Tapestry series no. 16

Date contributed: 05.12.1996

Contributed by Jill Hunter

I was born late October in 1947, on a farm at Shelbourne, Victoria, and my brother Norman was born on the farm 14 months later. Unfortunately, our mother passed away in April 1958 – she was only 34 years of age. I had turned 10 on the preceding October. Her heart simply stopped beating on the night of April 30th. I guess I was never really allowed to mourn her properly. My brother (aged 9) and I were not allowed to attend her funeral (although I can’t remember asking to go) we were packed off that night to an aunt and uncle and that was it.

My mother was Scottish and so in October 1958, we (Dad, Norman & I) sailed from Perth, W. A. to Southhampton, England. My mother’s ashes are buried at Logie, near Stirling, with her parents, although her mother, my gran was still living then.

I remember missing her terribly, but Dad was both father and mother to us. He was absolutely wonderful. When I was born, I had been booked in to go to the Methodist Ladies College at Kew. Dad therefore had to tell me ‘the facts of life’ (not an easy task for a man), buy my first bra, show me what to do when I got my first period etc. I spent only one year at M.L.C, because I was so terribly homesick for the farm, Dad and Norman.

Dad was a wonderful father, but I do remember that when ‘things’ went wrong during my teenage years I blamed it all on the fact that I had no mother! Pretty immature and irrational really, but that’s how I felt at the time.

I fell pregnant at the age of 18. Father told me I was pregnant because I was so terribly sick and apparently Mum had been like that when she was expecting Norman and I. Dad was wonderful and told me that I didn’t have to get married if I didn’t want to, but I being worldly wise at 18, I had Lisa Jane, just 4 weeks after my 19th birthday, in December 1966. She was 11 weeks premature, weighing in at 3 pounds 12 ounces. Kerry, her sister, was born in April 1969. I left their father in July 1975, because of his drunkenness and physical abuse.

Unfortunately in 1977, after I had divorced Peter, I had a dreadful car accident in Sandringham, when a semi-trailer went through a red light and cleaned me up in my car. I suffered a stroke which left my left side completely paralysed. I have since learnt to walk though they said I’d spend the rest of my life in a wheel chair. My stepmother also said that it was God punishing me for my sins. I was approaching my 30th birthday in the October and prior to the accident I thought that 30 was so OLD! When Dad told me what had happened to me, I kept thinking how lucky I was to be alive – God had spared me to be the mother to my two girls. The mother that I’d never had. That thought kept me going all the long months that I lay in hospital.

I remarried in July 1982 and I am very close (not geographically) to both Lisa and Kerry. Lisa lives in Sydney and flies 747s and 767s for Qantas – it didn’t hold her back being a ‘premmie’. Kerry lives in Cairns with her fiance and has a good job. I raised them on my own and am proud that even with all the ‘upsets’ in their lives, they have ‘turned’ out to be responsible adults.

Lisa flew us to London in 1991, so I got to go back to Stirling, in Scotland, where my mother is buried, and see her grave through the eyes of an adult. I still cry for her, as I now cry writing this story.

My dad passed away in October 1986, and he is buried in Maldon cemetery. I go there on the anniversary of both Mum and Dad’s deaths. Another point of interest is that Mum died on the exact date – 30th April – that she and Dad met in Scotland 1944.

I loved my dad so very much because he tried so hard to makeup for Mum leaving us.