Well, I have bitten the bullet and am putting up a story which covers both the challenges for last week and this week.
Not Without a Lot of Tears
It was the 15th of March 1947 . This was the day Nat and I celebrated our marriage at the old church in Leichhardt. The air was heady with the smell of frangipani and carnations. The organist was playing and the beautiful words of “Because” completed the backdrop to our wedding. Our journey together was about to start we had a lifetime in front of us.
In 1948 our happiness was complete Jeffrey, our first child was born. Jeff grew and blossomed into a lovable toddler. Our little family was all we wanted.
A cousin’s wedding provided us with the opportunity to visit my family. We travelled to Broken Hill and Jeffrey was introduced to his grandparents and great grandparents. Returning home, I was so excited to discover I was pregnant again.
I did not realise it at the time but, the next ten or so years would prove to be amongst the hardest times I could possibly imagine.
My beautiful baby was stillborn and whisked away as soon as he was delivered. You have to remember that’s the way it was then. I never nursed or saw him. I never knew where or when he was buried. For months on end, I continued to wonder why, how, where and when. There were no answers, no help, we just had to get on with our lives. That’s the way it was then.
Tragedy struck again Barry Thomas was born in 1953. We were so excited. I tried to hide my grief for the boy I’d lost. But, six months later Barry died. His death was related to a severe reaction to being immunised. He suffered severe and toxic damage to the central nervous system .
Could I believe that? All I had were questions. Was it the vaccination? Did I do something wrong? Why me again? Why!
I was distraught with grief. Bit by bit, another piece of my heart and soul was torn away. I coped by keeping his belongings from the hospital. I kept them for years. They were neatly rolled up and fastened with the safety pin from his nappy.
I knew I had a son and a husband who loved me and I loved them, but I was grieving, deep inside, I was grieving. That’s the way it was then. For the sake of family, I had to go on.
Two years later pregnant again and in the January, Nerida Jean was born. A beautiful baby girl. Surely everything would be alright this time? Our happiness did not last, at six months Nerida was diagnosed with a tumour in her right eye. The treatment was cruel and horrible, operations and cobalt ray treatment. We never knew what the day would bring. It was an emotional roller coaster. She fought for fourteen months but it was not to be, and in 1957 she died . No more suffering, no more god-forsaken disease. She was at peace.
Another piece of my heart and soul was torn away. I died inside a little more. No help, no answers, that’s the way it was then.
I had to have strength, the anchor for Nat and Jeff. They’d also suffered loss, heartbreak, and disappointment. They needed me.
Nat started drinking and, I know that for the rest of his life he blamed himself for the tragedies that befallen us.
Little did I know when Nerida died that I was pregnant again? Narelle Jean was born on 31st March 1958 , at five minutes to midnight, just five minutes short of my birthday the next day.
My life changed with Narelle’s arrival and every day I thanked God for allowing Jeffrey and Narelle to grow into adults with children of their own.
Despite Nat’s drinking, we were a good family and loved and cared for one another. We wanted Jeff and Narelle to understand and appreciate the importance of family. We did our best.
I hid my sorrow and always felt the shadows of failure, guilt, and sorrow. I was brave in public but, suffered from depression. My tears were never far away, I kept them for private times. That was the way it was then.
On Father’s day 1963 Joanne was born. Tragedy knocked at my heart again. Joanne was born with multiple organ failure. She passed away the following Tuesday .
It is said no parent should ever have to bury their child. I lost four babies. I could not face any of these tribulations again. I can remember each detail, every event, and I will for the rest of my life.
Life became s almost too much to bear. My family needed me. They depended on me to provide a secure and loving relationship.
We all grieved and sorrow takes its toll differently with each of us. Nat continued to escape with drinking and Jeff, I know he often thought, why them and not me? Narelle was denied the relationships with younger or older sisters.
My childbearing days were over. What was I to do with myself?
Wallow in sorrow and pity, no.
I occupied myself minding children while their mothers worked. This gave me great joy and satisfaction. I treated each of them as though they were my own and poured my love to them. In return, I received such love and attention and lifelong loyalty.
The years passed and I was blessed with five grandsons and three great-grandchildren. Nat and I always remembered the vows we exchanged when we married.
“For better and worse, in sickness and in health”.
In the 1980’s Nat’s health deteriorated, despite the fact he had curbed his drinking. Eventually, he was bed bound, I cared for him at home. By Christmas 1991, his condition had deteriorated and he was hospitalized.
Nat died in my arms on 28th December 1991 .
Someone once said to me, “you have had so much sadness losing four children.”
My reply was, “yes I survived that, but the loss of my life partner was worse”
I sold our home and moved to be with my daughter and son- in-law at Boorowa in New South Wales.
In 2005 I was critically ill and I wrote a letter to be opened after I had died.
“Well when you open this I will be gone, but don’t cry too much as I will be happy where I am and I know you will not forget me. When your father passed away my life was never the same. He was the only man in my life and I loved him dearly…
We both had so much sadness in our married life but we stood together and came through it all, but not without a lot of tears.
I do not want you to cry too much when I have gone, just say well Mum and Dad may meet in heaven very soon. I love you and your family. I hope you enjoy the rest of your life with them and grandchildren,…, Well goodbye and good luck to you all. God bless you all.
Love from Mum, Bonnie, Nan and Great Nan…
Jeff and Narelle were with her holding her hands when Bonnie died in November 2008 . She is buried in Boorowa Cemetery. Nat’s ashes were reinterred with Bonnie on the anniversary of his birthday 13th March 2009. It’s what they would have wanted. That’s the way they did things, together.