wings and things



Such a strange realisation!

An ‘aha!’ moment!

The inability to get to the ‘finish line’ or the ‘punch line’ was making me utterly miserable (as well as my inability to understand/implement Tolle’s NOW concept, cope with a depressive episode, watch myself grieve for Anthony in a way that seemed premature).

But it wasn’t any of those bracketed BIG things that were bothering me; it was the fact that the few remnants of weeks and weeks of decluttering, finding history, reorganising the house/farm etc. were still here.

It was the remnants!

Old books, doilies, Anthony’s school report from when he was little, old photos of my dad when he was young, bark paintings from our years in Papua New Guinea, a thousand buttons, a pile of costume jewellery, a silk corset and bra wrapped in newspaper for 100 years, bits of china that would be valuable if not cracked, old instruction manuals from before I was born, and a whole lot of bits and pieces that must have had sentimental value for someone before Anthony was born, and maybe even before Gar, his mother, was born.

So today I began this last phase by going to the dump with Ming and unloading a very full ute-load of rubbish; then I proceeded to use a knife to cut up a very big carpet mat underneath my bed (it had to be cut up to be manageable) and Ming helped me. The dust that came out from beneath that ancient carpet was justification enough to get rid of it – wonderful!

And now I have contacted the heritage park people to come over for a final browse, I am going to advertise the gramophone and other items online (once I figure out how), and I’ve already boxed up historical material for the relative who is interested.

Every single photo/photo album in now in Anthony’s cupboard so I just have to do the scanning bit by bit by bit whilst being with him.

And my point in this ridiculously self-indulgent post?

I was stuck at the ‘unfinish line’ and now I’m not. Full steam ahead!

Very grateful for comments and am going to reply to them now. I don’t even ‘get’ why I had such a downer when my new neighbour/hairdresser, Camille, made my hair a wildish red, I met my beautiful mama for lunch on Friday and laughed my head off, met with my best friend Tony yesterday for lunch and Ming bought me Dylan Moran tickets for my Mother’s day present – so many great things.


Oh and Dina is coming for dinner in a couple of weeks (well, she is coming to cook risotto in her thermomix) so I better get finished with these remnants asap.

My conversation with Ming a few seconds ago:

Me: I’m over my blah finally, Ming.

Ming: How’d you do that?

Me: Got a few things done I guess.

Ming: Jobs, jobs, jobs!

Me: Well we had a lovely time at the dump today didn’t we? [At the dump Ming had yelled out, ‘Mum, this is glorious! We’re not fighting! What a beautiful dump run!’]

Ming: It’s probably due to Sontime.

Mmmm – that is definitely an unfinished conversation!


The weird experience

The other day I met one of my brothers, BJ, for lunch at the restaurant where Ming works so Ming took his lunch break at the same time. The three of us talked, ate, and laughed together and then, just as Ming was about to go back to work, he told us that on his way into town that morning, he had lost control of his little car on a big roundabout and it had spun full circle on the newly wet roads (it is autumn here so we’ve had some rain).

Ming said that a truck, and its driver, slowed down and witnessed his near-accident but luckily there was no other traffic as it was very early in the morning. Okay so BJ and I digested this information as we finished our meals then we went our separate ways.

At the time, I didn’t quite process that Ming had nearly been in another car accident/caused another car accident/come out of a potential car accident alive/not injured anyone in a car accident that was his fault … and that everything was okay … until I got into my own car to go to the nursing home. I began to perspire….

It was a cool day but by the time I got to the nursing home I was quite hot. I went to sit with Anthony for awhile before going on duty and, as his room is always so hot, because he feels the cold so badly, I thought my perspiration was due to that.

An hour later I was on duty in the dementia cottage and absolutely drenched in perspiration – every single strand of my hair was wet and the carer I was working with probably assumed it was menopause.

Anyway, I did my shift, sweatily and with no conscious thought of Ming’s near accident, then went home, still so drenched in perspiration that I had to put the air-conditioner on in the car even though the weather was cold. Just before I knocked off, Ming texted me saying, “home safe” and I wondered why he would do that because I had completely forgotten about his near-accident experience!

When I got home, Ming came out to meet me as he does and had all of the outside + garage lights on. I got out of the car and this was our conversation:

Me: Ming, I have had one of those sweat attacks – hyperhidrosis or whatever. Look at me – I am drenched!

Ming: Me too, Mum – me too! I was shaking and nearly crying when I got to work and sweating all day.

Me: Is that why you texted me you were home safe?

Ming: Yes! I thought you’d be worried.

Me: To be honest, Ming, I forgot about it.

Ming: So why are we both sweating?

I am quite interested in the fact that my mind didn’t absorb yet another close call in terms of Ming’s safety and yet my body absorbed it like a leaking sponge!

Will the car accident that Ming caused ever leave us? It has strengthened some relationships, weakened other relationships and probably mystified all of us in the ways in which it has affected us, individually – the nephews who went to the scene of the accident, for example; the mother who was overseas when it happened; the guilt we probably all feel for somehow allowing it – I don’t know anymore.

What I do know is that I am grateful, every single day since the accident, for the fact that every single person assaulted by that accident is still alive, still able to flourish, still able to overcome the obstacle of that terrible memory, still able to be.


And on a lighter note!

Last week Ming got his driver’s licence back. He had to do a written and a practical driving test and the very next day we went up to Perth to collect the little second-hand Toyota Yaris (he has christened it “Fran”) that he had arranged to buy with his savings. Obviously our insurance claim on his ute/truck didn’t pay, but even if it had, Ming never wants another ute again so someone bought it for parts and towed it away earlier in the month. The sight of it out in the back yard, for all of these past months, is not something I will miss although it still has a kind of ghostly presence there, slowly fading.

Ming felt there was one last thing he had to do (to move on, I guess) and that was to go back to the site of the accident and remove his P-plate from the tree he’d crashed into. After the accident it had been stuck up high on the tree and we were never sure if the police or insurance people did this to mark the spot for further investigation, or if it was just someone being nasty. In any case, yesterday, Ming took our old ute and a ladder up there and removed the P-plate. He also found bits of debris from the crash so he removed those too and brought them home to be taken to the dump.

Having regained his independence, the angry Ming of the last few months seems to have disappeared and the angelic Ming has returned – haha! In a way I guess we have now come full circle in the sense that he was a newly licenced driver when the accident occurred and now he is again a newly licenced driver but with an older head on his shoulders. So that is that. Or is it?

Naively, I had thought that once Ming got a car and his independence back, there would somehow be a feeling of closure (for me, I mean), but I relapsed last week into some of the feelings described in the last two posts. The closest I can get to describing this is to liken it to waking up just before a nightmare has come to its conclusion, so you never get to “The End”, and you don’t get that phew of relief that it was only a nightmare. Perhaps the notion of closure is a myth we have invented in order to make things neat and tidy again after a traumatic experience. Perhaps it is living with and beyond the absence of closure that makes people stronger, wiser, even kinder. I don’t know.

What I do know, however, is that I have never seen anything as funny as big, tall Ming folding himself into little, tiny “Fran”!



It seems a bit obvious to say that once a disease, or a disorder, has been named, even acronymmed, it exists as a real, recognized condition. For me, this has become an inviolable truth.

PTSD stands for post-traumatic stress disorder and it affects, in horrible ways, those who have been victims of wars, violent crimes, child abuse, terminal illness, and accidents (to name just a few).

When people come out of an experience where they could have died, but didn’t; where they could have been permanently injured, but recovered, there is an unspoken expectation that rejoicing is the correct response.

But is doesn’t happen like that. I wish it did, but it doesn’t.

When my son’s car accident injured four of his cousins and a friend last October, it altered the microcosm of our family world in ways that have been profoundly good, profoundly bad and sometimes a strange mix.

Naively, I thought/hoped that once the children had recovered from their injuries, once the court case was over, once we all forgave each other for allowing that joyride, everything would go back to normal.

But it wasn’t that simple. One mother was in another country that night and had to hear the news on the phone; I was busy in the kitchen and didn’t know my son had taken the kids for a ride; everyone else was outside on the front veranda, drinking, eating, talking and having fun. At some stage, the joyride was casually approved, ignored, disapproved, cajoled, forbidden, unnoticed ….

….until the phone-call: “Mum, I’ve had an accident – everyone is alive.”

I thought he was kidding; I thought he was in his shed with the kids; I even laughed at what I thought was a joke – until I realized. And that was when the rest of us got into our cars and raced off before we even knew where the accident had happened. On the phone, my son had told me the road (just around the corner), but my mind went to mush and I ended up on a nearby gravel road and rang a friend, sobbing, terrified, and she went straight to the accident scene to join my brothers and I went home to tell my mother and sister-in-law.

I found the two women frantic so we then went straight into town to the hospital, all of us crying. When we got there and found all of the children injured but alive, the relief was something I will never forget. I then had to go to the police station and wait (with my beautiful friends) for hours until my son was released from questioning. He was as white as a sheet and shaking and his remorse (he had lost control on gravel) was overwhelming. I then took him to the hospital to see the children after reassuring him that they would all eventually be okay.

And now? Yes, all of the children have recovered after having to be in various spinal braces, leg splints etc. One niece had to be in a brace for months! All of them are fine now, physically, and don’t mind talking about that night but….

We adults are more aged and less resilient and each of us deals with the pstd aftermath differently, and sometimes in ways that are incompatible with each other. The remembered shock and horror of that night will always be part of who I am, and my absolute fear for, and love of, each and every member of my family that night is fierce.

The aftermath has been, and continues to be, a challenge for many of us but, with all my heart, I hope the pstd can abate soon for those of us still having nightmares, crying in our sleep, and waking up with the thud of fear.

I sometimes recreate my mother, my brothers and their families, and my son, into a huge lego castle of compassion and forgiveness and glee in the hope that pstd will dissipate in the sharing of words, company, or alone-seeking mountains. We have all dealt with this near-tragedy in different ways because each of us is an individual and, ultimately, alone. Alone is important and necessary I guess and I love it, but, since the accident, I have discovered loneliness in all of its intensity because I have recognised it in someone else.

When someone wants to be left alone, LEAVE THEM ALONE! Love doesn’t need proximity and sometimes its distance is a gift. It is very difficult sometimes to cope with the love and attention of well-meaning friends and family when you just want to be in your own space and deal with your own stuff without the burden of other people’s compassion.

This is to you, to me, to all of us.