My brother unfortunately was a child of the Rubella virus and was born stone deaf. He was problematic for my mother who used to devote a lot of time to him; no one knew how to deal with those children. This was good for me as I was allowed to do exactly as I wanted. During World War II we moved to West Leederville – my mother’s family home - from Vic Pk because my father was away for the war.
My parents allowed me the opportunity to be independent and I loved that. When my dad got back from the war he had really bad malaria. I remember him screaming out in the middle of the night with fever. Slowly, slowly he got better.
Women really weren’t encouraged to have a decent career. I always wanted to do medicine but my father wanted me to just get married. All my other friends went nursing. Together we invaded Royal Perth hospital. I don’t know how I survived training, it was absolutely horrific. You had to start at 5am to get your jobs done so that you could serve breakfast to the patients at the right time. Then after your shift you had to wash the soiled linen. I wouldn’t encourage anyone to do nursing. I always queried things, was a bit rebellious. That might be because of my upbringing – being allowed to do whatever I want to. Eventually I got put with a special staff nurse called Margaret Foley, who would come and help me to wash the linen and to do the other less favourable tasks. She was a true mentor and guide to me.
Later my girlfriends and I travelled to the Eastern States for a few years nursing before returning back to Perth when I was 21. My career has remained important to me throughout my life, and after my children were born I went back to work, and eventually retrained as a psychologist after teaching.
I said that I didn’t want to go into family stuff a great deal during this session. But I have five kids, all of whom are wonderful. Two of them have now died. When the first one died I felt like I lost an arm. The following year the other one died and I felt as if I lost a leg. So now I (half jokingly) say that I’m balanced. We speak tenderly and lovingly of our lost ones. My children miss their siblings greatly but time does heal somewhat.
This is a poem written about the old high chair that my mum bought when my first daughter was first born. It is about my granddaughter.
Then sitting up in the high chair, she surveyed all across the table.
Purchased by her great grandmother, for her auntie, almost 50 years passed.
Not one of your chrome jobs, no.
Majestic in its simplicity. Solid, substantial, jarrah.
Bought for the beach house. And visiting grandchildren ever since.
What a joy it would bring to Mon today,
With portrait like viewing in the high chair, of this stellar two year old, golden girl.
A replica of herself.