In many ways, my return from Melbourne at the start of 1999 was the resurgence I needed, it was derailed to some extent by the HIV diagnosis, but once I managed to deal with the pills this really ceased to be an excuse.
I would just take myself off at the appropriate time, snarl at the array of poisons, dutifully swallow them and wait for the nausea to hit, before I would go back to whoever or whatever I was doing before.
Your attitude to the diagnosis was so typically Annie; “Ah well, you just have to beat it, don’t you”
You were at University from 1997 through to 1999, it was always fun to catch up with you and your electric group of Uni friends when you were in town. .
Your first job out of Uni in 2000 was at the Aboriginal preschool in Redfern. This was a tough initiation for any young person just out of Uni, but you immediately felt at home and fell in love with the customs and culture you were now immersed in.
This also meant you spent a lot of time with me in the City, there were many nights when going home to Mum’s was just too tough after a night out with friends. You did like a drink darling!
Your 21st in 2000 was a night to remember, a whole group of friends and relatives gathered at Mum and Douglas’s to celebrate with you. The violent storm which threatened to wreck the annex, erected for the night; was laughed off and the partying went on.
I remember two things about that night quite indelibly; one was the sheer joy, mad abandon and love for you which was on display and the other, was something totally warm and fuzzy which happened afterwards
I was not drinking much because it played havoc with my treatment so it had been arranged I would take Ossie and Esme back to their hotel after the party, and then, drop Bob to his house on my way home. Your Nan and Pop were incredible people as I have said before, but for people with little education, born in the pre-depression era; their power of forgiveness and tolerance was quite extraordinary.
We had finally bundled everyone in the car; Bob was in the front because of his gammy leg and Ossie and Esme were squeezed into the back seat of the Alfa, not somewhere anyone ever wanted to be.
The joy of the night had everyone in high spirits but, halfway to the hotel, Esme leaned between the front seats and started to talk quite seriously. I did not know what to expect, these good people had more reason to dislike me, than almost anyone. I had married their daughter and then let her down. From Ossie and Esme’s point of view, it would have been perfectly normal for them to have thought, I had deceived Sas and to have held this against me.
“Bruce, I just want to say something to you while we are together”
My heart was in my mouth, Bob was a dear, family friend but if I was going to be reprimanded, I would have preferred, he was not there.
“I just want to tell you how much we really appreciate you still being part of the kid’s lives and, for the support you have always given Sas”
You could have knocked me over with a feather; this was Esme, a woman of few words and a person to whom any display of emotion was foreign.
I don’t know what I said in reply, but the warmth of your night and the joy of what happened afterwards has never left me.
Darling, you have wandered the world, you have been, seen and done things many can only imagine, but you have always walked with a wonderful naivety and warmth.
The contrast between my two eldest daughters has always thrilled me. You and Jassy are like the two ends of a seesaw. Having one without the other, would make my life quite lopsided, but together you provide the balance I need.
Most of the time it works, LOL