A brother is born – Exposing the fragility of a family

Dear Mum

Things changed after Terry was born, I question whether it was just me, but I don’t think so. You were searching for something more than the stultifying atmosphere of the farm and looking back now it is clear that you were not well.

A whole lot happened in the next five years; I started school, your father died, Steve went off to Boarding school, Dad became more and more obsessed with all sorts of obligations beyond the farm, Aunts and Uncles on both sides of the family were going through bitter divorces, your beloved brother; imprisoned on Crete during the war, was drinking more and it must have seemed like you were all alone.

Understanding now what was happening to you, makes it easier to accept, but the bitterness that crept up on you, affected us all. You had been our haven and suddenly; that haven was not there.

A lot more is known now about post-natal depression, but; at the time it was hard for a five-year-old to see his loving mother turn her back on him.

Dad did not know how to deal with things, we stopped going to visit people as a family, and; increasingly the only visitors to the farm were those people there on business; the wool classers and shearers, the stud stock people, the agents and of course; the political hacks nearing the end of their time and searching for one more endorsement from a man whose star was rising.

I loved it when we had visitors, no matter why they were there. Hostilities would be put on hold and peace would reign. Image became everything as Dad searched wider afield for places of influence and you slowly found your way into a more accepting environment further afield than the local village CWA.

Life at home when the visitors would leave became an ongoing battlefield, bitter words and accusations flew, as kids; we were caught in the middle and often expected to pick sides in this increasingly bitter battle.

I was torn.

To the outside world, we were the exemplary family; inside the gates to the farm, a war was raging and we were the collateral damage.

This dichotomy would have long lasting repercussions; image was everything while the family fragmented.

Who were we?

Your son




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