), who’s art the local aborigines in the late 1800’s said was not theirs but from even earlier people, unknown to them. From out of Asia, from Southern India, from Indonesia, from Polynesia and from Africa over the thousands of years came wave after wave of the tribes that make up Australia, each wave pushing the other one down and eastward; each invasion as savage as the ones before and then settling into the rhythm this land by its spirit settles on those who are here long enough. 

Then the invasions from England, just by ‘days-luck’, (ahead of the French much to La Perousse’s disappointment) came under the cruel orders of English law - hard hearted judges, parliamentarians, bureaucrats and soldiers bringing in the slave ships of convicts; the dispossessed and the starving – indentured servants as were my ancestors, an invasion more cruel than those previous as the new tribes had guns and technology unknown to the people who were in the road. But the land is settling its spirit on the invaded and invaders as O’Brien’s, Murphy’s Smith’s, Pearson’s, Bonner’s and O’Shane’s have as much Irish, Scots, Welsh and English ancestry as they do the blood of the invaded.

 I listen to Noel Pearson talk, read his words and I see the unique spirit of Australia in him. His call for the cringe to be over, for half his people – his aboriginal part to stand tall and not settle for the handouts of political correctness which have shackled the people more than any gun or government reservation ever did. This thinking will in my mind lead to true healing – to standing tall. 

Australia can be felt for me as a haze which descends like a warm mantle over my shoulders. I am Australian. I have no other home, no other loyalty. My child-feet dug in the dry soil, stumbled over the cool evening grass, looked up at the black velvet sky to stars unique only to my homeland. Australia is unique. Not better nor worse – just different. I could no more imagine living under a small sky space, narrow rooms and streets or mountains blocking out the light as “home” than no doubt my ancestors could when they first walked down the gangway and felt Australia under their feet.

We are a country where the mixing of the tribes can be achieved in the fullness of time, as the edges are melted from the narrow, the wounded, the vicious, the hungry, the prejudiced and the hate filled – all in the fullness of time and nothing mankind can do in all our arrogance will change the power of that unique spirit. This can’t be forced by law nor pressure but will flow as easily and slowly as the rivers over the great divide flow, as the seasons of extremes meld one into another. Australia if listened to and felt has this "laid back" effect if we only listen and feel."
Lovely to have both my girls together.
Alison and Melissa and me at Point Cook
Chris, Melissa and Alison
Melissa and Chris drove down from Sydney and spent last week here. It was just so lovely to have my little family together. We are not the sort of family where generations have stayed living in one area, as with my four sisters and myself, so with Melissa and Alison we all spread our wings young (17) . I hear people talking about being too busy because they have grandchildren around, or parents around and from my perspective find it hard to believe - if only! We don't seem to make old bones in our family so there has never been any "older" generation either mothers or fathers. So when we get together is is very precious. The house seemed very empty when they left - but I admit when they sms's me that they were home after the 10 hour drive - I was really relieved. I try not to worry because that doesn't change things, but I hate it when my kids are out on the highway and yet I know accidents often happen just driving about in your normal day or close to home as with dad.

I do my best to keep these sorts of fears quiet because they are young and its not fair to load up the young ones with our fears which hopefully may never come to be. But its a golden rule you let people know where you are and when you have arrived. A courtesy.
When we get together its magic. It always was and I guess we were afraid once Don was gone that we may have lost that spark - 
Melissa giving Tiger what for and Tiger loved it

Melissa and Chris

Alison and Melissa beat me yet again - this time it was knowing brand names of clothes and shoes etc - 

Alison and Andrew

Melissa and Chris hadn't seen my house and both of them said it had a wonderful feel - and it has - its very peaceful - they actually said the street was so quiet that they might use it to make a Zombie film about when there were no human beings left on earth - and I had to agree - sometimes it is too quiet and empty, but yet you know there are people so close by. Something hard for me to get used to.