Remembrance Day

New Years Eve a couple D knew from St Andrew’s Cathedral Healing Ministry came around for dinner then went to the midnight service there with him. New Year’s Day he went out for the entire day playing tennis with a friend from the Pentecostal church which he had gone to when first in Australia. I was pretty hurt but could not get through to him that these were days for family. It was if I had insulted him somehow. I soon learned to avoid these kinds of discussions as the silence and sulking was too difficult and drained too much of my energy.

We went up to my parent’s farm for a few days and swam in the pool and D played snooker for hours each day. It was good to have the company and the space. Eventually D’s Christmas break was soon to finish so we returned to Sydney. My sister visited and K and A. C had started crying a lot, one time we stayed with A she observed it and suggested not laying him on his right side. It seemed to help, for a while at least.

However over the next few months he went into screaming fits, it was not colic, he was different when he had that. Dr Johnston referred us to an occupational therapist who dealt with sick children. She observed C at various times, when he was screaming and when he was just crying and also when he was not. She said she felt he was in severe pain and showed me how to do a therapeutic restraint on him. It was very difficult at first as my husband could not do it and seemed to resent that I could. However, it worked. C would eventually stop flailing and go to sleep, often for hours. A Canon at the Healing Ministry witnessed it one day and suggested to David that he pray while I restrained C. It helped D to feel useful and to claim that God was doing the work and the healing.

Over winter I knitted lots of sweaters for C and also started childminding a lovely pair of sisters for one week a month. C loved them and they spoiled him. It was fun and the money was handy as D’s job had finished, as IBM had said it would and he was believing in God to give him a job. With no expending of energy on his part at all. He went on the dole and often became dirty and dishevelled again.

One time my friend L from New Zealand stayed with us for two weeks, leaving her little girl with her grandmother. We had not seen each other for two years, D was very jealous and put out. One morning I was getting C out of his cot next to the bed and walking past the end of the bed. D kicked me really hard in the legs, saying go on, go talk to the her, having a baby is all you married me for anyway. I just shook my head and walked out of the room.

L returned to New Zealand and life went on as before, though C seemed to be having less pain attacks. And his eye had at some stage settled properly. No,explanation for why. However he was in and out of hospital with croup. He had to be in an oxygen tent which was difficult and frightening for him. D slept at night in the playroom and I stayed 16 hours during the day.

When he was 11 months old he started to do a very strange thing. He was sitting up and crawling, had reached all his milestones, however he kept getting knocked backwards by strange head movements. Violent ones which knocked his head repeatedly into the floor when he crawled. Dr Johnston arranged for him to come in and see her. D was able to come along as he was still waiting on God to give him a job. Dr Johnston had arranged an EEG, a skull X-ray and another brain scan, under anaesthetic. He was being tested for rare diseases and some of his rectal lining was being sent to South Australia for testing.

When he came out of the Cat Scan he was sore and crying. I sang him the song that I sang him every evening before bed.

Mummy loves you C C C
Mummy loves you C J
Daddy loves you C C C
Daddy loves you C J
Jesus loves you C C C
Jesus loves you C J
Grandma loves you C C C
Grandma loves you C J
Grandad loves you C C C
Grandad loves you C J
Jesus loves you C C C
Jesus loves you C J

And on and on until everyone in the entire world who loved him had been named in song. It really calmed him. I looked up mid song and the head nurse who worked with my friend A was standing near me, looking at C, crying. However his skull and brain were the same as before and his EEG was normal. He did not have the movements on the EEG unfortunately. Dr Johnston pulled no punches with us. For the first time she was very very direct with us, saying that his development and indeed his future relied on him outgrowing these by the age of two.

She said they were called Myoclonic Jerks and she did not know which kind they were. He started at around ten a day and was soon up to over a hundred a day. It was impossible to count them. They tried so very many drugs. He had to have blood tests weekly, luckily they used butterfly clips which were much easier for tiny children and babies. Over time the drugs caused his eyes to become dull and confused. His head hit the floor and walls so many times his pain worsened.

Then he was hospitalised for Croup for ten days when Dr Johnston was away. Professor Wise supervised him even though he was not in there for the jerks. The play room at The Prince of Wales Hospital was a wonderful place to meet other parents and to relax with a coffee for a short while. One of the nurses had a guitar she used to bring in and she used to sing lots of nursery rhymes in there. Her name was Kate too. A friendly, happy, gorgeous girl the children and parents adored. She regularly sang Old MacDonald Had A Farm and every parent would sing a different animal ie pig etc. I was so tired, so stressed, so unsupported that I dreaded that song, I went blank, could not remember what the last animal had been.

Kate the musical nurse noticed C crawling along the corridor, banging his head repeatedly. One day she saw Professor Wise talking to me. He was asking all about C and my pregnancy. And about his medical issues since last Christmas. She came over and told him she had seen the jerks and how awful they were for C. Professor Wise told her to get down on the floor and show him. Kate looked from him to me, then pulled her uniform dress up so she could move around and proceeded to act like a bucking bronco. He got her to do it for some time then said thank you, looking at me grimly. He then suggested a helmet to protect C’s head. This proved to be one of the worst experiences ever for our son.

I went with him after he had recovered from Croup, not having a clue what would be done. They had to make a Plaster of Paris Mould of his head to actually make sure the helmet fits properly.  Which meant totally covering his head down to his neck at the back and chin at the front. They put holes in for the nose but it was utterly terrifying for him. My laughing, happy, gorgeous boy who laughed when he was not jerking madly and after he had an attack of pain was hysterical. There was nothing I could do but croon to him that mummy was there. His special song did not even help. I prayed that I could be calm so that he could feel it in my body but he was beyond hysterical. It was on a long time, or it seemed to be. It had to set perfectly. Then it had to be cut off with electric saws. It was torture.

After that I phoned G, my specialist friend whose daughter had died of Leukaemia. He was terribly upset, asking if C had tissue sent to South Australia. He said he was so sorry, and to call him any time for support. He assured me C was under the best team and we had to take it day by day. I remembered him telling me I could have children, but not with anyone who had migraines or epilepsy in their family. I had found out after the wedding that D’s sister had migraines but there was no epilepsy. The doctors had been insistent on knowing that. I asked G how his new baby was going and he said well but slightly anaemic.

Soon my mother in law Sue arrived for a holiday. While she was there C was hospitalised to check his medications and jerks. He had a lovely Registrar who called him a Real Little Aussie Battler. He was very fond of C as was C fond of him. They used to play on the floor, rough and tumble together, C laughing with delight. One of the nurses had put a photo of C up on their notice board of regular children and babies. On it they had written “the happiest little boy, who smiles through his pain’

Sue upset me terribly when she told me that she felt so sorry for the mother whose baby was in the bed next to C. That she might not have more children due to her child’s genetic condition. She went on to say that her dear A in the UK was feeling sad because she did not know if she could have another two children as planned due to C and his “medical issue”. Sue would never say epilepsy or Myoclonus. It was dirty to her, shameful. She was talking more about the possibility of Neurofibromatosis. The day before it was C’s first birthday my parent’s came down to visit us, bringing gifts for C and seeing how the children’s hospital worked. Dad kept saying it must have been a Hotel first. I could not get it through to him that it was always a hospital.

The day after C was released from hospital was C’s birthday and we had a small party for family. A and W came, my sister came later. Neighbours loved him and popped in with gifts. It was a poignant day as A and her husband W were moving that week, north to Yamba, where they had bought a Caravan Park with her brother and his family. She had been such a huge support and such a dear friend, I would be lost without her. Nonreligious she had been a great antidote to all the fundamentalism I was dealing with at home and at the local church.

A few weeks after Sue arrived my husband had booked an appointment with the top clergy at the Healing Ministry at St Andrew’s Cathedral. There were several men, one I had met several times, a Canon who ran the Ministry there. They asked set questions about our belief and our faith in God the Father. In Jesus. In the Holy Spirit. And did we really believe God could heal and perform miracles. My husband said yes. I could not say that. I wanted C to be perfect. To be pain free. I had been concerned about migraines but they had always been a women’s thing in our family and D said there were none in his. They did not like that I could not say that God had already healed him 100%, that I just had not claimed it yet. By then I really wanted to get out of there. So next they asked me questions about how I had felt when C was in utero. Hammered me with it, until they finally accepted my quite angry assertion that he was a much loved baby from the time of conception to now. And I finished by saying I resented that men only were there and that my husband was not asked about how he felt about his baby. Canon G listened carefully then asked if C had been baptised. We said no, we were waiting for him to decide what he wanted later. When we said that he went very quiet then said that Baptism was also a Sacrament of Healing and he believed this was what was needed. None of the other things were relevant and he thanked me for my honesty. He asked how we would feel about that and we both said of course we would arrange it. He said to make sure he was invited as he would like to be one of C’s Godfathers.

While we were arranging the Baptism with our local church I found out that though I was on the pill, I had fallen pregnant. First I felt immense joy, then came fear and dread. When I attended the Anti Natal Clinic at the hospital the Registrar asked about my previous pregnancy and about the Pre Eclampsia. And asked how my blood pressure was now. It was not good as I was up nights since C started the jerks. They would wake him up from his sleep and he would be jerking for a few hours and playing as well. We watched music videos together on TV. He loved dancing with me to Dancing In The Dark by Bruce Springsteen and Uptown Girl by Billy Joel. He also loved watching Popeye dvds and had a fantastic Popeye doll. All this made me exhausted though. And before D had finally got part time work as a Home Care Aide I had gone out nannying, sometimes taking C with me. We needed money, the fridge was often almost empty except for C’s food which I made him from scratch.

The doctor asked about C’s health and then finally asked me if I wanted this baby. I said that I did but I just did not know how I could have it. My son needed me, I could not be in hospital for months. And I did not trust his father to look after him properly. She immediately said let us book you in for a Therapeutic Termination. It was arranged very quickly, and a date was set for the day after C’s Baptism.

My husband supported me in the Termination as did my family and his. He asked our local church Vicar to pray for us, which he did in his office. He was genuinely horrified for the choice I was facing and obviously his position towards abortion was known. He asked about the power of prayer to heal us and I said prayer was wonderful, it helped calm me, made me feel close to God but I needed practical help, and there had been none. So he prayed with us and we went home.

The next day we were in Bondi Junction shopping when we spotted a friend from church, a heavily pregnant mum who had been to our place many times for coffee and lunch. I was pushing C down the sloping ramp to K Mart when I saw her walking up. I called out several times and as we passed she turned her face away from me. Several people at church did the same thing so I asked the Rector and he said he had asked a few people to pray and some of them were very upset I was even contemplating it. As if it was just my decision, it was my body but it was our baby. I told him what happened and that I was very disappointed. And that I was going to attend a High Anglican church in future. He said he understood.

Mum and dad and my cousin E came down for the Baptism. K was going to be his Godmother. D’s sister A his other Godmother. Rod a friend from the church where we met was going to be his Godfather and I D’s Curate friend was also going to be his Godfather as well as Canon G. It was a lovely service celebrating the Sacrament of Baptism and C was also anointed with Holy Oil for The Sacrament of Healing. We then went back to our flat for refreshments, the cake was a disaster, but everything else was great, especially K’s home made scones. Dad was quite standoffish with Canon G especially when he found out he was brought up Irish Catholic. Mum loved him though. Sue and I liked him but found him socially odd. My teenage cousin had a fantastic time playing with C and meeting everyone.

That night when I went to bed D turned to me and said he was really sorry and I said it is okay. Then he went to sleep and I lay there for hours. Telling my baby goodbye. That I was so so sorry. I awoke early and caught a bus to the hospital. D had wanted to come but I could not think of anything but getting it over with. I could not talk to anyone, let alone babysit my husband. And though it was our baby it was ultimately my body and I really felt I was alone in this decision.

When I got there around 6am the day surgery waiting room was full of women trying to find out why they could not get pregnant, desperate for a family. Everyone was asking what everyone was having done. I pretended to sleep. At around five to eleven a wards man came to get me and I was positioned outside the Operating Theatre and left alone while the minute’s silence was observed. It seemed a lot longer and I was so grateful that the usual wards man was not there, I had seen him from a distance earlier and he had definitely seen me. He was a member of our local church, had been to our home many times and told us he always told women having abortions just before he wheeled them in that they could change their minds. He was also one of the ones the Rector asked to pray for me. When I woke up the nurses were very brusque and I was really glad when I was allowed to leave and I was soon home with my family.

The next day I walked C down to the hospital for yet another EEG. He had many of them and did not mind them as they had skull caps so that the electrodes were stuck on that not the actual head. It was a matter of keeping him still if possible. No easy task however this time we did not mind. He had non stop jerks for the first time while having a test. Dr Johnston read the results carefully and said that the results showed no unusual activity leading her to believe these might be the rare kind that goes at or by two. She could not say for sure but thought it worth taking him off all his drugs and letting time tell us how he would be. I thought that a great idea and went home, thanking God as I went for answering my prayers, not as others expected Him to but in giving me reassurance that these jerks at least might go and leave our little boy to have a normal childhood and life.

Over the next week Sue went to Tasmania with her in laws from Adelaide. I started to get awful pains in the pelvis and went to the women’s hospital to the Ante Natal Clinic. With all the pregnant women. They said it was an incomplete Termination and that I had a bad infection as well. Another D and C was scheduled for the next day. This time the nurses were very kind, Again I did not have the wards man from church. When I awoke I felt cared for and not judged, unlike the previous time. I then went home and my sister came over and stayed while Sue was away, cooking endless liver dishes etc to get my iron count up. She was really kind and helpful, I appreciated her coming so much. My parents rang me to make sure I was healing properly. They had wanted mum to nurse me up there but I needed to move on with my life here.

 

 

The Volcano Man

We settled back into life in Beckenham. Work as a nanny for me and also sewing and repairs at weekends. and sleeping in and lazing around for D. Miyoko stayed with us and went sightseeing and studying church matters. One day Sue phoned in the morning and finding me about to walk to work as was my usual way, furiously told D to get out of bed and take me in the car.

It was getting much colder and I only had a few warm outfits, having only brought one suitcase over with me to the UK. Mum had knitted me a beautiful black mohair coat which she gave to be before the wedding, and I had two coats. I had knitted us both several sweaters and also my nephews sweaters but had no warm woollen skirts or boots. My wages went on food and utilities, Sue paid for the rent. I was not at all happy about that.

After several weeks back from our honeymoon I started to get bad asthma attacks. They were especially bad at night, worsened by my sleeping by the window D insisted on keeping open. D called the church and a prayer team came out to pray for me one weekend when I was in bed exhausted from trying to breathe during the night. I was really upset as the men left the room and the women proceeded to commiserate about the shock that the physical side of marriage was. They tried to get me to confess that I could not cope with the sexual side of marriage but I was not going to do that. I was exhausted from working hard and trying to adjust to a new climate where I constantly had a bad cold or virus. As did the children I looked after.

I was fine in the daytime in a warm house and luckily had plenty of warm outer clothes for taking R to preschool and A for walks in his stroller. R was becoming more independent, choosing his own outfits for the day and A was just a delightful little toddler. One day D and I took them into Bromley to W H Smiths where David Attenborough was signing his new book. We queued and as we approached R saw who it was and said in an awed voice that it was The Volcano Man! David Attenborough was beyond delightful with the children and signed several of D’s older books too. It was a wonderful experience and one we would never forget.

Meantime I decided science was my best bet for getting better and luckily the GP practise Sue went to thought so as well. They ran a battery of blood tests and one day I received a letter in the mail asking me to come in as soon as possible. When I returned from the very knowledgeable and most senior doctor I informed D that I had a medical problem causing nearly all my symptoms. Hypothyroidism, which was found to be severe Hashimotos. I started the medication and was told that I would not feel so cold soon and that I would even notice an improvement in my periods.

By then it was almost Christmas and I was not feeling any better. So much so that A and T my employers suggested I take Wednesday’s off to rest. The boy’s godmother was more than happy to be with them one day a week and have some extra money too. This worked well apart from the loss of wages. D’s response was to ask his mother for more money. I was so uncomfortable with this, it was against everything I had ever done in my life. I never asked for anything. It was a principle of mine. Deeply ingrained in me by my parents without even knowing it. Seeing them both work so hard to make a life as migrants had a huge impact on me.

I was beginning to feel like the poor relation, especially when my sister in law came over to visit, usually on a Wednesday when I had a sleep in, and looked at everything in our flat to see what we were spending money on. She queried my hand creams, mostly gifts, and anything she saw that did not fit with her idea of Christian values. She used soap and water on her face. As I used eye makeup I needed makeup remover. Another wasteful item apparently.

Just before Christmas we decided to invite a few people from church with no family around for Christmas Eve drinks. We had bought the snacks and D always had a supply of beer and wine. Miyoko helped me clean and tidy the flat on the Wednesday so it was looking very welcoming. It had a huge lounge dining room with a sunroom attached. D had a table in there which he used as a desk for his writing. He was writing another book, having had trouble writing poetry that year.

I was at work til fairly late on Christmas Eve as A was preparing her staff for the Boxing Day Sales. The children were also very excited and happy, I was having a fabulous time with them as everyone was unexpectedly friendly when out on our walks. The spirit of the season really being in evidence. Eventually A came home and D picked me up in our car. When I entered our flat I was stunned to see that everything was ready for the get together.

All our lovely wedding gifts being used as platters and for the wine etc. Some things we had never used before. I almost burst into tears. I had really really wanted us all to do it together. Our first Christmas together, in our home, even if Sue was paying for it. I threw my things on a chair and went into our bedroom and cried. D came in and was really angry with me. Or hurt with me would be a better way to put it. It was as if I had hit him. He said they did it to help me as I was working. And that I had not appreciated it was practically sinful.

I was feeling a bit unwell in the tummy. I had recently nursed my boys through Campylobactor, a notifiable food poisoning. A had been dreadfully upset leaving them but when she saw R crawl into my arms and me rock him she left, crying. She said later that my skills kept them out of hospital. I had to keep fluids up to them as the risk of dehydration was so high. So I was appreciative of the thought but could not get through to D how I felt. He was so hurt. Betrayed.

Miyoko ran me a bath using some lovely bubble bath from Marks and Spencer’s and said she was so sorry. Two words was all it took. I hugged her and cried. She said “please Kate, you know if you cry I will lose it. I love you and hate to see you cry.” So I controlled myself, she had seen me weep bitterly after my father refused to come to the wedding. I had asked him twice and then got the message, but Miyoko was devastated as she knew it took a lot to make me cry.

I dressed and our guests came and we had a lovely time spoiling them, of course D invited his sister and brother in law and there was a lot of golly and gosh and other strange English words going on. Sue did not come as was disgusted with us for not keeping Christmas to family. What she refused to accept was that my family was the other side of the world, and these frigid strangers were not my family, and never would be.

Once the guests had left to go to other parties Miyoko and I washed and tidied up. We went to our rooms, D was in his office / sunroom so I changed and went to bed. After a while I started vomiting, then had shocking stomach pains. It lasted through the entire night. By the morning it was so bad D called our GP who came straight around and gave me an injection. He requested stool samples and said it was likely to be what the boys had been through. It would take time, and a quite a while to recover.

D went off to morning service with Miyoko and then asked if I would be okay while they went to lunch at his sister’s house. I was so ill I had no fight left in me so I said fine. Enjoy. When they left I was very distressed. Our first Christmas together, a huge fight on Christmas Eve with a husband who seemed to have no empathy at all and then I was left alone, proving that, in a strange country, on Christmas Day. I think I was too hurt and sick to cry. I was constantly on the toilet, though the cramps had eased with the medication the doctor had given me.

They came back around five and wanted to open their presents. I was in no state to do the same but was happy for them. I had knitted woollen leg warmers for Miyoko and a lovely jacket style cardigan for D. They were very happy with them though Miyoko showed me one of the leg warmers was longer than the other! I was mortified until we both started laughing. Me holding my stomach as I did so. I promised her I would fix it.

Over the next weeks D and Miyoko were home a lot more as all the church activities they had been attending were closed for the season. They were constantly at rally’s in London or locally. Miyoko showing real signs of a solid future in the church, D still saying he wanted one but not actively showing to any clergy that he was doing what needed doing to achieve that. I had actually had a meeting with our Vicar Clive as I felt terrible that I resented D being out so much when I was working so hard to put food on the table. He said it was not right and that David needed to support me more.

New Year’s Eve Miyoko braved Trafalgar Square. D stayed home and we watched it on television. I had been unable to keep any food inside me so was feeling weak and existing on special yogurt with live bacteria in it. Sue always went away over New Year with widowed friends. They generally chatted and drank for three days, great fun for them. D went over regularly to look after her dog and her pot plants.

Early in the New Year I went back to work and received confirmation it was Campylobactor, and would take some time to leave my system. The outbreak had been traced to birds pecking through the foil tops of milk bottles. I still could not keep anything in so was told to go onto thin soups, creamed rice and milky products. This went on for many weeks until I was finally able to tolerate more solid food.

Miyoko left us to go home to Japan. I was very upset seeing here walk through the gate at Heathrow, having an awful feeling I would not see her again. She carried an enormous sound system, and her guitar. When we next saw Anne all she could talk about was how bizarre it was for us to have a houseguest so soon in our marriage and how it would be much better for us now.

Around the same time I realised I had missed my period. Then another one. So we bought a pregnancy kit from the chemist and it was positive. D was excited but his mother was very vocal against it. Saying we had nothing to offer a baby. Anne was excited, saying God would provide. My employers said a baby would be good company for their little one once R was at school.

The GP confirmed my pregnancy and arranged for me to go to Ante Natal Care, especially important due to my Hashimotos being newly diagnosed. Everything went well though I was becoming more and more miserable with the cold and damp and D’s family. Sue kept telling me to stop talking about home. That this was home now, and she never allowed me to talk about my family or friends as that would unsettle me too. Stiff upper lip, the way she had got through the war as an Army nurse in Cairo. She had lost her first husband just after the war and though I very much admired her fortitude I found her attitude very inflexible.

D and I talked and he suggested he migrate to Australia. My parents would be his sponsors and he was sure he could get his old job as a computer data analyst with IBM back. I hoped so, though I had been shocked when I first came over to the UK to find he was not a computer programmer as he had said, he was untrained in fact and had been offered the job due to a friend from church.

We arranged Visas, went up to Australia House in The Strand and before too long he was accepted and we informed our families. Sue was actually happy, she said she thought Australia suited him better than the UK. Whereas I thought being away from his family was the best thing for him. It might help him grow up, he was like a big kid around them. Fun for a while but it got trying being pitied by everyone.

I started bleeding and was advised to have bed rest, and after two weeks I resigned as I still had no stamina due to the Hashimotos and the food poisoning. My employers wished me well but were not happy, especially since neither of them liked D. Though they were happy I was going home.

We visited D’s aunts and Sue’s many friends to say goodbye and finally we had packed everything and shipped our wedding gifts and some of D’s paintings and books to Australia. Then it was finally time to leave. Sue and Anne saw us off at Heathrow, I felt terrible seeing the real love and pain in their eyes, but we had our own lives to live, we had to make our own way together, or I would never be able to respect my husband.

 

 

 

 

A Sign Of Things To Come

After the service and photographs and reception we were finally able to think about getting ready to leave for our honeymoon. I changed in the not so glamorous toilets of the church hall. When I came out I gave the pearls back to Aunt Dot and saw the way she was eyeing my corset. I did not have to complete my question of whether she would like it or not! She grabbed it and held it to her, beaming.

I had changed into a sweater and a warm skirt and D into a sweater I had knitted him and jeans ready for the colder weather up north. I hugged mum and my grandparents and my flower girls and got into our little Morris Minor which had lots of beer cans tied to the front. And the usual ‘Just Married’ sign attached to them. We were excited to get away and needed to go before it was too late as we were aiming to stay in Nottinghamshire for the night.

Once we found the road north we took the signs etc off as we were being pursued by drivers who were actually holding tins of beer and drinking to help us celebrate. Total strangers. One guy in a Mercedes stayed with us a long way then waved goodbye. By then we were quite relaxed and chatty. Or I was. D rarely spoke unless it was about cricket or church matters, or his favourite topic, the Bible. We had not seen each other since the rehearsal and when I had seen him he was so stressed he almost knocked me over a few times. Being 6’5” to my 5’3” I had to be careful not to be underfoot.

We were very late, we were tired and almost went into a hotel in Peterborough but I encouraged D to try to get to The Blue Barn Farm where we were booked for the night. This was easier said than done though as it was very hard to navigate the empty dark lanes by night. As we were driving down yet another lane I suddenly had a flood of memory, triggered by the smell of the place. We needed to be near Mansfield, and we had been there when I was young, well before we migrated to Australia. It was incredible but I knew we were near by the smell, so reminiscent of my childhood.

Before too long we found the farmhouse. The proprietor had left the door unlocked for us so we sneaked upstairs, giggling, feeling like burglars. We knew it was a working farm and did not want to wake the farmer who had to rise early. After looking around we found an open bedroom door with twin beds. We could not find any other rooms with open doors so settled there for what remained of the night.

We woke early and made love on one of the single beds, and D made me laugh as he put my off white woollen coat on to go get a shower. Looked really freaky in it. I then went to get my shower and we went down to breakfast together. There was a fabulous spread and June the proprietor made us a full English breakfast. By then the room had emptied and she congratulated us and said she wished she had known beforehand as she would have given us a bigger room with a double bed. D asked her how she knew and she said as soon as we walked in it was obvious.

After that we headed north for Berwick in Northumberland. D had booked a cottage for three weeks. It had a lovely open fireplace which was needed as it was icy upstairs in the bedrooms. As it was so cold we made love in front of the fireplace quite often D seemed hypnotised by the flames and was often very loving and turned on when we were sitting in front of it.

From Berwick we visited Bamburgh Castle and Lindisfarne, where we had to drive across a causeway. I loved Lindisfarne, also known as Holy Island. We bought some gorgeous pottery from there and some prints to frame. I was entranced by the ancient weapons and by the formal and informal rooms inside the castles we visited in Nothumberland. We walked for miles through farmland to see ruins. I felt I could actually almost feel the spirits of the dead in those places. It was eerie.

The only issue I had, well two issues, were that D could walk for days on end, I was not able to do that due to my migraines. And a very personal issue, one that I had not thought of and wished that I had someone to talk to about it before the honeymoon. Everyone knew that honeymoons were a time to relax and enjoy each other but I was sore and constantly draining semen from the sheer frequency with which D made love to me. He was relentless and I could not have a bath several times a day. I did not think to wear pads or pantyliners. My undies were always sopping wet and I had irritation when peeing. I was actually really glad when my period arrived, and that is saying something as it was never a pleasant experience.

So my period and my birthday arrived around the same time. We were still in Berwick then. D bought me a pretty garnet pendant and earring set which I had seen in a jewellers in Bromley. It was lovely and the first jewellery apart from the ruby engagement ring he had given me. He also gave me lots of hand creams and talcum powder sets from Marks and Spencer’s. And my absolute favourite fudge, Cadbury’s fingers of fudge. I phoned mum in Chalfont St Peter as I knew she would want to wish me happy birthday. She started crying after a while and said she was going home. She was not going to wait til we got back so I could have time with her. I did my usual pacifying of her and saying it was okay but I was devastated. Mum and I had only had two short visits together. The day of the wedding, and when we saw her at the airport when she arrived, before she was taken home with my aunt.

A few days after that we drove up to the Scottish Highlands and stayed in a lovely bed and breakfast on the edge of a lake. With only a road between us. We also visited Loch Ness and Edinburgh, which I really loved. Then we headed back to Berwick where we were finding the cold in the cottage an issue and so we decided we wanted to get back and start our lives together. I had to go to work and wanted a few days in our new flat which Sue had rented for us while we were away. We had found a house to rent at a reasonable rate however D had a row of some kind with the owner who went to his sister’s church. So up until the wedding we had not known
whether we would be moving in with Sue when we got back or not.

When we arrived back D’s family thought us crazy to come back a few days early, and let us know it. We also discovered that Sue had opened our wedding photos and gone through them. She appeared baffled that I was surprised she would open something addressed to me. And actually said that I could not expect her to wait, surely?

I went upstairs and left D to go through them with her, I had wanted to look through them with my husband, and then with family. Seeing my mum in the photos without her being here was too difficult for me. The only fun thing about being there was that Miyoko had stayed there to keep Sue company after Jean left. It was lovely to see her again. She said however that it had been difficult, that Sue was very biased about the Japanese because of the war. And she made it quite clear to Miyoko. I was horrified, but it was a sign of things to come.

 

I Walked On, Into My New Life

I was woken by Sue around eight the morning of the wedding. She brought a mug of tea up which still had the tea bag in the bottom of it. We all had a busy day ahead of us, especially Sue and Aunt Jean who were preparing a buffet for my Grandparents and Aunts Uncles and cousins when they arrived later that day.

My grandparents had arrived and were staying with Aunt P and mum in her huge home in Chalfont St Peter, whereas my aunt and family were driving all the way from Lincolnshire that morning. My future mother in law was looking forward to meeting them all when they came over before the wedding.

Miyoko arrived and we chatted upstairs. I did not say anything to her about her Maid Of Honour dress. I had decided the best way to deal with it was to ignore it. So I did. I had no intention of battling thousands of shoppers to look for something hideous when we had a stylish outfit already.

My mum and grandparents arrived with my aunt P and uncle P and their son and his girlfriend. Everyone was very excited, they had worn their wedding outfits as did not have far to travel. Finally aunt Dot and family arrived from Lincolnshire. A four plus hour drive. They had their clothes in garment bags. I had sent three velvet dresses from Marks and Spencers so the girls could get their right size. Dot had bought them white satin ballet slippers which was a stroke of brilliance. The girls were so proud and happy. As was I of them. I had babysat them as toddlers and now here they were, my flower girls.

We had a light lunch from the buffet my soon to be mother in law and aunt provided. My grandma chatting away to Sue and Jean animatedly. Not bad for a late eighty plus woman. I was so proud of her. And grandad, well he walked around beaming his head off. Inspecting the antiques and nodding at everyone. He had a huge cigar tucked in his pocket for after the wedding.

I had seldom felt such excitement, such joy in the air for me. Everyone was smiling and chatting and delighted that the day had come when I would finally be tied down! If I was not so terrified I would have been really happy for them all.

Then at some stage of the early afternoon their joy, their delight, their happiness somehow transmuted itself to me and I did feel calm. And fully committed to making a go of this marriage.

We took a lot of photos in the garden before we changed clothes then I went upstairs with mum and my aunts and Miyoko and started to change. My dress was almost off the shoulder so I had bought a french lace corset with suspenders attached so I needed a lot of help getting into that. It was very sexy, beautiful lace at the top but a smooth body so as not to show through the silk fabric. D practically put her foot on my back to get me into it. I was laughing hysterically so was Miyoko which did not help matters. Finally I smoothed on the white stockings and stepped into my sixteen centimetre white pumps. Then the dress slithered over the top. Some adjustment of neckline, sleeves and belt and then only makeup and hair to be done. Aunt Dot said you cannot have a bare neck Kate and she just happened to have a spare rope of pearls for me to wear. So that was my something old and borrowed. Mum tucked a blue embroidered hankie into my corset so that was the blue. The new was any number of things I had on!

Everyone oohed and ahhed and said that I surely did not make that dress. Had to be next to impossible. I smiled and flounced and spun to showcase the metres and metres of lace on the hem. I had wanted it to be just above the ankle and it was perfect.

As was Miyoko’s, her dress a perfect contrast to the deep ruby velvet of the flower girl’s dresses. Also different in texture and shape. We thought it all stunning and might even start a trend in toning rather than matching wedding clothing.

Not only did the dresses contrast we were thrilled when the fresh posies for the mothers and the girls and Miyoko and my flower bouquets arrived in the early afternoon. They were spectacular. The red roses in ours could not have been an deeper, the white any brighter. The event company had done a magnificent job.

My hair was easy, I had washed it and blowdried it, all I had to do was apply makeup and put the fairy type headpiece on my hair. And secure it. The girls were ready to go. My aunt D was so stunning in peach silk with a feathered fascinator. We had always gone shopping together, I knew she would be magnificent and she was. She was putting her makeup on and she turned to mum and said you do not have to worry about Kate Pat, she has done very well for herself. D is well brought up. Not like us, we were dragged up, not brought up.

Mum wore a gorgeous powder blue silk chiffon dress and never had a smile off her face the whole time. She kissed me once and said it was the happiest day of her life. That she thought that I would be turned off marriage forever by her’s and dad’s example. I just hugged her tight.

Sue wore a midnight blue lace dress she had worn to her daughter’s wedding about eight years previously. It was beautiful though I found it a bit odd she did not get a new dress. She somehow managed to get changed into it, her large room had been converted to a dressing room for my family.

Then it was time for everyone to leave, except grandad and I. Our white Rolls Royce arrived, looking every bit the luxury wedding vehicle I had seen in magazines. Grandad very carefully helped me into the car, then seated himself. On the way he turned to me and said it was the proudest moment of his entire life. To see me marry, and into such a good family. The few neighbours who were not invited to the wedding stood and gave us an honour guard. Grandad said he felt like royalty.

We arrived at the church, people were being ushered inside and the bridal party was waiting outside. Grandad helped me out of the car. Made sure my dress was in position. Held out his arm and beamed at me. Said come on my beauty (booty) Lincolnshire style and we followed my future nephews in their navy sailor suits. My cousins in their ruby red dresses. And Miyoko looking so beautiful and exotic in her plummish red dress and super high heeled white pumps.

The vicar greeted us at the door and Grandad and I and the party turned around once at the door to look out at the world and the car and we then stepped onto the red carpet to the sound of everyone standing up, beaming with joy. I could see my precious boys with their dad T at the back of the few people I had on my side of the church. As I walked past I turned and beamed at them and all my lovely relatives who had made such an effort to help mum and I on my special day. I walked on, with Grandad, into my new life,

 

 

 

What Had I Gotten Myself Into?

I arrived at Heathrow on a sunny Sunday in spring and though smelly and jet lagged was taken to D’s sister’s church. Very friendly bunch and his sister and brother in law hugged me. I then went back to meet and stay with his mum Sue. Who was quite the handful. Very sociable. Very talkative. Very surprised that I did not have the usual Australian accent. Staying with her was her sister in law Jean who was visiting from Adelaide. She was a lot of fun and after a bath I crashed in a single bedroom next to Sue’s room. It was a full house.

Within two weeks we caught the train and ferry to Northern Ireland to visit D’s best friend Ian, only friend really, in Belfast. He was a Church of Ireland Vicar. His wife Gail was lovely. They took us out and about, showed us The Falls Road and we were shocked to be approaching bridges to find them suddenly being secured by the military. Ian had severe asthma and went into a full blown attack one time when this happened. Gail was very good with him but she was having serious and distressing issues with miscarriage after miscarriage.

After a week we caught a train down to county Mayo and hitch hiked from there to my grannie’s place in Geesala. We caught lifts with three cars, the last one dropping us off in the village. People started calling out hello Kate as we went by! When we got to grannie Kate she was waiting at the gate, the second driver had phoned the pub ahead and word had gone out that T’s daughter was over from Australia. With an Englishman.

Staying there was an utter delight. My uncle John and grannie Kate welcomed us as if it was my home. D endeared himself to grannie by cooking her a full English breakfast the next morning. He then excused himself to go climb the nearest mountain and sleep out for a few days.

I had so much fun. Was so spoiled. So beloved. Thrilled to be with my grannie again. Talking about world events. Family. Faith. Nothing was off the table. I slept in her spare bed in her room and listened to her talk to God before she went to sleep every night. Totally freestyle, no Hail Mary’s etc.

Eventually D returned from his mountain and Grannie gave him her blessing, even though he wanted to become a Church of England Vicar! She said dad could not critique as he rarely went to mass, he did not fool her when he came over and pretended he was used to the mass. She cooked a leg of lamb and roast potatoes etc. We had many cups of tea from the kettle in the hearth and toast browned there with the long fork. Her homemade butter was even better than I remembered.

We decided to hitch hike north and managed with only three lifts. The last one in a Mercedes with a businessman who seemed a bit surprised that I was with D. He had been talking on a level D did not seem to grasp, or did not want to. I was not flirting, however I held my own in the conversation.

Once we reached Belfast safely we stayed a few more days, did a bit more sightseeing then caught the ferry and bus back to London and then Kent. When we arrived back Sue and Jean had left for their holiday. D prepared a special meal and formally asked me to marry him. I accepted and we lay on the floor and started to kiss and cuddle. This went on for some time until I stroked his penis through his trousers. He cried out, loudly. I asked him if he wanted to go upstairs. We went up and made love on one of the single beds in his room.

The next day we decided to put the mattresses together on the floor and made love there and he really liked us to make love on the sofa downstairs with the curtains open for anyone to see. We seemed to have no inhibitions. I wore dresses so it was easy to take my knickers off the minute we got inside the house. I threw them off on the way through and straddled him as he sat on the sofa. The dress came off and the bra and I really went for it. He loved me to be on top and I loved the feeling of being filled so deeply and having control. I climaxed far more than I ever had in the past.

His sister popped over one day while we were out and must have seen the mattresses because she left us some church tracts on being celibate until we married. She also left the name of a GP to get the pill from. I was astounded and pissed off. D was confused and guilt ridden. He thought what we were doing was sinful. I however thought it was the closest I had ever been to him, especially as he was so different in his home country. Distant and cold and nasty at times.

He put the mattresses back as his mum and aunt were returning soon and he visited me in my room which I found really difficult. I am a little loud when I come and a few times I climaxed so hard I almost screamed. She would have heard everything. He seemed to like that idea, made it more exciting for him. Not for me though so I asked him to wait until the house was empty. We were almost caught once. I was straddling him on the sofa. He was attached to my breast and I heard a giggle and a voice saying it’s just auntie, I forgot something. She was so much fun.

I went north to see my mum’s family and D decided to go down to Cornwall where he had stayed many times in the past. The journey to Lincolnshire was a long convoluted one. An intercity train to Grantham and then a coach to Skegness. Then a bus through Mablethorpe to Sutton On Sea. My grandparents were great fun and excited that they were going to be coming to my wedding. Grandad was going to give me away. My young cousins were so excited about being my bridesmaids. Grandma said for the first time that finally I would not be travelling the world and the UK by myself. That it had always worried her for my safety. My aunt D said at least this time I was marrying the man I was with in England. She said that every time I came over I had a different man in tow. I said that is funny cause mum brought me up on stories of all your boyfriends. She laughed wickedly. I really loved her, she was so attractive, a hairdresser, tall and very glamorous.

After a few weeks I returned to Kent and started a nanny job in the same town, Beckenham. Interestingly our lovely Vicar in Sydney originally came from there. My employers were a fashion buyer for Debenham’s in Bromley and the fish buyer for Marks and Spencer’s. They had a very clever boy at pre school and a gorgeous toddler. They lived in a three story townhouse, it really kept me fit.

One problem that surfaced then was that the father really disliked D. Especially since D had shown no real inclination to get a full time job. He spent most of the summer smoking cigars in his mother’s garden and doing some gardening jobs. The positions he applied for always seemed to interfere with his weekend requirements of going to church etc.

We went ahead with the wedding, planning it for late September. By then we had found a church we liked and were involved in Pastoral Care there. Or I was. I was so busy with work and the church that I employed a wedding event management team. It made everything really easy for me. I just had to buy the bridesmaids dresses and my future sister in law was buying the sailor suits for her two mischievous boys. We were also expecting my Japanese friend Miyoko to arrive just before the wedding from Sydney. She would be looking after my lovely boys while we were on honeymoon.

My mother’s favourite sister P lived only fifty minutes or so away by car so we often visited her. Sophisticated, cultured and incredibly warm, she welcomed D into the family and was very excited that mum would be staying with her until we returned from our honeymoon and then for some time afterwards. Her two boys were grown up now, I had a lot of fun with them in 1975 when I visited the UK and they were excited that they were coming to my wedding.

I met D’s aunt and uncle in Sevenoaks Kent several times. The second time was after we became engaged. His aunt was a top nursing sister. When I was helping her with the washing up she pulled me outside into the scullery and asked me if I knew what I was getting myself into. I assumed she meant his family. They seemed to be very controlling and ridiculed him a lot. So I said yes and I thought it would be okay. She frowned at me but said she hoped I knew what I was doing.

D endeared himself to everyone, it seemed effortless. Always friendly, charming, gentle and kind. Except at times to me. There was one occasion where I actually walked out of his sisters and started to walk back to his mum’s. Late at night. His sister and brother in law had been having a barbecue and D got quite drunk. At some stage he started saying I liked him to go deep. Right up to the hilt was what I had said and he repeated, like an obscenity. I had said it to him. In a passionate moment. Not to be shared with religious bigots. S actually laughed but I was furious. And I left.

After that he said God did not want us to have sex again until after we married, that we were sinning and needed to confess. I thought that was a load of rubbish but went along with it. He became quite distant again, sarcastic at times. Miyoko arrived from Sydney and stayed with his sister. She came over a lot and learned where R went to school and the routine I had with the boys. Mum arrived, so very very excited bless her. It was a huge accomplishment coming all the way from Australia by herself.

Meantime I worked right up to the day before the wedding, we needed the money and it helped take my mind off my doubts, my fear, the awful feeling I had that I was making a big mistake. I also sewed my wedding dress right up to the evening before the wedding. It had so many metres of lace, over twenty, to be carefully gathered and stitched to the white silk. I had a lot of time while sewing to think as well.

The night before the wedding D’s sister had a big party for the friends and family of the groom. My mum was fifty minutes away by car, I had only seen her twice in the two weeks she had been here and I really missed her and my family and friends in Australia. I made an excuse to sew a belt for my dress so I did not have to go. Miyoko was really concerned by then, she had commented that this was not the D we knew in Australia, so she stayed with me. My future mother in law Sue and aunt Jean drank gin and tonics steadily through the evening, and then once Miyoko had gone back to A’s house and I was settled upstairs with a coffee Sue came upstairs and said that the dress Miyoko and I had carefully chosen in London was totally unsuitable. That she could not allow it as it would ruin everything. Miyoko was curvy so Sue brought out a flowered Mui Mui and said she needs something like this. To shut her up I said I would go shopping in the morning. She said wonderful and kissed me. I ran a deep bubble bath and soaked in it, crying my eyes out, wondering what on earth I was doing, what I had gotten myself into.

 

 

 

Beyond Heartbreaking

Early in 1980 I started working in a large home on Edgecliffe Road helping with a little boy and girl as well as being a housekeeper. They were a Jewish family with the father a barrister and the mother a bitch. After a month I realised I could cope, even with my migraines, so I cancelled my pension.

Mornings I got up 30 minutes before I needed to be downstairs so I could take my pain medication. Some days I used to have to roll out of bed and carefully stand until my head stopped pounding. The work was light but it was a huge home. I was given three hours off in the daytime so I rested then.

The father had a lot of male work colleagues over. I ate with the family so got to know a lot of them. The father one day made me guess who fancied me. I had no idea. He told me his married brother fancied me something awful and wanted to go to bed with me. However the brother was always appropriate with me. I tried to laugh it off saying it must be because his wife is pregnant. My employer said no he is besotted with you. Not sure what he expected me to do, it was not in the interview that I has to screw the relatives.

I took the kids out Saturday afternoons so the parents could have private adult time together. Sunday was my day off. I did the usual light housework and for fun I baked cakes and cookies and they were so happy with them that they got me to cater the children’s birthday parties.

I ran into Stuart my school friend again as he lived on Edgecliff Road, he was managing Chadwick’s Modelling Agency then. After a few months I could not put up with the mother’s impossible standards for such little pay so I went to Dial an Angel in Lindfield and was offered a position straight away because of my nursing experience. The position was until the mother who was very ill in RNS Hospital could recover and feel well enough to cope with her child herself.

It took about three months before she was well enough to come home. The family were in Point Piper, a little boy M, father R with J the full time Hungarian housekeeper during the week. M tried throwing tantrums etc when I was watching television or playing jigsaw puzzles with his mother. We ignored him and after a few weeks he stopped and became very affectionate and cooperative.

E and I walked daily to help her get her strength back. It was very hard, she was proud and very determined. So I was basically a nurse and a nanny and I had all day to myself once he was in school. During school holidays I took M out and about and arranged for friends to come over.

Bridge was an obsession with the parents,  their whole social lives revolved around it. They would get in quite late at night smelling of cigar smoke. E was a Type One Diabetic and poorly controlled, because of her hypos she often seemed drunk. I had to make her drink orange juice a lot.

R was very hard on her, the housekeeper told me when we had coffee together after R left with M for school that R kept saying to E at the breakfast table: look at Kate why can’t you look like her in the morning? She has bright eyes, is smiling, alert. And I was also twenty five years younger! Talk about pressure on her. She was on sleeping tabs and Cerepax. It is a wonder she could get up at all.

The school M attended was a top private one, The Dover Heights boys I had looked after attended there too. J was in M’s class which was taught by the Deputy Head who said apart  from him, my boys were wonderfully brought up! We went to concerts and I met wonderful mothers. I had weekends off so went home every second weekend, sometimes M came with me. He loved it and my parents and aunts and uncles loved having him visit.

I learned biofeedback and self hypnosis to try to help with the migraines. One day I had just come back from a session when my bus stopped outside Sydney Museum. I looked around and saw Dr G my old flame walking towards the bus. I tried to look as if I was not there but G knocked on my window and signalled for me to come out. So I got off the bus to talk to him. He wanted to know what I was doing and he asked to see me again. Gave me his card. I did not rang him.

Over the summer holidays the family always went to Switzerland to St Moritz. R went with us then left after a few weeks. E, M and I stayed six glorious weeks. I met lots of lovely people who were regulars and became good friends with a Jewish family from Miami. Their elder son had become religious, so their two boys were in a Yeshiva in Miami. Fabulously wealthy unassuming family who included M and I in everything, especially joining them for dinners.

I went to the disco in the Palace Hotel where we stayed. Lots of businessmen I danced with tried to get me into their rooms. They had no success though I did have a fantastic 36 hours with a funny intelligent guy from LA. We spent a lot of time in the bath where he used the shower nozzle to stimulate me. We had a lot of really good sex, with some booze and a lot of humour. We exchanged addresses.

Only thing I did not like about the place was that my migraines were much worse there, started as soon as I got into the alps. Took weeks to adjust to the altitude. M and I also had the worst flu we had ever had. We existed on mashed potatoes and scrambled eggs for about five days as our throats were terribly sore. The doctors prescribed some great spray on products for our throats which we did not have at home.

One night after that I was woken by a burglar going through the top drawer where our passports etc were. I shouted and the person ran, they had a nightgown on so I did not know if it was a guest or staff. I tried to wake E but could not rouse her due to her sleeping tablets. Eventually we returned to Australia and R, who had returned there earlier for business, met us at the airport.

R was away a lot on business and E and I bonded over a love of reading. She put me onto Edna O’Brien and a lot of feminist writers. I had a lovely time helping her with afternoon teas for friends, with petit fours from a special cake shop in Double Bay. She seemed quite happy in the mornings when R was away. And no wonder, without R hounding her about her looks.

I used to go to Piano Bars in the city on Friday or Saturday nights when I did not go to the farm. I really loved Streets of London by Ralph McTell and any Billy Joel songs. I dated the head of security at one huge hotel. He was intrigued because at first he thought I was a hooker but when he saw I never left with anyone he invited me out. Divorced and incredibly cute and sweet, ex UK SAS. He was so sweet and gentle in bed too. I was in the Piano Room talking with some QC friends I knew when news came through about the death of John Lennon. There was shock and deep sadness in the room.

When E felt strong enough to look after M with only weekend help I went back to Dial an Angel and did short term nannying work. I liked it, though I got one pig of a man who did not understand the difference between a Nannie and a slave.

I was in Potts Point in winter several months later, looking after a gorgeous 18 month old girl and her step sisters on alternate weekends. I loved this adorable little girl, I had knitted her coats and sweaters and taught her mum how to finish off the neck of a little red pinafore dress she had knitted. Her mum took me shopping and bought me a beautiful dress in appreciation. The first time I ever saw a Target was on the North Shore with this family. I was stunned at the size of it.

The housekeeper L, who was an ex prostitute, became a friend. We used to go out on my days off to movies and late at night for coffees. And as she was bisexual I would go to gay clubs with her to keep her company. She really loved dancing to Bowie. By herself. I bumped into an Ansett friend C that I had crewed with for a month and had no idea then that she was gay. We hugged and chatted for ages. L was very patient with my questions about what were natural sex acts and which were unnatural. We had a lot of fun flirting and bonding.

I used to take the toddler for walks in her stroller through the park in Potts Point. On Sundays it was always quiet and the song by Kris Kristofferson ‘Sunday Morning Coming Down’ was on the airwaves a lot. I identified with that song and bought several cassettes of his.

I bad toothache for two days and L took me to an after hours dentist where he removed two molars and had a lot of trouble doing it. Swore his head off as blood poured out everywhere. He had to go get another dentist to help him. I had shocking pain after that so my lovely employer got me an appointment with her orthodontist who spent weeks picking bits of bone out of my jaw.

Mum and I used to phone each other alternate evenings and she suddenly rang me when it was not her day, she was crying and said it was on the evening news that E was missing, and may have been kidnapped. I rang R to wish him the best and offer help. My employer gave me a sleeping tablet that night and tended to the little girl herself. She was so kind. A few days later they found E in a hotel. She took too much insulin and cut her wrists and throat in the bathtub.

I phoned R and the housekeeper J said Kate come home. Please. I explained things to my employer. She was heavily pregnant and already had employed a nursery nurse for the first few months to help me with the new baby and the nurse agreed to come sooner. The dad was a lovely person but very distant as had been very hurt by first wife who was a Walk Away Wife. Took the children without a word. He came home from a business trip and they had all gone. He also had a very bad back. Often in bed on strong pain killers. So I had not had much to do with him, but he wished me well.

So I went back. L drove me over. I was engulfed by M. Hugged by a heartbroken and confused R. Nobody knew why she had done it. I knew she had been consumed by memories of the Military searching her mother’s rooms. Lying hidden terrified under the bed. Before I left the time in Hungary consumed her. Her mother’s silences while she was hidden. And later on that was her way of punishing her, with days of silence.

E had been late to motherhood and had found M hard to manage. He was reacting to the constant high expectations of his father, her encouragement and my positivity had been obliterated by this man’s negativity. I had worked really hard to help him get the award for achievement for the previous year. The teachers were thrilled. As was M and his mother. Then an exam result came back, it was 98%. Not good enoug for his father. He wanted to know why it was not 100%. I thought he was joking at first but he was not.

I met K there who worked weekends. We became good friends despite the five year age difference. She was on a Gap year, trying to decide whether to be a teacher or a Social Worker. She volunteered with Anglicare and nannied which was a good foundation. She was a joy though quite messy. Eventually I wrote and told the Miami family and they wrote back and said wonderful things about E and our time in St Moritz.

I continued to go to Piano Bars and I met a few QCS who had kids my age, bored, wanted company for drinks and for dinner sometimes. No sex, just nice friendships. Saw the Australian cricket team a few times. Just missed Neil Diamond when he came in for drinks. I was so used to going to bars solo as with Ansett we went to the ones in our hotels. The piano players at these hotels in Sydney used to stop and say hi when they saw me shopping in the city. Automatically played As Time Goes By for me when I walked in.

At home it was a very difficult time when R opened bottles of sauce and found the lid ajar. Bursting into tears, then angry with her for always doing that. Bewildered, betray and bereft. M was so happy I was back but very confused, he was not told about the suicide, but he had always been frightened of kidnapping, as had E, due to their wealth.

The parents from the school were absolutely brilliant. They invited M around a lot. I went to them for lunches and morning teas. I became family. M and I continued to do what we had enjoyed before. We went with his friends to see any naval ship or submarine that was in port. I did not wear trousers then so navigating ladders with sailors around was interesting to say the least.

One of my jobs was to take him to his grandmothers for tea in their lush apartments each week. Totally different world as they came from very old wealth in Hungary, I am glad I had my Air Hostess and my mother’s training to help me. There was a lot to share with them about school and M and his friends.

I had another D and C at Crown Street Women’s Hospital for heavy bleeding and clotting. I had to insist on K taking over for a week, it did not occur to R that I was an employee and entitled to sick days. Eventually M needed grief counselling and the counsellor told me I was doing an amazing job however, there was one thing she saw that she felt I would also see once they returned from the overseas holiday at the end of the year. M and his dad and his oldest cousin were going to St Moritz. I looked after the house so J could have a holiday.

K invited me to her dad’s at Goulburn for five days so I caught the train from Central just prior to Xmas. Such a lovely dad and I had a fabulous time seeing where she came from. I helped her choose a jumpsuit for when we went into Canberra to see Hair. And for wearing to parties etc. We also went to wine bars and met up with a lot of the instructors from the Police Academy nearby. One day we went right out into the country. I finally went home to the farm Xmas eve. It was an eight hour trip and I loved every minute of it.

After New Year I went back to mind the house. My boyfriend at the time was a nightclub manager and he came over a lot. We made out all over the house, apart from the bedrooms, there was a white shag pile carpet so we really enjoyed that. He took M and I out a lot once he got back. M said this boyfriend really loved me but I found him too needy. Turned me on but I would not sleep with him as it would not have been fair to lead him on. He was already talking about a future together. He was too English and desperate to settle down.

I had sole charge of M a lot as R went away to the Phillipines etc on business. He always had bodyguards over there.and brought me back the most marvellous gifts. Metres and metres of silks to make dresses. He also told me the designs I would look good in.

I found it very uncomfortable at night as I would leave my door ajar in case M needed me, he was having nightmares. R used to come in at 2 am from Bridge and he would stand in my doorway looking at me sleeping. Or pretending to sleep. He was also arranging for the house to be renovated with an adult wing and a wing for M. I found that a bit odd and had a strange experience as if E was trying to talk to me. I would sit with M in the sitting room attached to his parent’s bedroom where they had always watched tv. It was a very strange atmosphere. I could not describe it but I felt she wanted me to leave. Or I would never get away from the family. This was the strangest feeling, because I was an Atheist and did not believe in spirits of any kind. Perhaps it was intuition, I do not know, it could have been the self hypnosis and biofeedback deepening my intuition, but I was simply driven to give my notice.

I arranged to stay to organise Mark’s sleepover birthday party. I was really foolish in allowing them food in the bedroom. The boys were shocking, two thirds of them terribly naughty, throwing food and grinding it into the white shag carpet. The other third were so sweet and helped me clean it up with soda water. The good boys slept on the floor in my room, they were very fond of me and it was reciprocated. Adorable boys. D picked J up, he was one of the really naughty ones. And the only one who did not apologise.

R and I had told M not to worry, we would still keep in touch, do things together. Go up to the farm together, go to movies etc. We were both looking forward to it. However his mother’s mother, in front of us both said that Kate will be going, she will not be coming here again. M got down on his knees, wrapped his arms around my legs crying and begging me not to go. As I moved he was dragged along the carpet. R just looked mortified, clearly she was in charge.

I took her lead and left. It was awful. Beyond heartbreaking. I caught the train to Maitland and cried quietly all the way home.

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I Land On My Feet

I stayed home in Noraville for a few weeks then applied for various nannying positions with families in Sydney. I interviewed with several and decided on a lovely family with three boys under five years of age. The interview was held in Centrepoint Shopping Centre in Sydney CBD as the parents had two fabulous clothing stores there, Shim and Shives. I met the parents there as they had an incredibly busy career and I was offered the job on the spot. The father Des was a little concerned by my youth but the mum Daphne and I hit it off straight away. She intuited I was more mature than my years and knew I had a younger brother who I had half brought up. I really landed on my feet with this position. My recent nursing experience and background in working with children also helped. My sister picked me up at Central Station and dropped me off after introducing herself to the family. My mum had been in touch with her and asked her to look out for me.

They lived out at Dover Heights in a massive art deco mansion complete with outdoor pool and a converted ballroom which was used as a games room. They also had three boxer dogs, a mother dog and two bitches. Unfortunately these gorgeous dogs became a pack when anyone unknown approached the fence let alone the door. When my sister and I arrived Des had locked the dogs securely in the ballroom. I was introduced to the three most gorgeous boys, under five years of age. Stunning looking in the English way with blondest of hair and blue eyes. Totally different in personality. The oldest Justin a sweet caring boy already at Preschool three days a week. Jake the eighteen month old a bundle of mischief and delight. And Jackson, a gorgeous little boy of nine months, a treasure.

I was given a room downstairs and had the run of the house. They were an ultra modern family, really ahead of their time. Des was totally supportive of Daphne who was a feminist. Though he did not do housework etc. Then again Daphne did not do any either. They employed cleaners from a top agency. I cooked the children’s dinner for five pm, they were already bathed and had usually almost finished their food when their parents arrived home at 5.30 every night but Thursday’s, which was late night shopping. Everyone had finished eating but Jake who just loved to try me on over his vegetables. I adored them all but he was so mischievous that I had a special place for him in my heart.

After a little while the agency sent out a young English single mum named Lesley to clean the house. We got on so well immediately that Daphne arranged for her to look after the two youngest on Thursday mornings so I could go shopping. I loved it, catching the double decker bus to Bondi Junction, going into Myer which was amazing compared to the Waltons Store where I had shopped in Gosford. There were lots of boutiques and Italian style coffee lounges. The Mall had not been built yet and it had a wonderfully eclectic atmosphere. Sometimes I took the baby Jackson with me, he was as good as gold and loved bus trips. The bus conductors were really helpful too in getting the strollers off the buses. It was so much fun and so different to anything I had experienced before. I gradually built up a nice wardrobe of accessories from Bondi Junction to match the wonderfully huge camel kid leather shoulder tote bag Daphne and Des gave me as a thank you for the extra babysitting I did once a month so they could go gambling in Double Bay.

In a matter of weeks Lesley and I became firm friends. It was approaching winter and Daphne and Des needed extra sewers to hand sew the leather buttons on their amazing range of kid leather jackets and coats. I asked them if Lesley could come over to dinner with her little boy and Daphne and Des immediately loved her and offered her a substantial amount of extra cash to sew these buttons on in her spare time. I used to go over to her place one night a week and help her with her backlog, sewing being my forte!

While working there I used to go home to Noraville on Saturday afternoons on the train and get the 4.30am train back Monday morning. I was young and fit enough to do it though it was starting to get really cold at that time of the day. Daphne and Des surprised me with a beautiful camel coloured, fitted to the body, three quarter length kid leather coat. The coat matched the tote bag they had given me and was way nicer than the one I had in London in 1970, I still had that but it was heavy and hurt my shoulders. I eventually kept the old suede one at Noraville to use there if a friend suddenly needed a jacket.

Lesley and her son came up one long weekend to stay in Noraville. Her son was a similar age to my young brother and got on brilliantly with him. While mum looked after the children I took Lesley to Budgewoi Pub and from there we went to a friends house where everyone sat around and smoked dope. She kindly said no thanks but go ahead and I was really impressed at how she communicated with all the surfers there. They were mostly from Sydney, some I had known for years who were locals and most were famously reticent. She had them eating out of her hand. Unlike me, who was even shyer with chaps now, or wary would be a better word. Some of the guys were the Sydney surfers who rented a house just down from us and I regularly baked them cookies on a Saturday evening and dropped them around to them. They were famous for their marijuana munchies. And their sweet tooth.

The boys gave us a lift home and everyone was fast asleep. Lesley shared the spare room double bed with her little boy and I had my old bed in my lilac and white bedroom. The next days over breakfast Lesley chatted to dad and afterwards Denise Lethbridge came up and took both boys out on the trail bike and we all had a very relaxed time. It was the first time I really noticed dad so accepting of my friends. Mum enjoyed cooking her fabulous roast meals and my aunts and uncles came over with the cousins. First time in a long time there was no shadow, no feeling of dread or fear there with dad. Lesley actually said your dad is lovely, he just seems starved of communication that is all. I thought about that and realised I had always chatted away to him, until the teen years, when the trouble with my sister started. So I tried to include him in things more and he seemed to be much more relaxed too.

Once we got back to Sydney Lesley’s boyfriend who had dumped her at Circular Quay when they arrived on the ship months before suddenly showed up. I babysat so that they could talk and have some privacy which was not possible in her one bedroom flat at Bondi Beach. He was living at Surfers Paradise and wanted her to move up there with her son to be with him. She decided to stay in Sydney to save money to make a new start there. When we had our regular weekly dinner at Daphne and Des’ we explained this to them and they immediately offered her training as a pattern cutter in their Bondi factory. She proved to be brilliant at this and eventually took over all aspects of the work.

The dinners were fun and spun off my use of my old basic Home Science Commonsense Cookbook from year one in high school. One day after a few weeks of living there I had decided to cook a few meals for us adults and I tried the fruity lamb curry recipe in it. Des came over and tried a spoonful and exclaimed it was a traditional Indian dry sweet curry and delicious. Restaurant quality! So I made Cornish Pasties and many other dishes for us to savour. I bought new cookbooks from Myer Bondi Junction and tried recipes, it was fun and as the children always went to play with their parents once they returned from work I was free to indulge my creativity in the kitchen. We also had takeaway on Friday nights and I was included in family outings to restaurants if I happened to stay in Sydney for the odd weekend.

I was so happy there, I adored the boys and Daphne was fabulous, although I was very wary of Des, not frightened but kept him at arm’s length. No hugging etc and I did not like being alone in the house with him, or his good looking brother who stayed for a few months as was recently divorced. Obviously a reaction to my rape and it’s aftermath though I did not consciously think of what had happened in that house in Gosford.

My friend Linda left Gosford Hospital a few months after me as did all the people who had shared our house. Ann had been sent down to Royal North Shore Hospital for investigation into severe headaches. I spoke to her often on the phone. She returned home after a few days of intensive testing. My sister came over to visit a few times and let us down a lot too by not turning up when she said she was going to. It pissed me off that she disappointed the children.

Over winter the boys had a lot of colds and bugs. Dr David Bennett had started working out of Bondi Junction and he made regular house calls as he could see I could not get all three children to him when they were ill as I did not drive. He had a problem with the dogs. He asked that they were well secured before he came out and no wonder he was nervous. They used to throw themselves in a pack at the glass doors between the ballroom and the sitting room. Dr Bennett felt I was very isolated and had too much responsibility and would stay for a cup of tea and my homemade cake and a chat. When I needed my Pill script I would go in to see him in his rooms in Bronte Road, Bondi Junction.

Lots of reps gave samples of clothing to Daphne and Des, we all had some nice things but especially the boys. There was a knitwear company that made miniature versions of their high fashion sweaters for the boys. Three sweaters in the same shades of blue but different styles. Just gorgeous. The only time I had real trouble clothing wise was when  Des suddenly bought tickets to go to Cairns for all of us. I only had a few summery things with me as had taken my summer clothes back to Noraville. The ones I had not thrown out that is. My tastes changed once I lived in Sydney and I did not have my sewing machine with me to make my new summer wardrobe yet.

Once we were in Cairns Daphne loaned me a short sleeved top and I bought some blouses to wear. It was very hot in the hotel rooms of the family suite so we kept the doors open and while the parents partied downstairs I read while watching the children. We went exploring the region for several days, finding it very beautiful but my overwhelming memory was of the humidity.

Back in Dover Heights it eventually became warmer and the boys had swimming lessons in their huge pool. The instructor was great with them and they really enjoyed themselves. We went down to Bondi Beach a lot as summer approached and met Lesley and her son down there. Eventually though she moved up north to join her boyfriend. We did not feel good about it however as his family who were wealthy disapproved of her. It is why he left her in the first place.

I took Justin the four year old up to Noraville several times. He loved it. Daphne was estranged from her father who lived nearby in Wyong but the whole family picked Justin and I up the first time Justin stayed with us. It was his first sleepiver! Mum loved cuddling Jackson and was quite tearful as she would have loved more children. Unfortunately she had a lot of heavy bleeding and was diagnosed with fibroids. After having a D and C it was advised she have a hysterectomy.

My sister insisted that as she had looked after dad and my brother a few years before when mum had her gallbladder out, that it was my turn now. I did not know how to bring it up with Daphne. I was so upset, I adored the boys and every aspect of my job. It had long term implications for retraining in the garment trade or in fashion and retail. But I had an obligation to look after mum. It was expected that the daughters do these things. It was never ever considered that dad would take time off to do this. We were supposed to look after him. One of the issues for mum was the split level nature of the Noraville house. The laundry was downstairs and it would be months before she could lift washing etc.

Eventually after about five days I brought it up and Daphne said she knew something was wrong. She said no problem, come back when you are able to leave your mum. And meantime they would book the world trip they had been talking about for six months time which should be plenty of time for me to have helped mum back to health again. And I was coming along with them!

I packed and tried not to cry as I said my goodbyes a week later. I loved them so much, even Des, whose weird brash sense of humour had grown on me. Even loved the dogs, though individually, not as a pack.

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