Murta (part 2)


Rex, Robert and Clint
Rex, Robert and Clint
“Smile!” Murta called. She took the boy’s picture with a Box Brownie. They fidgeted with the bow ties. The lads were clothed in tuxedos on the occasion of a ball. Their charisma could light up the Harbour Bridge, the moon and stars combined. Her three little sons loved these young men. Murta was comforted that they would mentor her boys…

She had been seven months pregnant with her fourth when her husband called her inside. He wanted to talk. His slacks swished as he walked to and fro, his hair smoothed into place with Bryl Cream. “I have enlisted,” he said gruffly. “They will need medics.” Murta’s heart sank. Rex, Robert and Clint had signed up too. He coaxed her to have the baby induced. He demanded to meet his child. He held the boy to his face, and grunted in approval.

‘Darwin is under attack! Get the hell out of Bowen! Do whatever you can to make it to Sydney,” his cable read. Murta grabbed her keys, her four boys, and drove like hell. She wondered if the sky was going to fall, the world end. The dirt roads were horrific, and the newborn wailed. She cut a path through cane fields and rampant bush. She exchanged her jewellery for fuel. She arrived home to Sydney, and sank to the green axeminster carpet. She prayed it might swallow her. Clint and Robert had been killed, and Rex was badly injured. Murta wept and stroked the picture of the boys on the mantle. Ma Ma arranged to have  a stained glass window erected in their church. It featured Sir Galahad in his armor, his face that of a young man, unbroken, unyielding, perfect.

Just before her 100th Birthday
Just before her 100th Birthday
A letter arrived from Murta’s husband in 1945. It was sticky, and stained from tobacco. He was leaving her for another woman. She wore silk stockings and applied French perfume from a crystal decanter. The boys were not to see their father again. He died in QLD, a decorated politician. Murta never said a  bad word about the man. She has relished her autonomy; enjoyed her own company, though on occasion, lamented the death of romance.

The war had made accommodation scarce. She was vying for a granny flat with another lady. The woman noticed the softly-spoken boys assembled in a line behind the fey. “You take it love, you need it more than I,” she smiled at Murta. Murta found work off Broadway, training as a secretary at an export house. She remained there until the late 1970’s.

 Rex hobbled, his hip shattered in the war. He and his wife had been Murta’s dear friends until their death’s in the early millennium. Rex would help the homeless in a soup kitchen connected to the church. He used to pause at the stained glass window, tracing the outline of Sir Galahad.

Murta loved tequila, tiramisu, honey, chocolate  and steaming-hot coffee. When you sauntered back home at a hundred years of age, it was still a shock. I expected that you might live forever. Thankyou for your adventurous spirit (which saw you misbehave to such an extent that your father sent you on a boat to England). Your adventurous spirit saw you learn to drive, and with a  friend, make your way to Scotland as a teenager! The brave Knight and fair maiden ventured deep into the ocean. The folks that have been invigorated with the spray of their concern rest on the sand. Rex, Robert and Clint hold hands with Murta. They are plunged into the lupine liquid, and the ocean carries them away.

Murta and I, 2005
Murta and I, 2005

Murta (Part 1)


 

Murta at seventeen in the '20's
Murta at seventeen in the ’20’s
I met Murta in 1999, and she became one of my dearest friends, up to her death in 2005 at 100 years of age. Every night she would pray that I might have a child. She would say, “you are always smiling and look happy, darling, but I see the sadness in your eyes when you think nobody’s looking.” I laughed and told her she way too perceptive. This is her story.

MURTA

In 1905 an iridescent fey shed her gossamer wings and slid into a world of hand-wringing and sleep draughts. As she took her first breath, her mother took her last. “I have birthed a numinous creature, and its enough,” her mother sighed. “Its more than enough.”  Murta’s tiny hand firmly gripped her mother’s wedding band.

As her life progressed, pastoral scenes and snatches of bliss made life seem a useful pastime. Tendrils of honey tumbled down her slight shoulders. Her eyes were Wedgewood blue, as though crazy-lace agates had been prepared for instalment. Pulverized Herkimer diamonds were scattered around her iris. Murta tremulously held her step-sister in her plush pink hands. Seven months of incubation hadn’t been enough and the babe left this world, despite Murta’s pleadings. She comforted Ma Ma (her stepmother), and wrapped her sister in a peach bunny rug,placing her in the icebox until the official farewell.

In time, Ma Ma delivered a little boy. Murta anxiously watched over Clint throughout the eventide, the silence broken by the redwood repeater in the hall. She stroked his cheek with her little finger,the summer evening engorged with floral aromas piped into the rhythmic breeze. Ma Ma admired the children from the veranda as she gripped the iron lacework. Murta was teaching Clint to ride his pony. She loved her little brother, a blessed gift from another woman.

Murta’s head was turned as a young socialite. Douglas Fairbanks had nothing on this young doctor. Mesmerized, Murta hurried when he called, his voice carrying her to Bowen in far Nth Queensland. She was impetuous, imbibing at parties thrown in the roaring twenties; climbing iron fences, dashing to the water’s edge. Wild, wilful, a dedicated suffragette. She caught a glimpse of herself as she polished  a Venetian mirror. She smiled, recalling her box of secrets, fringed with satin ribbons.

She smuggled an orphaned joey onto a train in Brisbane and coaxed him to eat a little cereal. Murta proudly offered him to Clint. She watched from the veranda, rubbing her pendulous belly, her first child growing beneath her skin. She watched Clint, his hair falling over his absythne eyes. He and his best friend, Rex, played with the ‘roo and it bounded after them as a dog might. Robert, a sixteen year old chum, straggled after them. He admired Clint’s torrid, isatiable love affair with life.

(To be Continued)…

 

The Rose Fairy


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I wrote this when I was a little girl, and found it in a folder. I thought I would share it with you! I do love fairies!

The Rose Fairy
The soft morn’ dew settled on the grass,
Amid delighted laughs.
The sun rose in the sky above,
As the fairies had their bath.

Her face was  little as a sliver of zest,
Her rose-red hair did flow.
Her lips scarlet as a robin’s chest.
The petals in her little hand would fell wherever she’d go.

I stumbled across her clear one day,
Whilst strolling through your garden.
She squeaked with fright when she saw me,
I said, “I beg your pardon.”

She giggled, “My name’s Mary-Bell, but you can call me Mary.
This is my home, roses I own, for I am their own rose fairy.”

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Alone Behind a Panel of Glass


So it began… I didn’t know what to feel. There isn’t a guide-book for this stuff. I am inherently joyous, with a permanent grin on my face, and a naughty sense of humour. That is who I am. It is decidedly at odds with some of my life’s experiences. I haven’t been on social media this week, only to wish people a Happy Birthday. I feel alone, terribly alone. I have averted my eyes from the happy snaps at gatherings I didn’t attend. I feel like I am behind a pane of glass, able to see life occurring, but unable to participate.

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It wasn’t a ten second fall from a building… It was also the events leading up to it, and the way my life changed afterward.  The sense of loneliness never leaves me. I spent my last week before the fall in a room lit by a bare light globe. There was barely enough light to read by. It was freezing cold and I shivered underneath my threadbare blanket. I was so lonely. I worried about what would become of me. I was fifteen years old.

Last night, I didn’t sleep. I had memories of the 36 hours I was held in a flat, the grills on the windows, the deadlock on the door. 36 hours is an interminably long while to wait to see how your story will play out. I was alone with a monster. Music, smells, sounds, conversations, all replaying over and over again in my mind. The world outside carrying on just as it did in the street outside that flat.

Today, the sun shot through the window of my living room. It speared the sun-catcher, and it shot rainbows throughout my home. My daughter made snow flakes from paper, and delighted in telling me that each was different and special, much like people.

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We went for a walk to the park, and I sat in the sun. I didn’t want to talk to anyone, so busied myself on the phone. A few dear friends messaged and asked how I was doing. I appreciated their kindness. Time doesn’t make anniversaries such as this any better. Being a mother myself has actually made it worse. I can’t imagine my child enduring this, any of it. I met these ladies, and we went for a late lunch. It was wonderful to be brought back to the present, to talk about our lives and to show each other funny images of cute bunnies and guinea pigs. To forget for a while.

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I am so used to the loneliness stemming from that time in my life, and so afraid of rejection, that I don’t tend to initiate a get-together. I don’t think I could bear being hurt again. These ladies cut through the glass pane. I don’t know what I want at times. I want company, though desire to be alone. It is confusing and tiring. I keep people at bay, fearing abandonment. I love with all my heart, but keep my own counsel. I have developed a whimsical, light-hearted character, but it is merely a part I play. There is  a child locked inside my soul, who is facing it all alone. When I look back on that time, it is the loneliness that has had the most impact. Being a child dealing with adults who are playing games you haven’t been taught. Trying to save your life all by yourself. Trying to keep other people from being hurt. Trying to stay sane in the process.

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This past weekend, I was attempting to conceal what these days meant. “What is the date Mummy?” my daughter asked as she filled out her workbook. “The 24th of July,” I whispered. I watched her squeal with joy as she rode her bike, ringing her bell along the bike track. Smiling and tearing up, and greeting passers-by and dissociating. It is hard letting it all unravel as it demands to. There’s not a thing I can do to make the pain stop. I have to sit with it, walk it out, play with my daughter and cry in the shower. I am so grateful to the ladies who met with me, and provided balm to my wounds. We didn’t talk about the anniversary and didn’t need to. They knew and I knew they knew. That was enough. I wasn’t alone. That was more than enough. On the 26th July, I will open my eyes and smile, just as I did on that date many years ago. I was battered and  battle-scarred, but I was here.

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July: Frost, Snow and Anniversaries in Australia


I knew it was coming, I knew. I knew in June, that the end of July was inevitable. Yet, it seemed so far away. To my horror, as I was pretending to be a domestic goddess, organizing my child’s schedule, I uncovered that the anniversary was taking place this week. The date that everything changed. The date that would determine whether I lived or died…Whether I would walk again; drink water again, eat food again, fall pregnant or have a difficult time. Whether I would be in agony every moment (wakeful or sleeping), for the rest of my life. Whether I could drive long distances, sit for over an hour, use catheters or not, have scores of operations, with more to come. Whether I would need to have two surgeries at seventeen to save my life, my heart held in someones hand, my chest opened up. Then to be flipped over, after having floating ribs sewn off, to replace my back bone. To save my life. This was the date that would determine all that and much more. Whether I would have the mettle to survive at all. To sustain in the face of nightmares and torment.

lived-to-tell

Can you believe that I have met my twin?! I stumbled upon this person’s blog a week ago. The anniversary of his being thrown from a height as a young person is in July. He is still affected by phone calls and door bells ringing. He said “I thought I was the only one!” He completed the quiz I put on my site to find out what your hippie name is. He got Flower, the same as me! The thrill of recognition-the regret and sorrow too- that somebody else understands what you felt that night. Somebody knows what it is like to hit the ground… I love this person, though I haven’t met them. What a privilege in the midst of a strange, disorderly life. Here’s to all survivors. It is a lonely path at times. I am glad not many in our circle can identify with this particular angst. I hold a pool of tears if you can.

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On the anniversary, I will hold my daughter, and partake in what was denied me, so many years ago. I will have a bath with aromatic oils, a broad-rimmed Italian glass in hand. In it shall be red wine, the hue of ground garnets. I will eat a hearty meal, slip into the covers of my bed in my warm room, and be thankful I am here. That bitter winter’s night, I was covered in dirt and blood, cast aside in a dark night of the soul and body. I was hungry, and in agony. I was thirsty and alone. I am still in agony, but the darkness has been bludgeoned by light. The loneliness by friendship. The thirst and hunger have been quenched and I am warm. The blood and dirt have been cleaned away, and what remains is a woman who is frightened no more. The worst has happened. It is done. I survived. More than that, I am flourishing.

The Sunshine Award


the-sunshine-award-sunshine

Art by Rob Goldstein has nominated me for The Sunshine Award. Thankyou, my friend! I am humbled and honoured.

The Rules:

*Thank the person who nominated you.

*Answer the questions from the person who has nominated you.

*Nominate some other bloggers for this award.

*Write the same amount of questions for the bloggers you have nominated.

My Questions:

1. What is your definition of courage?

We are all frightened, especially in the face of danger or the unknown. Courage is what makes you keep going, despite trauma and fear. It is the point of peace that declares, ‘this is not how my story will end.’ Courage is facing a new day or going to a social event full of unknown faces. We have it inherit in us.

2. What part does compassion play in your life?

Compassion plays a huge part. I have to be compassionate with myself, as well as those around me. When I physically can’t do anymore that day, I will rest. It is stepping outside your own experience, and asking, if I was in that situation, how would I like to be treated?

3.  If you had a mental illness, how would you want people to treat you?

I suffer PTSD, anxiety and at times, depression. I love people to invite me for coffee, a movie or just to chat. I just want them to be with me. The feeling of aloneness is one of the worst things in the world when symptoms flare up.

4. What do you like most about aging? (or getting older?)

You can see the big picture of your life and see how far you have come.

5. What is your worst fear?

Heights! Apart from that, being alone. The feeling of being rejected or abandoned.

I nominate:

Witless Dating After Fifty

Homemade Naturally

Lorie B

1001 Scribbles

Belinda Crane

Afternoon of Sundries

My Questions Are:

1. What gives you joy in your life?

2. Which season do you prefer and why?

3. If you could be an animal, what would it be?

4. What movies do you love?

5. If you could go anywhere in the world, where would it be?

Bill Crews


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My spiritual home is Ashfield Uniting Church, always has and will be. There are times when I don’t know what I believe anymore, and yet I gravitate back to Ashfield. People speak their mind here. It is gritty and real and full of love. The sermon was about celebration, and understanding that there is something to be thankful for every day. It may a rainbow appearing overhead or the breath in your lungs. At morning tea, Bill put on an Australian Story from 16 years ago. He stood to the side of the hall as the matriarchs of the church appeared on-screen. He watched as Speakers Corner in The Domain (a lively corner of Sydney in the 60’s),sprang to life. Pictures of him as a young engineer were presented. Here he was, in his 20’s, minding his own business, when he had an epiphany. He left it all behind to live and work in The Cross. I had tears. I remembered watching the show all those years ago, and deciding that I needed to go to this church, to meet him.

He also showed us a 7.30 Report segment on the literacy program. I can’t adequately describe how it felt to watch children who had been discounted and neglected by our educational system come back to life. They were beaming, their shoulders back and heads held high at their graduation ceremonies. This program has changed their lives and futures. It is being extended to Liverpool in the near future. Bill was there when I went into premature labour with my daughter at twenty weeks. He sat by my bedside and celebrated when the rupture in my waters sealed and the contractions stopped. He was among the first in the maternity ward when she arrived safely at 36 weeks. He held her and prayed over her.

Here, they do real. They argue and get cranky, and cry and laugh. Your life can be in ruins and you can be dishevelled and you will still be loved. That makes it a rare and special place. To donate or find out more, head to Bill Crews’ website.

Wedding Expos and Cults


I am surrounded by Nicci's cakes!

A friend had a stand at a wedding expo and asked if I could give her a hand. Now I know nothing about wedding expos, other than that they have never been my cup of tea. I can’t even stand trying on clothes or shoes before buying them!  My idea of a heavenly wedding would be to grab a colourful dress and shoes, and quickly organize  flowers and a bespoke cake and voila! My friend is a baker and makes the most beautiful cakes imaginable. Rather than using fondant, she uses organic and locally sourced produce, such as honey, berries and flowers. She makes her cakes affordable, and also does baked donuts, created with coconut oil.

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I offered cake tastings to prospective brides and their families. I met scores of radiant couples, their parents and friends proudly by their sides. I thought it may be confronting, to see a way of being that I hadn’t experienced. Instead, it filled my heart. I am glad that some young women and men have this sense of belonging and security, I really am. There was only one occasion where I felt like pleading with the bloke to do a runner. “I plan on being the biggest bitch,” a bride smirked, promising to be a horror in the lead up to her wedding. Her mother laughed delightedly at the prospect.

I bumped into  an old acquaintance and she asked if I had seen a mutual friend. “No, I haven’t,” I replied. “She became a real hermit,” the woman replied. “I think the disconnect was caused by the  cult she belongs to… Remember all the crap  they taught? She used to go to all their classes,” I said. I went into quite the diatribe about this silly cult with its silly teachings, and how I worried about this friend. The woman paused and then said quite sternly, “I still attend all their classes.” Oops! At least she wont be pushing their teachings onto me!

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I have attended a wedding expo now. It wasn’t as grim as I feared. Far from it. I saw young women about to be married for the first time, and older ladies who had found their true love at last. It was a local expo, filled with local characters. Quite the organic day, really. It wasn’t about grandiose displays; rather the couples were seeking  symbols to represent who they are as individuals and who they shall be when married. I wish them all well, particularly the fellow marrying the bridezilla!

School Holidays


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Being a home schooler, we still follow the school terms. My daughter gets to catch up with school friends  and relax a bit. Ironically, she begs to stay home some days, as our school term is basically filled with frequent sojourns to the city. It was lovely, stopping and having time to go to the park. To watch kids movies with friends and have a late breakfast.

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The guinea pigs have brought some wonderful people into our lives. We put out an offer for families to adopt some of them for free. It was fabulous to see the joy the kids experienced when they held their new guinea pig for the first time. I have learnt quite a bit about guinea pigs! I was pressing the wrong part of their tummy to determine if they were boys or girls. If you are pressing the correct part, something will pop out if it’s a boy! I also didn’t know that they can fall pregnant immediately after having babies! I wasn’t aware either that they are determined to be together, and to my horror, the girls broke into the boy’s run. As with everything, you learn through experience! Many guinea pigs have gone to beautiful homes, and I am treated to pictures of them being adored, which fills my heart. They have connected us to many lovely people in the community, and I will love them always for that.

Munchkin and I went on the Sydney Explorer bus with friends and ended up in Double Bay. Our friends had been wanting to do the Eastern Suburbs trip for years and we decided it was time. We had pub food and champers for lunch, then got some bargains from dress stores. Honestly, the clothing was almost as cheap as if we had gone to an op shop. We giggled as we chatted about our prior plans for the day. The park and then Bondi Beach for hot chips. The girls were so enamoured by the grand changing rooms that they didn’t mind at all. We investigated a mere block of Double Bay this day!

My daughter skated at St Marys Cathedral. The winter weather has been glorious in Sydney!
My daughter skated at St Marys Cathedral. The winter weather has been glorious in Sydney!

It was NAIDOC week in Sydney, and I took my daughter to a flag-raising ceremony. We all walked through the smoke created by Eucalyptus leaves being burnt by a man honoured to fulfil this task. We were mesmerized by the children dancing, and then we all walked together down to a farm gifted to the community. A free lunch was offered, and there was plenty to keep the children entertained. It was  a beautiful day in a beautiful town.

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We are starting the new term refreshed. I am looking forward to all that awaits us! I am learning alongside my child and have gleaned much information about our world and how it works. When she asks a question I often hurriedly seek information from Dr Google, which makes me appear smarter than I am. I am certainly going to slow down this term, and not run myself into the ground. Life is too precious for that!