How far can one umbilical chord stretch?


It’s been a big day today! A sort of next generation rite of passage has transpired and as I sit here in my lounge room and time ticks on between 1.50pm and 2.00pm I feel a familiar ache. The same ache I felt when I left each one of my children with Mum to go to work, the same ache I felt when they started school, finished school, got their first job, fell in love for the first time, fell out of love, graduated from uni, got married, gave birth etc. In all these  “time stands still” moments when I have known that things will be so very different once the moment has been lived through I have felt what I call womb ache!

It starts where each one of them started, lingers in remnants of melancholy, joy, wonder and hope and then launches itself into the new time, the changed time and somehow assures me that all will be well.

Well, womb ache has stretched across another generation. First born grandchild is on a plane heading to London. When she returns, she will be 19. Her mother, sister and I will be a year older. She will have travelled through 19 different countries. At a time in the world when so much of it is not making sense at all, she and indeed thousands like her are continuing to live a life motivated by hope and quest for joy.

We talked about the hard stuff. The what if question, the are you afraid question and with a logic that comes form deep inside her unique self, she voiced what we have heard so much lately. You can’t let the bad things others do stop you from living.

written on June 17th, 2017

Escapades at 3.00 am

Three am seems to be the time of  critical turn around for me in this post op recovery period.  I wish it was a critical turn over time but unfortunately the foreign bodies lodged in my legs where my knees used to be will not allowed me to turn over in bed without pain worse than child birth! The term turn over is not completely accurate either. “Turn out” is closer to reality – 3.00 am finds me turned out of my snuggly bed and heading for the recliner in which I am currently ensconced.

Little did I know that my 3.00 am escapades as a boarder at school would be preparing me for my current state of wide eyed bushy tailness nearly fifty years later!

The post visiting day midnight feast was a most memorable, if illegal activity at school.  Infrequent as they were, the risk of being discovered by a night duty nun in her black dressing gown and bonnet ( these were the days when nuns shaved their heads as a means of giving witness to casting off the trappings of earthly vanity and assuming humility) were too great, a midnight feast was a magnificent event!

We would smuggle contraband in after visiting day and hide it somewhere in our locker or wardrobe in the dormitory. As seniors some of us had access to ” the cubicles”. These were the equivalent of five star hotel rooms in comparison to a bed in the dormitory and offered a level of privacy that was the envy of those who were not one of the 12 girls who were allocated one. Big enough for a bed and a cupboard only, they had the luxury of  a curtain covered doorway which provided enough privacy to enable you to get dressed without having to use the compulsory boarding school skill of keeping your nightie on while putting on your underwear – undies, bra, petticoat.

My friend Margaret was the occupant of cubicle number 1 and for a very brief time, she was the envy of all! The beds were a mattress on top of a built in timber base. The top of Margaret’s base, on which the mattress was placed, could be lifted up. This created a brilliant hidey hole for masses of smuggled contraband! Biscuits, cakes in tins, lollies – junk food on tap!

After one visiting day Margaret brought back some delicious slice, for which her mother was famous, in a Tupperware container. It was 1968 and Tupperware was like plastic granite,hard, impenetrable which required the strength of ten men to break the seal on the lid! Carefully secreted away in the “bed box” on Sunday night, we plotted our course towards our midnight feast.

The next morning, an unusually frazzled Margaret announced that disaster had befallen her mother’s slice and that she had had the worst ever night’s sleep AND was going to have to explain, to her mother, why the Tupperware container was no more! She had been kept awake all night by strange sounds eminating from the ” bed box”. As soon as it was light enough to check she opened it up and to her horror found  a hole in the side of the container and A RAT gnawing it’s way through the side of the container helping itself to the contents!

All our wonderful scoffs had to be disposed of , of course, without letting any of the nuns finding out.  No mean feat but absolutely essential if we wished to live to tell the tale and enjoy another midnight feast!

Anniversary coming up!

Its nearly a year since I spent a terrifying, long night struggling to breathe, feeling my heart race and hiccough, wondering if I was going to die! I had had a big few months at the start of 2016. Deciding to retire is what I called it but really it was walking my wounded self away from my job, from a community I had loved, pretending I was ” ready”; the death of my beloved friend Sharon who ” got me” like very few others in my life, the death of my extraordinary, wonderful, loving, hero brother all of which left me empty, rudderless in spite of the all embracing love of my family.  That night I thought I might die and I didn’t want to!

I had been terribly un-nurturing of my inner and outer health. I had avoided going to the doctor for 27 years. From the terrible events of 2007 which submerged me and mine in desperation, I had sought to self manage by drinking – every day – too, too much and in so doing, I had short circuited my heart!

So much has happened since that night ! The world seems to have gone nuts! Donald Trump…good God who could have imagined that! The horror of terror which has become a part of Western existence but with which millions of people, men, women, children, rich, mostly poor, innocent  in the parts of the world we thank God we were not born into , have lived for generations! And here I am now, propped up in bed like a capital V – wedge at one end, wall of pillows at my head, three months post  the reception of a pair of new knees, pacemaker doing whatever it needs to do whenever it needs to do it to keep my wonky heart going, alcohol free , 35 kilos less, hoping to be able to sleep pain free!

Writing has kept me going really. I don’t get much by way of feedback and I don’t think I am looking for it anyway! But to be able to string the words together, to be able to capture for myself  and revisit the moments that have lifted me up, to be able to laugh as I revisit what is so often the craziness of my life, makes me so thankful that I can write, that my Father and Mother encouraged me to learn as much as I could and that  life is a gift!