wings and things

My son, the honest actor

Earlier today I put Ming on a train to Perth because he has applied for numerous roles in various films, including a music video. It’s mostly “extra” work so not paid but I admire his tenacity in trying to get ‘out there’ as an actor. One of the roles requires him to be a scruffy guy at a strip club; another requires him to be a sophisticated guy at a strip club; and the music video requires him to be a NeoNazi in a story about how a young son murders his Nazi father.

Yes, well, mmmm. Anyway, Ming will be staying with various relatives and friends for the next four days and nights. Tonight he will be staying with my eldest niece and her husband (you know, the beautiful people).

The following night, he will be staying with one of his best friends, and for the last two nights he will be staying with relatives from Anthony’s side of the family.


Ming hasn’t gone off for many adventures like this and I just realized that I have never been alone on this farm for as long as four days (one or other of the ‘boys’ would be here), so it feels very strange.

The brat’s interests are music and drama (both of which he is good at, but, even though he has some formal qualifications, these are very difficult industries to get into).

I am hoping so much that he might simply be noticed.


Before I dropped Ming off at the train station, we went to our lawyer’s office to give him a gift of red wine and he invited us into his space to have a chat. It wasn’t like our previous chats because, now that the court case is miraculously over, we could just be ourselves without the professional distance. I wanted to hug the lawyer (as I had done just after the verdict last week), but I restrained myself.

Ming was told previously that one of the repercussions of the accident was that he might have to do community service by accompanying the police to schools in order to talk about his/our extended family’s experience. We were told last week that this was no longer a necessity but Ming still wants to do this and I support his decision.

In a way, this will be another unpaid acting role but, this time, it will be the real thing. Ming told me this afternoon that he continually replays that night in his head, with ‘what if?’ questions a never-ending dream sequence, and with the ‘why?’ question still hanging its head in shame.

The fact that all of the children who were injured are okay now, in a forever way, spurs Ming on to wanting to warn the rest of us to be more protective, corrective and vigilant – AND to dispel notions of easygoingness when it comes to children, because you just


The Verdict

Good news! In fact it is the best possible outcome and even the lawyer is gobsmacked. Today, in court, the police reduced Ming’s charge of “five counts of dangerous driving occasioning bodily harm” to “one count of dangerous driving” and they deleted “bodily harm” from the charge (this was the most surprising thing since the accident did cause bodily harm).

The penalty is a $500 fine plus courts costs, and Ming loses his driver’s licence for three months. Considering he was facing the possibility of a $15,000 fine, a two year suspension of his licence, and maybe jail time, this is absolutely amazing!

Thank you so much for all of the comments on yesterday’s rather melodramatic post (which I have now edited into something less melodramatic ha!) I am also deeply grateful for the support and prayers of our family and friends, the character references for Ming, and for your patience with my moodiness.

And to God: thank you for restoring my faith, and my breath, and for the fact that we didn’t need the $4000-per-day barrister after all!

Tonight we are celebrating my eldest niece’s birthday and she was sure it would be a double celebration with good news for Ming. I wasn’t so sure and my optimism was limpy.

Then, this morning, at the lawyer’s office, when he told us that there was still no answer from the police and said it may well be another adjournment, my optimism tripped over and fell. “It’s like the Samuel Beckett play, Waiting for Godot“, the lawyer said, and Ming guffawed while I tried to smile. An hour or so later, Ming and I were sitting in the court’s waiting room rather listlessly when the lawyer came out of the courtroom itself and beckoned us in, whispering, “Godot has arrived”, then he went to talk to someone else. I looked at Ming with wide eyes:

Me: What does that mean?
Ming: Duh, Mum, the charges have been reduced!
Me: But why can’t he just say that?
Ming: Because he likes to speak in metaphors.
Me: But are you sure?
Ming: Yes!
Me: Well I need to hear the actual words.

And half an hour later, I did. Yeeha!

It’s over.


Court case

Tomorrow, Ming and I go back to court for the third time since the car accident last October. (For those who don’t know, Ming lost control on gravel whilst taking four cousins and a friend on a bit of a joyride on the back of his new ute/truck, and all five children were seriously injured.)

Since then, all involved have been through different versions of hell, but, with the five children healed now, life is beginning to resemble the joy of before-the-accident instead of the trauma of after-the-accident.

Ming (now 20 – he was 19 at the time of the accident) has, over the ensuing months, taken full responsibility for this accident and now awaits tomorrow’s decision from the police as to whether the charge of five counts of dangerous driving might be reduced to one count. Obviously my whole family, including the injured children, are hoping for that latter but Ming and I are now prepared for whatever happens.

Actually no! Ming is prepared, but I am terrified. If the charges against him are reduced he will plead guilty – easy – but, if the charges are not reduced, his lawyer wants him to plead not-guilty in order to negotiate further.

Several times, over the months when the children were in neck and spinal braces, and leg, arm and wrist casts I despaired and sometimes became uncharacteristically angry and, in retrospect, my family coped very well with my unfocused aggro.

I only expressed anger towards Ming once because I knew how traumatized he already was. It was a few weeks after the accident and he and I were in the car and I said, “But why, Ming – why did you take the kids for that joyride – WHY?”

At that hint of blame in my voice, Ming began to scream, then sob. Since that day, he has been calm and taken the whole legal process in his stride, whereas I have been on tenterhooks. Obviously his remorse goes without saying.

I don’t think I can go on with this tonight but glad I have written some of it down.

Wish us luck tomorrow in court!



Ming and I were in court again today but, due to a glitch in communication between the police and our lawyer, his case has once again been adjourned – for another three weeks.

I thought today was the day Ming would finally plead guilty so I was a bit agitated as we waited in the waiting room with a fascinating assortment of other criminals. Ming was dressed in a white, collared shirt and black pants (not jeans) but, on the way into town this morning, the button on his pants popped off so, not being the type to have a sewing kit in the car, I just told him to make sure the zip was up when he faced the magistrate but not to fiddle with it too much because that might look a bit odd. This was made a bit difficult by the fact that his shirt had to be tucked in at our lawyer’s advice.

It was weird to be sitting and waiting, more worried about Ming’s pants than the outcome, and my recent hand condition (the pompholyx I wrote about awhile back, which has come back again), started to erupt in front of my eyes. It was like a scene from a science-fiction movie!

All of the little blisters on my hands started to join each other until, one after another, big blisters formed – between my fingers, on the palms of my hands and on my wrists. Okay – gross-out alert here – then, as I rubbed my itchy hands together nervously, all of the blisters started to burst and leak, then re-form, again and again. Ming was so disgusted and concerned by my leaking hands that he, too, lost focus on the court case. This was our conversation before the hearing:

Ming: Will you stop rubbing your hands, Mum!
Me: Look at this blister! OMG it just appeared, Ming!
Ming: Don’t touch it, Mum. Oh please – I am going to vomit!
Me: Your zip is down again.
Ming: What? Oh, okay, don’t worry, I will pull it up again when I stand up.
Me: There’s the lawyer Ming!
Ming: Don’t shake his hand, Mum, please!
Me: Don’t show him your zip, Ming, please!

Lawyer: Hello, you two.
Ming: Hello (stands up awkwardly to shake lawyer’s hand whilst surreptitiously pulling up his zip).
Me: Hello (sitting down with my hands in my pockets but with a big grin on my face to make up for not shaking his hand).
Lawyer: It could be another adjournment.

He was right!

[Note: I am taking off tonight to spend time with friends at a chalet nearby so will catch up with other people’s blogs on Monday – in meantime have a great weekend!]


“Totally and utterly stupid.”

Yesterday morning Ming and I went to our third appointment with the lawyer and were told that the first court appearance next week will simply be a reading of the charges and an adjournment until the end of February. We were also given the video of the police interview conducted the night of the accident. Ming has been told to watch it with a notebook in hand in case he wants to change or retract anything he said.

We were going to watch it together but after he went to bed last night, I decided to watch it by myself just in case I had an emotional reaction. The interview began after midnight, the night of the accident, and went for 80 minutes and was conducted while I was waiting with my friends in the foyer of the police station. My mother was with me for the first part of the night but when my friends arrived I told her to go to the hospital which she did. By that time I had stopped sobbing more or less and Ming was finally released at 3am.

During all of those hours I had no idea how the children were and I had no idea what was happening with Ming. These were very dark hours. After the police station, Ming and I went straight to the hospital to see the children and families (except for one nephew who had been flown, with my brother, to Perth from the scene of the accident).

Well now I do know what was happening with Ming during those earlier hours. Two policemen sat on either side of him at a round table and he was questioned about every detail of the accident. Every now and then Ming’s voice caught on a sob as if he had been crying previous to the interview. He answered all of the questions honestly and politely and if he didn’t know, or couldn’t remember, that, too, was noted.

When asked to talk about each of the children, his voice went soft with emotion and a couple of times he sighed before he was able to go on with a steady voice. At no point did he attempt to make any excuses or defend his actions and when asked to state his own opinion of himself and what he had done he said, with no hesitation:

“Totally and utterly stupid.”

I am glad I watched this without Ming because of course it brought back the horror of that night and of course I cried a lot. But now I will be able to watch it with him calmly and help him make notes, although I didn’t hear him say anything but the truth so I don’t really think there is any need to add anything.

He has been charged with five counts of dangerous driving causing bodily harm and obviously he will plead guilty. We found out last week that the car insurance will not pay which is understandable but still a blow. I haven’t told Anthony this; in fact I told him the exact opposite because he sold some very precious shares that he has had for decades in order to buy Ming the ute on his last birthday.

And to top things off, the lawyer said that the barrister he has obtained for Ming charges $4,000 per day! I nearly fell off my chair at this almost incomprehensible amount of money and I have no idea how we are going to manage except that tomorrow I turn 55 and can access my superannuation so in that sense we are very lucky. I would have been panicking otherwise. Now I am just a bit shell-shocked!

This has already been a very long and hard journey in terms of the initial shock, the injuries and slow recovery of the children, and finally now the court case which may go on a bit – I’m not sure.

For many in my family there have undoubtedly been days of utter hopelessness and waiting so long for various splints and casts and braces to come off has been a test of endurance, not just for the kids, who have been magnificently brave and stoic, but for their parents, siblings, my mother, Ming and me.

Now, for Ming and me, there is a different kind of waiting – for the eventual sentencing. I had thought this would all be much faster and I’ve been kind of holding my breath, waiting for it all to be over, for Ming to take his punishment, and for all of us to be able to move on into our various next chapters.

Totally and utterly stupid.

Because there is no point in holding my breath – and I have been doing this for too long now, both metaphorically and physically. Breathing will become the focus of every new day and breathing will get us through the next few months of whatever and, best of all, despite the accident, we are all still breathing.

And for this I thank God, the ambulance attendants, the hospital staff, my family, but most of all I thank the five children injured for their heroism, generosity of spirit, humour, and love to Ming, me and each other.