My ever-changing world
My world changed forever with that early morning phone call. It was the 8th October 1966. I should have expected it, I told myself that countless times afterwards. It was his first long distance haul and he was on his way home from Sydney with a heavy laden load. It was raining. He was following another truck, learning the route. Coming through Grafton, his brakes failed and he ran into his mate’s truck. He was pinned in the cabin, with minor internal injuries and a compound fracture of his leg. Why would I expect anything else of my accident proned husband?
He was ok, but he was in the Grafton hospital. Frantic calls to his parents and my mother and it was decided the girls would stay with their grandparents and I would take a bus to Grafton, a five hour trip. Outwardly calm, I was seething inside. All our plans down the drain. It would be months before he’d be fit again, I knew that. And in the meantime? Would we have to move again?
These thoughts and more were running through my mind as I prepared to take the bus and waited for the girls to go to their grandparents. They were three and just one year old. Oblivious to the turmoil I was feeling and that heralded a lasting change in their young lives, they would enjoy the time with their grandparents.
A parade was in full swing as the bus pulled out. The happy faces and fun loving scene touched something deep inside and I took note of everything I could see, eating it up for sharing later. This was something he loved. In my minds eye I could see us here last year, new baby, toddler, laughing at his efforts throwing the balls at the bullseye to win a toy. And I realised nothing that happened like this really mattered. This was my life, I would get used to it. He didn’t have these accidents on purpose, I knew that.
For the rest of the bus trip I watched the landscape, storing images to share with him. Life would be hard. Perhaps I’d be able to nurse him at home and care for the older gentleman and look after our little girls as well.
For the first time in a long time I felt peace. I was done with my desperate need for security, finding instead a kind of security I hadn’t felt before. Here I was, 18, a mum, a carer, a friend, a daughter, a sister, and a wife. Already my life was so rich in ways I’d not been able to see before. I knew this feeling might change and this insight might fade as I faced this new challenge over the days and weeks ahead. But for now I was luxuriating in this feeling of peace.
As the bus drew into Grafton and I caught a glimpse of the jacaranda trees in full spring bloom, I felt hope and an eagerness to face this future challenge. I’d carry that image of those glorious blossoms into the future with me - a symbol of the hope I was feeling.
The hospital had sent someone to greet me and I was grateful for their consideration.
“I’ve got some bad news,” she said. “His situation has shifted for the worse.”
My heart sank and I followed her to the car, silently praying as we drew closer to the hospital.