Dreams are back!

“Hold fast to you dreams, for if dreams die, life is a broken winged bird that cannot fly”

Langston Hughes

My dreams are back but they are older and without much hope. They render me weeping in my sleep. When they wake me, I am agitated. I am frightened. I am lonely.

Since retiring I have tried a range of what I thought were dead set certainties for the continuation of what has been a blessed and successful life. Being a full time working mother was a badge of honour! Being a full time working mother with a succession of executive positions in schools was a badge of honour with merit! Not enough merit to allow me to crash through, completely, the glass ceiling on Principalship, but enough to convince me of my intellectual worth positioned as I am in a family of PHDs and theological qualifications.

My dreams were of children and grandchildren. The possibilities of becoming a writer, a singer, a teller of stories. Becoming “Me” without the qualifications gained in the role of mother, wife, daughter, sister. Wholly, absolutely, uniquely me.

I wallowed in the longevity of life. The gene pool looked pretty good. Dad died, 87. Mum died 98. Grandma died 99. When I hit 50 and people started to hypothesise about the possibility of retirement while considering their own possibilities for promotion, I thought they were stupid! Perhaps I was stupid! But dream on I did.

Retire at 65. Not a minute before. Upon retirement, the Rhine River Cruise. Become a writer. Sing! Tell stories. Walk away from my career with a sense of fulfilment. Joy! Awe.Become a sage, a respected elder. Wallow in my grandchildren . Be with them. Love them. Sit back with joy and satisfaction as I watch my adult children become wonderful adult people

As I type this, it is a glorious day. The sun is making everything sparkle. The sound of the grass cutters in the park is the only thing intruding on the peace and calm. It is a school day but the school is empty and silent. I am wallowing in the reception of my Australia Post package, shipped from another state, which contains what I usually purchase at the local chemist 400 metres away. Its almost idyllic. But its not and the brevity of life is staring me straight in the face!

Mum died in 2012. Her life long faith had sustained her. She never questioned. She had to accept a lot of behaviour and choices that the great institution labelled as sinful from me and she did, always. But in the end, her own private questions about the destruction of one of her sons by hierarchical hand washing greater than Pilate, was agony for her.

Our Family broke! !

In 2015 my dreams took a turn towards terror! I could not remember them even when they woke my husband because I was calling out or sobbing or shaking. My brother died in 2014. Brain cancer. Brilliance destroyed. He was 68. My oldest brother died in 2016. MND. Husband father. Brilliant educator. Almost 20 years a hero of the bastard of a disease. He was 72. Gratitude that my Mum was already dead!

My dreams are back!

Last night, in my dream, I was at the top of Harriet Street on the corner with Georgetown Road. It was the spot where every afternoon on my way home from school I would pause to check for traffic, look across the road the see my home. The third house from the corner down from the Police wireless station. Sometimes Mum would be on the verandah and call out to me.

In my dream I saw a woman. I knew her. She was standing on the other side holding a chubby, smiling baby. I could see her eyes and I began to call to her. I knew it was a baby girl. I knew she was in her grandmother’s arms. The baby smiled and I smiled “you’ve got your Grandma detector on” I called to her. Focus shifted to the background.

No houses. It wasn’t the past. It was the present! Nine houses gone replaced by the blinding glare of the cement car park. Further down the hill, the local bottle recycling drop off point. “Come on over” the cry from the woman. Panic was my response and then tears. I could not. Too dangerous for them and for me and my unvaccinated son and his father.

The psychiatrist on the government team today said “this is the most sustained and serious stress many of us will experience.

  • Have a stress management plan.
  • Assume everyone is dealing with stress. Create structure in your life. Exercise, contact, talk about meaningful things.
  • Monitor your diet, alcohol and sleep

And she who is in charge reminded us that “close loved ones are dying.” We were invited to imagine the lifetime of guilt we would be inflicting on ourselves if we passed the virus on to our elderly loved ones.

So here I sit. Sun still beaming. Birds abounding. Not a broken winged one of them in sight. The jasmine and the frangipani trees are starting to announce the coming of spring, as foretold by she who is in charge in a “green shoot reference” in what she thought was a turning point in the pandemic.

The thing of it is, that for all their blathering on about hope, hope is being destroyed by slogan and jingoism and the cranking out of past rallying calls from war! I want to hug each of my children. I haven’t seen one of them and his family since 2019. I used to drive the 1100 kilometres to visit him at least twice a year. One of my grand daughters turned 3 in March. I have not seen her on her birthday since she was 1. Another of my grand daughters has had two birthdays and I have not been there. What was an anticipated year of family celebrations: 50 years of marriage, 50th birthday of our first born, 70th birthday for me, 10th birthday of our grandson, 30th birthday of a niece. The prospect of a family reunion in August is for 2022 perhaps!

The travel restrictions allow me to visit my parents’ grave and I have. I feel peace and connection there. But the tangible, embraceable connections to them, forever present to me in my children and theirs remains unattainable and so my dreams return as broken-winged birds that cannot fly.

Joining the most vulnerable Australians!

Today is August 1st 2021. At 2 am I turned 70. I am now up there in “most vulnerable Australians” cohort! And proud of it! Not only that I am among the 70% of the most vulnerable cohort in the country who is vaccinated, indeed I am double vaccinated. I should get a medal or something!

But as the day draws to a close I am wallowing in the wonder of my journey so far, warts and all, and relishing the fact that there is more to come!

Being a cradle Catholic I know that every great Feast day has a Vigil. Yesterday was my 70th Anniversary of Birth Vigil. I wasn’t expecting it to be anything special. Another Saturday. Watch the COVID update. Yell at the main players. Write my daily Facebook update, perhaps go to a shop, knit, read. Not much else by way of routine except the medication routine. Boy was I wrong.

The first knock on the door was answered by my son. Expecting it to be the usual Saturday knock request re. interest in solar panels or enquiry about selling, he approached hesitantly. Looked at me and said “Mum?” There at the door was a well dressed woman with the biggest hamper of luscious food, even liquorice, champagne, a beautiful fragrant candle and I became a damn burst! I could hardly breathe. It was as if all the sadness of disconnection from our children and theirs we have endured, welled up and having the congenital fault of bladders too close to eyeballs, I was sobbing, hunched over like a real old woman. Aching to hold each one of them, while wanting to revel in the angst of witnessing adult children sort themselves out in front of their mother, across generations. Anyone with children and grandchildren knows what I am talking about.

This beautiful woman, cried with me – what a scene!

“People like you make my job worthwhile” she said.My daughter in lockdown in Sydney had sent the hamper to me.

Husband went off on his usual Saturday trip (double vaccinated too) and there followed a never ending procession of deliveries.

It got to the point where I was worried that people would think there had been a death in the family. My wonderful Sister/Cousin who had sent me a beautiful hand made card earlier in the week sent me daffodils and irises. Not five minutes later, another knock at the door and a glorious bouquet of lilies and champagne. Gift from Port Macquarie family. Hardly settled again and another knock at the door and flowers, the likes of which I have never seen, in glorious shades of reds and purple, natives and traditional European. Same delivery man! He was confused because while the street name and number were the same, my Mexican (Victoria) son refuses to change the name of the suburb to the more upmarket name now in use. The poor fellow had set off to find an address that doesn’t show up on gps! “You must be pretty special” as he handed over the gift bag with candles and chocolate! “You don’t get to be 70 every day and I’m not even 70 yet!”

I own only three vases so there was some emergency rearrangement of floral tributes to get them all safe, sound and sorted! Husband returned with a beautiful posy of roses, and baby’s breath. Fortunately a brass vase from decades ago, long forgotten, turned up at the back of some cupboard. Just the right size for the posy! Inundated completely!

I was restless and stayed up late. Watched a movie that I knew would upset me , but I did it anyway. I wanted to be awake at 2.00am , the time of my birth! Every birthday I can remember Mum would tell the story. “You were born at 2.00am and I looked at the ceiling and I said NEVER AGAIN!” My two younger brothers arrived over the next 7 years!

So the big day arrived and the men of the house presented their gifts. A turtle, Myrtle from Joe. Long Lean and Loveable had an assortment of gifts. A book “The Last Reunion” . I am sure I will enjoy it but the title is a bit foreboding! A cute potted cactus for my desk. Prickly a bit like myself. The biggest box of Roses chocolates I have ever seen and a selection of Ferrero Rocher which turned out to be heralding the piece de resistance – a very lovely Tree of Life pendant “because your strength spreads out like the tree” and my thighs and the rest of me after chocolate, champers, and Chinese for tea!

A most wonderful family chat on messenger had us all in fits in the back yard. Filled with the incredible repartee that goes on between generations including the small fry grandchildren. The back yard reverberated to conversations that must have made the neighbours wonder what had happened to change our usual quiet little yard into a crazy cackle of loudness an laughter. Teenage grandchildren present but generally silent. Doing the right thing and wondering what the hell it was all about but glad to be there I think. I was certainly glad they were there. Year 3 grandchild playing with his mother’s phone, filters, and carry on! Youngest grand daughter squealing with glee in the park. Wild. Wonderful!

After they had all disengaged, Long Lean and Loveable went to his afternoon nap and I went to the source of all of this. I took with me some of the flowers and placed them beneath their names. I sang Ave Maria to the sound of the traffic on the bypass and I felt absolutely held in love. Just as I was approaching the cemetery gates, the phone rang. It was a woman who had been a student way back when I was really young. I treasure her. We laughed and remembered. I love my life.

Arriving home to receive a panic message from lock down daughter. Grandson, 8, has lost a tooth. No access to cash. Can $5 be sent by express post together with a letter from the Tooth Fairy explaining the lockdown does not allow home visits? I took the opportunity to write one for his little sister aged 3, explaining that teeth are for eating pasta and strawberries and not for biting big brothers!

Fortune cookie, post Chinese? Give your love with a big hug!

Consider yourselves hugged!