Biographical Non-Fiction posted June 5, 2016


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Because jusylee72 asked me.

My Life in large Lumps.

by Aussie


Many of you know me from my years of writing poems and stories on Fanstory. A newbie asked me to write my life story, so here it is:

I was born in 1945 when the war ended. My father didn't see me until I was three months old and bald as a badger!
Work was scarce after the war. Dad decided to manage a vegetable-growing property until he could find work closer to the city. He loved horses, and so do I. Show me a horse and I melt to this day. Unfortunately dad was dragged through a barbed-wire fence after the big horse shied at a black snake. Dad was a slightly built man and had no chance of pulling that big horse up. He was badly hurt and after his legs healed we moved to the suburbs of Sydney.

The Australian Govt. granted us a War Service Home in the western suburbs of Sydney. Growing up in Sydney during the fifties was a blast. Life was simple, none of those fancy electrical gadgets we have today. If we lost power, which was often, dad had a huge Hurricane lamp that lit the living areas. Black-outs were common.
We had no refrigeration as such. The ice-man delivered a block of ice every week and we had a meat-keeper. The ice sat below the meat and the flies couldn't get past the flywire door. Soft drinks? No, we didn't have canned, fizzy (you call them sodas) drinks like Coca-Cola - that arrived in the sixties. When Coke did arrive it was consumed readily at six pence a bottle!

Our treat was ginger beer that was delivered to our house in stone bottles to keep it cold. Oh, joy! Mother bought a refrigerator when they went on the market, late fifties. Nothing like today, still it was better than slabs of ice.
There were no such things as supermarkets in the fifties, corner shop sold everything. Frozen veggies? Huh? None of those either. We had a local greengrocer for fresh veggies, some folks grew their own greens.
My Grandpa owned a ham & beef shop and Nan helped him slice real ham and wrap real bread in tissue. Toilet rolls were the pits, so to speak. We cut up the local paper and that was the end of it! No flushing toilets, that came later. Every Friday night the night-carter emptied our outside dunny.
Over the years Pop managed to grow their one ham and beef shop to an amazing thirty-seven stores. A clever business man. When he grew old, he sold those stores to a well- known supermarket that is still in modern society today. They are called Coles Supermarkets and are Australia wide.

We were a family of three, my sister eight years older than me. I led a lonely life; she wasn't interested in her little sister. She was religious and more interested in her trail of boyfriends. She was a beautiful long-distance swimmer and had no fear of high - diving.
So, I entertained myself by fishing on the local wharf and riding my bike. I linked up with kids that had horses and I learnt to ride bare-back. Riding horses gave me the freedom and the love for animals that would come in handy later.
School? I hated every moment of junior school, spent most of my lessons cloud watching or drawing. Copped the cane heaps of times. Still, I managed to pass enough subjects to jump into High School. My grades slumped because what I truly wanted to learn to become an artist.

Dad was my emotional back-stop, he made excuses for me; understood my passion for drawing because he also sketched every spare moment; mostly cartoons.
After much frustration trying to find a job; dad became an industrial machinist, working with his brothers; they built a business repairing hessian bags from companies selling wheat and flour. There were no plastic bags in those days.
Dad offered to make my high school dress from a pattern I was given by the school; the dress was important for me to pass my Intermediate Certificate that would finally be my ticket out of school. That good old dress got me 76 marks out of 100!

I passed my finals and boy, was I glad to get out of jail! Mummy-dearest just stamped her foot! I only wore the dress once. Jumped a fence and tore the back of the skirt, badly. Hee, Hee, said me.

I was fifteen years old when my chance at learning to draw/paint came. Mum approached one of the managers of the Hy-Craft Carpet Factory in Sydney, where she worked. I was fifteen and raring to go! Hy-Craft still manufacture carpets today.

This chance was the best gift that I had ever received in my whole life. I was absorbed into a family of artists in a design studio. Very upmarket in those days. Shaking like a leaf at first, dressed in my best pink, pants suit. I needed to make a good impression. Of course they were all accomplished designers from England. What did they want with a fifteen-year old kid?

My boss, Fred Needham, was the Chief designer from Halifax. All the designer's were brought over from the U.K. in those good old days. Fred was in charge of the whole studio. He could see I felt out of place amongst the elite. And so, he became my teacher and friend over the years I spent in the studio, I ended up being the best darned paint-mixer you ever met!
In the early sixties, our paint didn't come out of a tin - it arrived from the UK in powder-form and we had to use a gigantic spatula to grind all the lumps out.

My boss still loved me when I dropped a four pound, liquid bag of white paint on the carpet! The ground-up pigments were mixed with water and bagged. To this day, I remember the look on his face!

The work was tedious and there was no room for mistakes. The designer would hand a freestyle design to me and I had to translate that design onto graph paper, very exacting work. I had to mix colours and match those colours to the exact colour of the carpet yarns too. My official designation - Carpet Design Copyist.

Whole families worked at the carpet factory. During the war it was turned over to making socks and singlets for our troops. My aunt worked in the dye-house, mum worked in dispatching samples and so on.

After three years I was bored and looking for a different place to work. I am a free-spirit and had been cooped up in an office- environment long enough. I resigned, much to mum's chagrin. Had a month off and then saw an ad in the paper for bus conductresses.

Mum and dad had words over my choice of job. Working on the buses was frowned upon; it was the job for the down and out folks without skills. I was an artist and mum was so upset. Still, life is an adventure to be lived.

Because I was only 5'1 when I had my medical, I had to hope the Dr didn't notice I was standing on the balls of my feet to reach the required height of 5'2 - I passed muster and was given a uniform.

The wages were wonderful, the hours were dreadful. We worked our butts off. Starting at 6am and finishing at 6pm with a three hour break in the middle of the day. Six years I stayed with the Dept. of Govt. Transport. Met a driver, he fell in love with me, we were married in Sydney in 1969. I was twenty-three, he was thirty-eight. I was not in love with him.
I loved him as a friend, no more than that. I needed to get away from my parent's constant bickering. In hindsight, it was the worst choice I could have made. Still, every life experience is a learning experience.

Growing up in a grog-free home, I knew nothing about alcoholics. Sure, I had seen them staggering around the streets of Sydney. Even thrown them off my double-decker bus (I studied Martial Arts for five years) nothing could have prepared me for what was to come.

Six months into the marriage all hell broke loose. I came home from work to find him cooking dinner and shouting at me.

"Where have you been?" He said, staggering around the kitchen.
"Our bus was late getting in to the depot," I said, shaking in my boots.
"I don't believe you, you've been with a new boy," he ripped the oven door off it's hinges in a rage.

I took off down the stairs like a scared rabbit. Threw some things together, bolted down the second lot of stairs to the front door.

He was waiting for me at the plate- glass, front door.
"Where do you think your going?" He slurred.
"Get out of my way or I'll floor you," I replied, with some hope of not having to use my martial arts skills. I didn't want to hurt him.

He wouldn't let me pass so I used a Japanese neck-punch. He folded like a umbrella, slid down the wall. I was off like a shot. As I ran for my car, It was then I realised my hand was bleeding badly. In the furore, my fist had gone straight through the plate-glass on the front door.

When I finally reached my parent's house I was covered in blood. Dad opened the front door and said, "Christ! Have you been in an accident?"
The marriage was doomed from the start. I wouldn't take him back until he got himself sorted out, and sober. After six months away from each other, he was sober and sorry. I did take him back for ten whole years. I guess I stayed out of loyalty.

We should never have married. In those days we did the right thing; I wouldn't have just lived with him. I watched him build our house bit by bit. This was a great rehabilitation exercise for him. We lived on the mighty Hawkesbury River and went fishing a great deal. I think the fishing kept me sane. He didn't want me to work. I wanted something for myself. I NEEDED to work, I was only twenty-eight years old. He, an old man to me.

I saw an ad in the paper for nurses. I made an appointment and was accepted for a training programme. Nursing became a huge part of my growing up. I trained firstly in geriatrics then moved on to nursing terminally ill children and finally, psychiatric nursing; when I was burnt out from nursing, I moved on to working in a Sheltered Workshop for disabled adults.

Eventually, when my husband had finished our house, I fell in love with another person and left. He was devastated, he waited three years in the hope I would return. I never did.
Still, we are friends to this day. He is in his eighties and we exchange birthday cards. How's that for a friendship? I'm seventy now and he's eighty-four. He still lives on the river in the house he built and he still has his 'housekeeper' (lady friend) from when we split. And I must say I am proud of him, he never took another drink. He became an A.A. counsellor.

Yes, I thought I was madly in love with a lady. Shock horror. My parents were very good about it all and accepted my friend as a third daughter.

I spent my nursing days with my friend and finally moved in with her. I think what I was looking for was a surrogate mother. My mother couldn't show me love and was physically abusive towards me. The partnership lasted fifteen years until...

On my way home from work one day, I was hit by a drunk driver. I was riding a motorbike. Temporary citizens, we were called in those days. I had given my friend my car and taken to the busy Sydney roads on a very fast bike.

The driver that hit me left a stop sign without seeing me, he was drunk and an old man that should not have been driving. I was thrown over the front of his Ford, tearing my left leg to pieces. I spent three months in hospital in the hope that a re-building programme could restore the lost muscle and bone.
Thirteen operations and nine blood transfusions later, the Drs gave me the news that they couldn't save the leg.

Whilst I was cocooned in the hospital, my friend had taken up with another woman.

As I learnt to walk, she hovered around me and became secretive; then told me she had another friend, but still loved me? Ha! Parallel loves she called it.

I made the mistake of hanging on to her because I was disabled, lonely, jobless and thought she would care for me the rest of my life. How wrong I was.

After three years, the Supreme Court of Australia awarded me half a million dollars in compensation for the accident. The hospital bills came to $55.000 and other aids that helped me cope ate into that money; I ended up with $245,000.

I went nuts with the money. The first thing I bought was a sport's car. My freedom machine. The second thing I bought; six horses to start a riding school. The school failed and I gave the horses to Riding for the Disabled.
I am proud to tell you I was one of the first disabled people to be elected to the national body of Riding for the Disabled.

Still, Margaret hung around; sniffing money was her way. Me, in my frail state, gave her anything she needed. Over the years, she bled me dry. Oh, I forgot to say, she was an alcoholic too.

We traveled to Singapore and took her daughter, saw New Zealand, Tasmania and finally, a star started shining for me. I had always wanted to see the U.K. Never in my wildest dreams did I think it would come true.

A teacher friend offered to take me on her annual trip. I still remember 1988 - my Dad passed over and I left for England. My grandmother came from Norwich, in England, I wanted to see where she was buried. We travelled 4,000 miles from London to Scotland and beyond. I still have 200 photos of my favourite country.

Whilst I was away I had time to think through my life and made some hard decisions. When I returned to Oz I sold the beautiful house that I had bought, this move forced Margaret's hand; she left and went to her other so-called love. We did keep in touch.

Now, I was living in a trailer-park and most unhappy, I needed people, not that many people!

I bought another house in the country, it was a challenge on my own. A large five-bedroom place. I was free, with my three cats and one dog.

To wile away the hours I started to paint again. I ended up teaching and loved it. The town was small, nestled in the foothills of the D'aguilar Ranges. I slowly made friends in the town and decided to start an art gallery for the residents.
I even took up lawn bowls at night. Yes, I was lonely, but I was surviving and happy back painting. The art gallery I started still stands today with many active members.

I finally threw up my hands in mental despair "I can't do this alone anymore!" I posted an ad in a local paper for a live-in-carer. Lea answered my post and would you believe, she has been caring for me for over twenty years. Talk about chalk and cheese. She was a work-horse and I, a flighty filly.

I sold my country house with the five bedrooms and we entered Public Housing. We have moved around with housing and I have just applied for a transfer on medical grounds. Lea is no longer that strong work horse; she found out she had the disabling disease, Rheumatoid arthritis.

And so we bumble along, helping each other, or not. I fear for the future because we are both so disabled and my family have all passed over, beyond the realms of this life. And Lea's Dad is eighty-seven and on his way to heaven.

And then there was fanstory! You guys keep me sane, I think. Or I drive you mad with my agony aunt replies.

Sometimes I wish I didn't wake up because of the chronic pain. I believe that there is more work to do. I am a thirty-year old in a seventy-year olds body.
This poor old body is worn out and the accident has brought me so low; arthritis has me by the short and curly's. No, I don't feel sorry for myself, when I am in a lot of pain I pray and lift up all those folks who are suffering more than me.

I have had a great life my friends. I have won medals for swimming, horse-riding, martial arts, art exhibitions and so on. I have travelled the world, met people from all walks of life (I love people) maybe you gathered that by now. I have learnt humility through hard lessons set for me.
God is my salvation and my first stop when people need praying for. Lately, I have been asking Him "when, Oh Lord, when can I come home to you?" He remains quietly smiling and lifting me up.

I think I have covered my life in large lumps. I basically like short story writing because long stories cause me much physical pain. I want to finish this today.
Then I can get back to my first love, poetry. My dear friend Brooke and I started on fanstory around eight years ago - she taught me so much, I miss her still.

So, here endeth my story. I spend most days at home, a little painting and cooking. Someone takes me swimming to a hydrotherapy pool once a week. I look forward to that. I have a mobility scooter and that darn machine can climb mountains.

Oh, did I mention? I do want to do two more things before I pop off. I would love to learn scuba-diving and sailing for the disabled. I firmly believe that He has more for me to do.














Share Your Story contest entry

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A contest entry: Australian English and grammar. My life story, mostly colourful and now you know all about me. Today, I am a prisoner of my electric wheelchair. I still paint a little and write a little. Fanstory has given me friendship and an outlet for my poems and stories. Without the help of Brooke (adewpearl) I think I would still be struggling. Edit to your heart's content. Enjoy or cry, but mostly, remember life was meant to be lived and don't feel sorry, be glad for all your adventures. Thanks for reading, my fanstorians.
Pays one point and 2 member cents.


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