So here we are again, it’s been ages since I have written a blog, I have to say first of all a big thank you to everyone for the supporting emails and messages, and the two main purposes of me doing this is for me not to hold onto my past anymore and in some way move from it, and second of all maybe one reader out there somewhere might find a little inspiration and not feel the lost, isolating feeling I felt, and that with motivation you can become something more than a victim, something more than a survivor, a person with absolute passion for life (oh god what a wank that sounds like, but oh so true).
So if this is your first reading of my blog or need a catch up at least, read the previous post so your up to speed, this blog hasn’t been light hearted to say the least and I’m really sorry it doesn’t get much better at the moment, but I do promise it will get a little more fun eventually. This next chapter spans over around four months.
And so we continue… Each one of us said goodbye to Mum in the hallway of the hospital, my youngest sister April, my middle sister Alexis and then me, I couldn’t bring myself to look her in the eye or even give her a hug, my Dad said, “Come on lets go”. We followed him and Michelle through the hospital, my Mum getting wheeled away by a nurse supposedly to her room. We followed the adults to the car park and into the car, Dad drove the car silently and Michelle in the front seat making conversation with us kids about random silly things to lighten the mood, Alexis and April fell for her game, but not me, I leaned against the window staring outside silently as well, I glanced at Dad who must have looked at me at the same time in the rearview mirror, was this our first “moment”, were we thinking the same thing, was that a tiny silent non verbal connection, I don’t know but for some reason this cheered me up in some way.
We drove to Michelle and Jacko’s house, Dad dropped us off and said that Mum was going to be coming back to the house and he wanted to settle her in first before we came back, which suited me absolutely fine, the sight of seeing Mum like that brought back every horrible feeling from the day that she had her stroke, the panic and helplessness and the thought of living in the same roof with Dad was such a terror that I couldn’t face, he said goodbye to my sisters and glanced at me, got in the car and drove off. Was this another moment that we just had, for some reason this one made me feel guilt for some reason, like I had done something wrong. For the next two weeks things kind of went into a routine, I rode my bike in the back car park by myself, trying my hardest to ride with no hands, I had a thing, I would promise myself the best food in the world if I could go a metre without falling “Ok Jamie if you just a little further then I will eat pizza and ice cream” After I got there I pushed myself, but for some reason I used to try and ride with my eyes closed, now I know as a 29 year old man, what a stupid idea, try and ride a bike with no hands and eyes closed, talking to myself about promises of ice cream and pizza, but at that time and place it was all the grand master plan, how could it ever fail, even all after all the falls and crashes into the fence and once into a car, I would get up sometimes a little bruised and bloodied brush myself off and get back on, “Ok a little further and you’ll get ice cream and pizza”. I never did learn how to ride my bike with no hands.
Michelle and Jacko still invited me in to watch their weird vouger pot smoking sessions the insisted I observe, there friends ever now and then came over and participated in the smoking sessions, Alexis and April were never allowed to go near the kitchen and were usually sent to the spare room they slept in, this all kind of made me feel special in some way. It wasn’t long until it was that time, time to go back to Fowlers Road Koonawarra, Wollongong. Our bags were packed, we were ready to go, Dad rocked up with Mum in the front seat, we got our bags and out them into the boot, we all said goodbye to Michelle and Jacko who hugged us all. We got into the car, I pressed up against the window and waved at them, it was really sad to say goodbye, at that stage I thought this would be the last I ever see of them again, at that stage I didn’t know that I would start running away form home and run to their house when things eventually got tough. At that stage I thought the time that I finally felt special and liked was once and for all over, this was the first time I ever remember that I was around people who really respected me, listened to me and most of liked me. I guess as I have gotten older I cling to these things so much, that people don’t understand and mistake it for a crazy clingy Jamie, when all it is, is that I really cherish and value the importance of happiness, connection and kindness, even through all the inappropriateness they displayed.
When we got home we unpacked our bags, and me and my sisters went outside the backyard and played, we played and I forgot all about the bullshit and thinking, our neighbors came over and I think we played lemon wars or something like that, were you get a lemon from the lemon tree, being careful not to get hurt but the thorns and pelt a lemon as hard as you can at someone before they got you. Someone alway got hurt and then the game was over. But this was fun.
A new place a new routine, I remember one morning I was walking past the opposite neighbours house that had been emptied before we went to Michelle and Jacko’s now had a moving truck in the front of the house, I went up to the front door to see who moved, little sticky beak I was, and I saw a boy around my age in the lounge room playing with a model dinosaur, he looked up and saw me and smiled, I said “hello I live next door”, and walked in. We became friends straight away. His name was Pete, his mum came out of the kitchen and smiled as well, “Hi, who are you?” “I’m Jamie” I replied “I live next door”. “Oh well why don’t both you boys go play, I’ve got unpacking to do” said Pete’s Mum, her name I eventually found out was Bree.
Pete brought his dinosaur, I remember being jealous of this toy, it was the toy where every week you had to buy a magazine to get a new piece of the dinosaur and eventually you had to build the dinosaur, the bones glowed in the dark and the most impressive thing was that he had the skin as well. I asked Pete where he came from and he kind of avoided my question. Which I though was weird, little did I know that Pete had a little secret of his own, a secret I found out and my response to finding out to this day is one of my biggest regrets.
Monday school started, Pete came to class and I asked the teacher to see if her could sit next to me, Ms Wilson said sure, and next to me he sat, I helped him how to write the date in his book and all the stuff he needed to know, at recess I introduced him to my friends, I thought he was the coolest person ever and thought my friends would to, how wrong I was, for the first few days it was ok but after a week or so, I could tell they couldn’t stand him, and in fact I began to realize that he was a little bit odd, one thing that was a bit strange was that he had an english accent and he was born in Wollongong as did the rest of us and he had never been overseas, something that 11- 12 year old children just couldn’t grasp, so our friendship eventually became just at home.
My Mum was slowly getting used to her new disability, her left arm was completely not usable, she had to use a walking stick to walk around, her left leg had little mobility and she was get her speech back, Mum was going to physical rehab every day, the hospital came in a bus to take her, and every day she came home frustrated, she found the whole process really challenging, and remember hearing her cry from time to time, my Dad used to console her, he now was her sole carer, meaning he didn’t work and jsut looked after her. Nothing between me and him changed, I just knew to stay out of his way, which was easy as I now pretty much went next door and played with Pete or up and over the paddok and played with my friends. My parents became friends with Bree as well, I remember Bree smoking and one afternoon I saw Bree’s cigarette packet left near a chair in her backyard, I was playing with Pete at the time, a voice in my head told me to take one, Bree was at my parents house, Pete was busy, so I quietly opened the outside door, I slid it open, snuck outside, turned my head, my heart was pounding, I knew I was doing the wrong thing, but I put three cigarettes into my pocket, and went back inside.
The next day I saw Luke, the kid on the other side of our house, I showed him the smokes proudly, “Where did you get them from?” asked Luke with a grin on his face. “From Pete’s Mum”. We decided to go around the block and smoke them, we chained smoked the three smokes as quick as we could, round the block we walked talking about stupid stuff, until we got back home. I said goodbye to Luke and went into my house, my Mum, Dad and Bree were all sitting in the lounge room, I walked passed them to go to the bathroom to brush my teeth, Bree sniffed, looked at me and said “Jamie come here”. OH MY GOD!! My heart jumped into my throat, “why?” I asked my Dad said “Why? Because she said so get over to her now.” I walked over to her and her nose got as close to my mouth as you could get without touching. “Have you been smoking?” She asked. “Ummm.” Dad and Mum both looked at me. “Well?” Asked my Dad. “Ummmm” was all I could muster. “UMMMM” My Dad mimicked “Have you had a cigarette?” “Y-Y-Yes” “Go to you room and wait for me there” said my Dad quietly.
I scurried to my room, left my door ajar a little so I could listen, all three started talking, whispering, I could barely hear what they were saying, I remember hearing Bree say “No you don’t want to do that, wait here and I’ll be back I have a plan” The next thing I hear is the front door opening, in what felt like seconds, the front door opened again and Bree said “Come into the kitchen”, thinking back to this I remember this experience so well, I remember creeping just outside my door, to listen, I remember my Mum saying “This won’t hurt him will it?” I remember hearing my Dad say “He needs to learn a lesson” I remember Bree coaching them both on saying “You don’t want a son like my older boy”, Bree apparently had an older son, Pete’s older brother, who lived somewhere else, I never meet him or knew where he lived. But I remember knowing instinctually that they were doing something in the kitchen, then quite. I scurried back to my room, closed the door, jumped onto my bed. In came all three, Bree was holding a cigarette, she smiled at me and said “where did you get the cigarette from?” I told them the truth. The just stared at me, they must have known I was upset telling them the unravelling story about how I stole Bree’s smokes, how I went around the block smoking the smokes, but even to this day I remember them standing over me, me on my bed, and I still couldn’t read them at all. When I finished confessing, Bree said “Well you lesson is for you to smoke this cigarette” I looked at my Mum she looked away, I looked at my Dad and he just stared. They had done something to the cigarette, I didn’t know what, but something. There was no way I was going to go along with their plan. “Go on” Bree said again, I closed my lips as tight as I could and shook my head. My Dad took it from Bree and tried to ram it into my mouth, I closed my lips tighter, “Here” he yelled. But it was no use. SLAP, across the face, blood entered my mouth. They left the room, I looked at Mum she walked out with her walking stick, looked back and looked away. I just laid there on the bed, I did the wrong thing. They all went back into the lounge room, I could hear Bree telling them how I would turn into her older son and how they should be worried. I just laid there holding my pillow, holding my face.
Stealing those cigarettes was the worse thing I could have done, because my friendship with Pete was now over, meaning that if I wasn’t at my friends house or school, I was at home, which meant that I was around the man who know longer worked, the man who looked after my newly disabled mother, the man who never in my whole existence of living once told me he loved me. Things got tough, really tough. There were times when I tried so hard to stay out of my Dad’s way, I found the worst times was when Mum was at rehabilitation, one time my Dad snapped at me “What are you doing inside”, I don’t know why he was in a bad mood. I snapped back at him, I don’t know why I snapped back, you think I would have known better, I guess he was taken by my response, he stood up from the couch, walked up to me and said “what did you say” I said “Inside”, he pushed me. I couldn’t take it anymore, all these years of oppression over took me, all these years of being spoken to, hit, I pushed him, why of why, did I push him? He smiled, he pushed me again, I fell over, I stood up not to be defeated, pushed him again, “Oh really” he said, I was standing in the lounge room, he looked at me and said “You wanna play like this do you” He got both his hands, and what felt like all his force smiling pushed me, right into the wall, I didn’t just hit the wall I fell through it, he stood there, looking at me, repeat “ you wanna play like this?” I pulled myself from the newly made hole in the wall, he was just watching me, I looked at him and ran. Ran out the backdoor of the house, over the fence, cross the road, past the school, past the fish and chip shop down the bottom paddock and all the way to Michelle and Jacko’s, I knocked on their door, Jacko opened it up and looked shocked, he must have seen I was upset, He held my shoulder and in I went, this was the beginning of me running away from home, anytime that things were to much I just ran to Michelle and Jacko’s, I leant how to open my window, climb out, holding the ledge, and jump and run as fast as I could. Sometimes I would stay the night and come home the next day, in some ways my life in present life Jamie can still be like that, when things get tough, I run, run mentally (and physically) when things get tougher.
Little did I know that my Father knew where I was running to and the route which I went, after one particular time I went to Michelle and Jacko’s they said I couldn’t go there anymore because my Dad had gone to their house and told them that he didn’t give permission for me to be there and I wasn’t to go there, and that was it, my little piece of escapism was over, even though I was around drugs and swearing and people smoking and loads of other things, I knew that this was not a place I could go to anymore. I could no longer run away, I was back there.
What was I to do? By no mean’s was I a saint, no way am I going to say that I was this golden child of a kid, I do know where I am sitting now and with loads of experience of working with children and young people that I would never resort to the kind of affection and parenting my father showed me, but the funny thing is, is that he showed all love to my sisters, hugging them, saying nice things and everything you could imagine, I never understood it at all, I really didn’t. My Mum over time started being more mobile, she started talking more, and we all just got used to the way things were, this was our new mother, one who needed more care and support.
I feel that I have skipped over so much in this post, and writing all of this makes me appreciate how much went into 1992/1993, the year of kriss kross, the year of prince’s cream, things were tough, I was jaded, my mother was very different, my father was back and the neighbor Bree was something of a monster, the coming months up to October of 1993 was approaching, and this was would be my final years of living with my family and I would enter the final months of the new chapter of foster parents and court trials….
If only I knew know would I still take that $3.00?
If only I knew that $3.00 would be the cause of that faithful day