Friday, 2 October 2015

Complicated times and complicated feelings

I am away from home having escaped from Sydney this morning. Was in Sydney for complicated reasons.

I need to write and express my feelings. Maybe if you read it, you may find it helps you understand other people more clearly.

Michael with his sister Anne
Yesterday we visited my husband’s older sister in Lithgow hospital. This is the last time we will see her. Anne has cancer, mainly in the brain but also at other sites. Anne is just three years older than my husband and the other sister is eleven years younger again. As you can expect that visit was difficult.

Poor Anne was just feeling a little off-colour. Off to her GP she went and has never returned home again. It has been only six weeks and she is now bed-ridden, paralysed down one side and needs to be spoon fed. The positive side is that Anne has a constant stream of visitors from the Lithgow community where she and her husband have been active in many clubs and organisations for forty years.

Anne loves the great outdoors
and bushwalking in the Blue Mountains
Anne is also supported and surrounded by her loving family at this horrible time. One of her sons has flown home from Sweden where he left his wife, daughter and new-born son. This was hard to organise because of his residency status, visas, and employment. Another son has flown home from Germany, and his family will arrive in a few weeks. They have a house in Australia and their situation is easier. The oldest son, home from Kenya last year, has revealed personal fortitude and is holding the family together. Another son and a daughter are visiting as often as they can. Don, Anne’s husband, was the one with the long-term chronic health conditions so it has been a shock for him. He has found new strength.

It looks as if this is an affluent family with opportunities galore. No, not at all. Lithgow was a small coal mining town when Anne and Don met. Her parents strongly opposed the marriage, but the young couple were deeply in love. Five children followed and everyone went to Catholic schools. Anne eventually returned to teach in one of those schools after the children had left. The family grew most of their own vegetables in a massive backyard garden. No music lessons or anything fancy. Don worked as a pastry cook and eventually bought the business where he was employed. Not all the children went to university, but those who did paid their own way. Four of the five backpacked and worked in other countries. Two have never married. It is a family where everyone makes a big effort all the time. And everyone loves each other.

I was lucky enough to have accumulated some points and so we were able to fly business class from Darwin to Brisbane and then Brisbane to Sydney. That was comforting. No ambulance was needed for me this time.

The hotel we booked in Sydney, the Mercure near Central Station, was a nightmare. Yes, there were positives. The shower was fabulous. The sheets and towels were meticulously clean. The location was brilliant. We had booked for two people well in advance but it was non-refundable so we were stuck with it. The housekeeping staff did service the room while we were there and so I know that what we experienced is the recognised standard for this hotel. I like it when the phone works. Not at the Mercure! I like to have toiletries provided. At least there was soap and toilet tissue. I like it when the drains actually work and the water drains from the hand basin instead of just sitting there for an hour. I like it when the TV controls work too. I like to have a pillow for my head. The brochure about a pillow menu was completely false as no such service existed and I did not even have a pillow. The Mercure in the Sydney CBD thinks those things are unnecessary. But they were happy to take my money. Our stay was absolutely ghastly. The staff at Reception would not even serve me when I approached. Weird men in the foyer kept trying to steal my luggage even though I was holding it firmly. No-one tried to steal my husband’s luggage, so it was very unnerving. NEVER EVER book into that place. Sleeping in the gutter would be better!

Good to see family members who live far from us. Sad times. Horrible accommodation. Lovely flights. Wonderful meal at a nice restaurant last night. We went to a cafĂ© this morning for breakfast and the girl tried to charge us $60 for our food because she did not know the difference between 60 and 16. I expected the weather to be cold and packed accordingly. No, it’s not cold. There are pretty flowers. The public transport system here is wonderful. I realise I am in an emotional torrent. Up and down, tossing, bumping. To anyone who sees me there is no sign.

The next person who annoys you could be just like me right now. Or worse. Try to imagine why. It might help you to maintain your equilibrium. Someone needs to stay evenly balanced.


  1. Hi Louise, I am sending you hugs and prayers for all of the stress you have in your life. Family in most cases are a tight group. I am one of ten and I know that the brothers and sisters are there during the time of need. Take Care/ Hugs and Prayers from Your Missouri Friend Shirley

  2. What a difficult time you are going through.

  3. Sorry to hear your sad news Louise.

    I have no words, just sending you big hugs xoxo

  4. Thank you to everyone for the kind words. I appreciate it. It did me a lot of good to write about my feelings.
    I need to remind myself that what you see on people's faces can hide inner disasters. Those who are brave do not look any different from those who ask for help. Sometimes we are hurt by other people, like me and the girl taking the money for breakfast, when there is a substantial reason. I hope I become more understanding of others and become more tolerant without being a doormat.


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