When I was a kid my family already had enough members for our own basketball team and mum was pregnant. One day in a small country town called Clare my dad drove my mom to the front door of the hospital to have our sister and said “I’m out of smokes I’ll be back in a few” and till the day he died 40 years later he never came back home.
While mom was in hospital he took every stitch of furniture and clothing we had, because his girlfriend/bitch/slut/family wrecking whore needed them for her love nest?
Mum came home with 6 kids under 15, 4 0f us under 10, 2 under 5, to a housing commission home with even the kitchen sink stolen. She had no way to earn a living except her sewing and her garden, so she got us kids in the back yard and had a game, who ever could dig over the largest patch of the green lawn in the quickest time got a prize, the prize was we got to plant seeds and seedling of vegetables.
Before mum had met my asshole of a father she was a qualified seamstress and tailor, so our front door became a revolving door. She made every wedding dress, graduation dress, party dress, bridesmaid dress in the 100 mile area of our home and we ripped up all garden and lawn and planted vegetables, strawberries and herbs.
With my sister in a stroller and me a beside her pushing an old English high wheel pram full of strawberries and veggies and herbs, she would go from pub to pub to pub at the back door because women were not allowed in the front back then and she sold her wares. A sympathetic friend who was a long haul trucker used to get her sales on his route and twice a month we would load his truck with the food we grew.
She made a livable wage, barely because their alternative was a truck that drove 200 miles round trip and they paid double for delivery.
We had relatives who knew we were broke and a few came with a “chicken they had extra” or a “lamb they killed extra” or a “side of beef they had extra” but from family that wasn’t a regular thing even though they owned and ran millions of acres of cattle and sheep properties, and we had an honorary uncle “George lowther” he was no relation he was just one of those friends of your parents who you were forced to call uncle”
Uncle George was a man mountain, 6ft 6 and 400lbs and his wife “aunty Barbara” was 4ft 10 inch and 80lbs they were hilarious when she was too much he would simply put her over his massive shoulder.
From my earliest memory aunty Barbara was sick, she always had a walker or a cane and a table with literally dozens of different medications on it, yet George despite his massive size was literally and officially as fit as a bull.
George worked at an army base as a maintenance man, and always was buying bingo tickets at the pub (in Australia you put 20cents in a machine and if the ticket spells bingo depending on the color you win from 50 cents to 100 dollars)
George always showed up at Christmas with a “turkey he won at the pub” or a Christmas ham or 10lb of sausages he was a mensch, as we say in Oz he was bloody true blue.
At his funeral we met the pub owner and the butcher and grocer he never won any of it he used to special order for as he told them “his angels in the city who were doing it hard”
But Barbara was always sick we figured she would die first, But one year George’s doctor retired and a new guy forced him on a diet and he lost 100lbs quickly and had a heart attack and died. We took over care of aunty barb and she was always sick, I used to ride over on my bike and mow her lawns and do her shopping and pick up her meds, and I used to think “I never want to be as sick her, I never want to be that house bound and reliant as others”.
I don’t know what happened to aunty barb, when I became estranged from my family she was still in an elder care village with her walker and her pills and her six dogs and two cats and four parrots.
Since 2007 I have been permanently using a wheelchair for my ability to get around, due to an inherited neurological condition complicated by a serious attempt to kill me which left me with spinal cord injury and I sit home during the day.
I used to be very active with judo and rock climbing and swimming and road racing and more in my wheelchair, until October last year when my shoulder was smashed up and in February I had reconstruction surgery.
Today as I write I am in my mid-fifties at home with two wheelchairs two canes one dog three cats and used to have two birds, I have a cupboard full of numerous drugs I must take daily and Ella does most things a healthy person would do for themselves, I have become Aunty Barbara!
The funny thing is aunty barb and Uncle George, lived basically off the grid way up in the Adelaide hills and coincidentally Ella and I are moving to a similar place shortly.
Is this what life is? As a child you’re shown what your future could be? I feel as if I was visited by the ghosts of Christmas future as a kid and the rides to mow lawns and pick up shopping was the universes way of saying this could be you!
Aunty Barb, I believe lived to almost 100, so maybe there is hope that Ella and I still have many years to raise hell, the difference is we have no one on a bike to ride over its just Ella and I but then it always has been and probably always will be.
Look around at the elders you care for, look at how they live what their medical conditions are and ask yourself is that I am I being shown my life or just what it could be?
The answer is upto you!