It is 28 February 2017, my 65th Birthday. This is a milestone I was not meant to reach, certainly not in the state that I am.
I have just got off the phone to you, so you know all about the aches and pains, the bloody tiredness, the bladder, the dribbling and the loss of memory etc , thanks for listening darling, aren’t you sorry you asked?
I am nearing the end of this odyssey into my past and I am reflecting on the time, you and I have wasted over the years.
You and Terry plus your families are such a vital an integral part of my life now;, that I wonder why we spent so much time; not exactly distant, but not close either.
You arrived as the last of the family way back in 1960, you were my baby sister and I miss those simple days when I was, I hope; your protector against at least some of the vicissitudes of our very strange family.
You complain about being ignored by our parents, the rest of us reckon you were lucky!
Benign neglect seems preferable to the brutality of Dad and the mood swings of Mum in the years before and after you were born.
Terry says the family went to hell in a handcart after he was born and there is some truth in this, but the violence and betrayal I remember most about Mum, occurred before and after you were born. I was around 7 to 9 years old when the mother I adored, became capable of a frightening rage and cruelty I had never seen before.
Dad’s distance and role of an at times, violent disciplinarian had almost been taken for granted when I was younger. Mum had been my protector and confidant.
I was about 5 or 6 when Mum started withdrawing from the local community and sought solace in the world of art and music far removed from the introspection she saw in our near neighbours.
We were proud of our mother, but along with her search for independence, came an almost visceral hatred of the limits of her real world and a bitterness about her place in it
Was it post-natal or pre-natal depression? those things were not spoken about then and the best the doctor could recommend was that she take up smoking to “calm her nerves”
The tensions in that household when you were born were palpable and the worst thing I remember, is the complete uncertainty as to which mother or father would emerge every morning.
Bitterness breeds bitterness, Dad’s enforcement role was now often fuelled by violent rages as he tried to understand his diminished role in Mum’s life.
Hey enough of the amateur Psych lesson!
The important thing is, that despite distance and hard times, you and I never stopped loving each other, there was a bond in our childhood forged in steel.
I often chuckle when I recall the angst caused by your decision to literally run away with Rick. This was not the marriage envisaged for you by our parents. Why had they spent so much money sending you to an elite Sydney Private school for six years?
The marriage that was doomed to failure, is the only one of six marriages to have survived. There have been tough times and I am sorry I have not been the big brother I could have been at times.
My frequent business trips to Perth in the early nineties saw us start to rekindle our relationship and I was delighted when you made the effort in in 2002 to come across for Jassie’s wedding.
Three wonderfully independent and forthright children have caused you a certain amount of angst but an enormous amount of pride along the way to adulthood and now two grandchildren, with another on the way will keep you busy and besotted.
Of course, I know Amelia much better than either Tamsin or David, because of the time she and Kris have spent over east, but your whole family has become my family.
The times I have spent with you and Rick on both sides of the continent over the past eight years have been some of the happiest of my life.
I don’t know what is in the future, but I do know the unexpected hiatus in my condition has allowed this special time for you, Terry and I to roll away the years of neglect and indifference and come together as a family in ways I don’t think any of us ever envisaged.
That Madeline, Chloe and their families have joined us on this journey, is something that makes me wonder about the true power of family. Madeline has every reason not to be reminded of the past and, Chloe has suffered through her own series of demons.
This special time has given us all, the healing we needed. The past and the future have become things to be talked about, to be laughed at and occasionally, to be cried about.
No longer, are they to be feared or hidden from.
That can only be good