Everything Was In Place

We spent Christmas up at the farm along with C’s grandmother from the UK. We had some lovely times in the pool and relaxing. D and Sue were both upset that they were not offered an opportunity to go to church on Christmas Day. Mum and dad had not been to Mass in years, it did not occur to them but they would have taken them if they had asked.

There was an undertone of sadness due to what I had experienced in November, naturally. My uncles and aunts gave me the biggest hugs when they came over. My uncle who rarely cried did so and asked me if I was okay.

My brother was working in the mines and having a very good social life. We did not see much of him though he loved having us in the house. Dad worked through most of the holiday period so we did not see a lot of him.

After a week we went back home to Sydney and life went back to normal. Off the horrid medications our little boy was much brighter. He was having a horrendous amount of jerks but happy with it. He love Sesame Street and Playschool and his cartoon videos.

Grandma also knitted him every toy under the sun. He especially loved his monkey, Dum Dum and his Humpty Dumpty. Her scarecrow was a work of art, it had tiny tiny lady birds on it as well as birds. Everyone was stunned at mum’s skills.

Sue went back to the UK but the night before D had the most vicious talk with her. He harangued her and said the most awful things. She was crying and crying and in the end I came in and turned my back on him, put my arms around her and said that is enough. Stop it. This is your mother, crying inconsolably, what is wrong with you? He just shrugged.

I walked her into her bedroom and helped her onto the bed and got her a cup of tea and some biscuits. I had never seen such cruelty before. He said she thought God took his father so that he would not worry the way she had about him and the strange travels he had undertaken before I met him. She believed it totally and would not retract it so he hounded her to do so.

The next day she returned to the UK, the night before making peace with her son, as she always did. She would never go to bed angry, it was a fundamental part of her nature, true forgiveness.

I was having a lot of pain in my right wrist so was not knitting as much as usual. I was sent to a Hand Surgeon who arranged surgery ASAP for Carpel Tunnel Syndrome. I went into the Private Jewish Hospital in Bondi Junction where the surgery was not as straight forward as they thought it would be. They were decompressing the arteries on both sides of my hand and was told it would be almost instant relief. Whereas I woke up in agony. My arm was raised and bandaged and it was swollen to twice its size.

The surgeon came around and in front of me said “fuck I should have checked her neck” to the nursing sister. That did not fill me with confidence. I was also really missing my baby, then when he came in his right hand too was bandaged up. He had it clasped against his chest and he would not let it go, even for a big hug with mummy.

His father told me they were playing in the park when he fell on some glass. He said he put him in the stroller and ran him down to the Children’s hospital with him bleeding all the way. Our doctor was a lot closer but he panicked.

Once at the hospital they stitched the deep circular cut. His father thought it amusing that C was so distressed he kicked his firmly strapped on sandals completely off. And then would not let anyone near him.

So I went home to a toddler who was suspicious of us both if we came near his hand. Eventually he did let me change his dressing and bandage it. Perhaps seeing mine bandaged too helped.

During this time the case for the insurance payout was going through for when D was hit by the car in 1983. It was a considerable amount of money and he asked me to move back to the UK and be near his family for support for C. He was extremely annoyed with my family for not helping us more, though dad was not yet retired and my mum was needed on the farm. He could never understand that people could not just forget about their jobs and take off.

He promised me that we would be warm and looked after. And I would have my own bank account and money. I was very torn as I had been going to the High Church since the Termination. His mum had liked it there too and we went together while she was out here. They were currently asking for a young family to be Verger’s and I was very keen for us to apply. He said that is something we could do in the UK as there were a lot more churches so more need for Vergers.

So once I agreed we had to tell my parents, which was very very hard. And the rest of my family. We packed our things and shipped them, the place we were in was rented furnished so we only had personal items and toys etc to send ahead. Soon it was time to say goodbye to my parents and aunts and uncles and we caught the train back down to Sydney. There we said goodbye to my sister and K and my friends including my lovely neighbour, a mum across the road from us. We had met earlier the previous year. She had helped me so much and I also looked after her little girl, born on the same day as C. My husband did not like our friendship, she was a nursing sister and was wanting to get me work with her in a care home. She was not happy about my being so dependent on D. Sue had liked her a lot when she met her on our usual morning tea get togethers.

My brother had not been at the farm when we were up there and the night before we left he drove down to say goodbye. I was quietly distraught, seeing my young brother for possibly the last time. He loved our flat and said it suited us and if only he and my parents had been able to come down more things might have been different.

Eventually he had to go back for work in the morning and we settled in for our last night in Australia. We had the name of a good specialist in London from Dr Johnston and Professor Wise. Sue was meeting us at Heathrow. Everything was in place for us to start our new lives.

 

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.

 

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.

 

 

 

Waiting Game

Mum had a huge operation and lost a lot of blood. My friend Ann later told me she was told to prepare theatre with the necessary instruments etc for a really high risk patient. She was surprised at the resuscitation equipment that was needed and knew this was going to be a risky operation for someone. Then mum was wheeled in and she was stunned. It never showed though, my mum never forgot how my old friend, one of my best friends ever, had looked after her. She said Ann was so tender, so kind, so professional. She said Ann promised her she would be okay, that she would look after her. And she did though I did not see Ann again for some years.

My mum’s previous Pulmonary Embolism nearly killed her and they always expected it to happen again. Mum never knew, apparently when she had her gallbladder out the same preparations were made. Denise Lethbridge also told me about it years later. Mum really suffered a lot with her surgeries and arthritis and her “nerves” and was never 100% in good health.

Dad drove my brother and myself to visit mum in the evenings at Gosford Hospital. As soon as I walked into her shared ward the first time I saw James who I knew from Terrigal. He waved and after mum got a bit tired I went over and said hi and recognised the patient he was visiting as one of my girlfriends I used to know from around Terrigal. She gave me a huge hug and was so pleased she had seen me as I had basically disappeared from the pub circuit. James and Jennifer were together which was wonderful, though her having miscarriages was not. They were so perfect together, and gave me their phone number.

Dad rarely said anything at the hospital, in fact mum and dad rarely spoke in front of their children so it was always a strain to visit mum as I did most of the talking. I found myself going back into nurse mode very quickly and helped mum get comfortable and introduced myself to the other female surgical patients. Some of the staff were girls I had worked with and some I had gone to high school with. It was all very familiar.

Once mum was home it was hard to get her to relax and recover. Nothing I did was done the right way. She tried to do the washing which was downstairs. I decided the time I was there would be an unpaid job and tried to get things into a routine to suit mum but she slipped into a really deep depression. I managed to get my brother off to school in the mornings and be ready for him after school. Mum filled her day with watching Days Of Our Lives and The Young And The Restless. I used the time to read or sew. I also drank a lot of coffee to fill me up as I needed to lose the ten pounds I had put on because I was not using up the kind of energy I had been using up with nannying and nursing. The weight came off with long walks to the beaches and down to Canton Beach and to the shops and library at Toukley .

Mum was recovered physically but emotionally was another thing. It took all my tact and love to cope with everything. I was beginning to feel despondent myself. Seeing my nursing friends, an old boyfriend having moved on and all living their lives made my own seem empty by comparison. I knew I could have a great trip with Daphne and family early next year but I wanted a proper long term career.

I applied to The Navy and also answered a full page advertisement in The New Idea for Ansett Air Hostesses. One day just after I had applied I was walking back from Jenny Dixon Beach and as soon as mum saw me she came outside and told me three Naval Officers in a Jeep had been to see me! They knew that an older school friend of mine, Narelle Halverson had been in the Navy and that she had told me a lot about it. Mum was so excited, she said they looked fabulous in their uniforms and came in for a cup of tea and the tea bread I made especially for dad. At the same time I heard back from Ansett to go for an interview in Sydney next month.

I chose to go to the Ansett interview before I went on with the Navy. Mum was disappointed, though she thought I would not get in with Ansett. The interview was in a hotel near Hyde Park and I walked through the park afterwards on the way to shop in Myers and Centrepoint. It had seemed to go well, they seemed more interested in how happy and jolly I was than anything else. And how I would respond to people who were not pleasant to me. They actually scorned nursing, as if it did not matter the demeanour one used on ill people.

Once inside Centrepoint I went to see Daphne and Des in their shop to let them know I might not be able to come back. I remember saying to Daphne that I wanted to do something important, to have a career. She said that I was important to her and to Des and the children. I was so immature to say that to her and apologised instantly. She understood and we had a lovely long chat.

I heard back from Ansett that they needed me to come in for a second interview. This time I wore more makeup and a figure revealing dress. It was summer so they could see I was the right weight and could hold a conversation. They said they had been a little worried about my self confidence last time but had no issues now and wanted to offer me a place in the next intake.

Cannot even begin to say how excited I was, and even more excited than me was dad. He had been asking me weekly how my diet was going! The next intake was not for four months so I had to let Daphne know I could not come back to them or go on their trip. She said to come for the weekend and I had a lovely time with the children, and babysat so the adults could go gambling in Double Bay again. While I was there Daphne told me my sister had come to see them when I first left them to look after mum. She said some really nasty things about me and said it would be better if she took the job and went overseas with them. I guess I should have not been hurt but I was. She always wanted what I had but we had different personalities. She would not have patience with the children or the adults for that matter. Daphne said she let her have it and told her that I was a friend not just an employee.

So over the next four months I helped mum and babysit my young cousins, including the little toddler, born when I first went nursing. Their mother had just gone back to work hairdressing and mum loved this little girl so much, it also helped her depression to have her there each day. I knitted jumpers for winter for my brother and an all over cabled 8ply camel wool coat to wear in Melbourne as I imagined autumn would be cold. I could have used the camel coat Daphne and Des had given me but I had given it and the bag to my sister when she had gone on and on about how I did not know how lucky I was to have such things.

I did however know that I deserved this opportunity and I was not going to squander it.