A number of events have and are occuring that have had me pondering and reflecting on many events and people in my life and how I have become the person I am today. I will be 47 this year and I suddenly realise that I am rapidly approaching that phase called 'middle age'...oh my God! It's terrifying! It's also a relief. I am finding that on a day to day basis I am beginning to have questions about so many things...I almost sound like my 5 year old wanting to know everything and I do mean EVERYTHING right now!
But I digress...as I often do...this blog is about the past...and maybe that will bring us up to speed? Much of what I am about to write is not pleasant, it's not easy to write about, remember and I can't even put some of it down into words, so I won't. This is not about asking for pity or anything actually, it's just a way for me to remember. Most of my memories are happy, joyful and full of love and laughter. Those memories will come too. But for now I need to recall how a very familiar foe entered my life and how I have been able to live on, survive and be happy again.
I need to go way back...
I consider myself a very fortunate person...
I was raised by a mother and father who loved each other and all 3 of their children unconditionally. I always felt as though my family was proud of me, no matter what. But sometimes I wished I could be better...I don't know why.
My mum was a stay home mum, as most in the 60's were. My Dad was an electrical contractor and had his own business for over 25 years on the Gold Coast. We had everything we wanted or needed which by today's standards meant...very little. We were blissfully happy!!
We were a happy family that did everything together...footy, dancing camping, surfing and parties!
At 18 my world fell apart when my darling mum died from cancer.
She had been unwell for about 3-4 months, in and out of hospital with bouts of severe abdominal pain that nobody really had an answer for but plenty of good guesses. On one of her stays out of hospital she came to me and said she was scared because she had found a lump in her breast.
She wanted me to feel it. It was hard as a rock, small as a pea and sat right behind her nipple...I can still feel it right now. I told her not to worry, it would be okay but to go to the doctor and get it checked. I was scared too.
It was cancer, it was actually a secondary cancer that had spread from her bowel to the breast and her lymph nodes. But, nobody knew it yet. She had a full mastectomy, Christ, did they make a mess of her!
Mum was devastated, she had the most gorgeous boobs and was so proud of them! I thought she was the most beautiful, woman in the world and so did my Dad.
Then the radiotherapy started...I can't remember how long it went for I just remember I drove her to Royal Brisbane Hospital from the Gold Coast on my learner's licence many, many times. I'd sit in the waiting room and see people dealing with the dreadful scars that this hideous disease wreaks on people. I remember one day seeing for the first time a young woman who had lost at least half her face to surgery. At the time I thought to myself, I'd rather die. I'm sure she did too. I don't know what happened to her...but I also remember thinking how strong she must be to deal with this everyday.
Mum's scars were alwful too but she never complained.
There's so much I don't remember from this time probably because I didn't want to know what was happening and partly because I could hide away from it all because I was still studying at Teacher's College Mon-Fri and only come home on weekends.
My friends kept me busy and my job was to do well at college and get that teaching diploma.
Within a 6 month period I saw my very athletic, outgoing, busy, chatty, never sit down and rest mother become frail, tired and quiet.
I saw my life changing without even realising it.
I remember coming home from college one Friday night and my Dad was bringing my mum home from hospital stay number...???? too many to remember. He walked through the door virtually carrying her frail body to their room. He put her in bed and came upstairs to tell us all that she had come home to die...there was nothing else the doctors could do for her.
I just sat there...shock set in and I remember Dad mad me a cup of tea that was so sweet it nearly made me sick...he siad the sugar would help?
My life completely turned upside down in that moment and I don't think I ever recovered from that feeling.
I went through all the normal stages...denial, anger etc. but mostly I just felt numb and everything seemed so quiet and still, the whole world seemed to come to a standstill but it didn't. I'd go to do grocery shopping and people were just normal, smiling, laughing, arguing. It didn't feel, right.
Didn't they all know what was happening? My mother, Robyn, was dying!! She would be gone soon and they wouldn't be able to see her again! No one would, not even me! So, stop! Do something! Anything! But I didn't say any of those things, I just did my shopping like everyone else. No one would have even known my pain, my despair that my world was about to end. It was all so surreal.
The end for my mother was awful, like it is for so many cancer patients, pain, injections to relieve the pain, illness, deliriousness. Horror like I've never imagined...well, not at that time anyway.
When she finally passed around midnight on July 29th, 1984 the night was quiet and still. My mother died in my Dad's arms and he told me later she spoke of me in her final words, wondering if I'd be okay. No, I wouldn't be, she was gone forever and I'd never hear her laugh again. Never see her smile again. Never feel her arms around me again. Never hear her say words of comfort and love. She was gone. She was 39 and I was 18. Too young.
But we went on, I took my sister shopping for an appropriate dress for a 14 year old to wear to her mother's funeral. That in itself felt so wrong. I still see the look on the face of the sales assistant when she told Shelley how nice the dress looked and she said thanks and told her what event it was for. Those looks of pity became very familiar. Now I just abhor them. I've seen them too often. I don't mean that I'm angry at those who show them they don't know how it makes me feel.
Life changed forever after that. Dad was a mess. That's saying it nicely. My brother Brett was gone, living on the Sunshine Coast. Shelley needed me. My Grandmother was there but not for long. She moved to a unit.
Then another nightmare began, but that's a different story, and not one I am prepared to tell yet.
Robyn Faye Green