Chapter 3

Having left work, I found that back problems I had had all my life were much reduced and I began to think there was a way to reduce the pain, so began to go to a Chiropractor on a regular basis. Avoiding those things that stressed my back, (bending over children's desks to see their work), making pillows for lumbar support for use in my chair and bed, I found it was much better. Vacuuming and gardening were still a problem, so I did only a few minutes at a time and interspersed it with other jobs. Ian got tired of seeing the vacuum cleaner waiting for me to finish and he often did it himself and eventually included the cobwebs and odd corners.

We went several times to Wollongong Hospital for blood tests and to see the haematologist who said he thought there were indications of possible indolent Multiple Myeloma (bone marrow cancer) and would monitor him regularly, but believed that Ian's lungs were the main problem. He did a bone marrow test which was often quite painful as the doctor drilled into the sternum or spine. It was more conclusive than a blood test to diagnose earlier bone cancer signs. So far there was no cancer. We stayed each time at Sean's place. Karen knew he was having blood tests, Sean later said he knew nothing about it, except that Ian went sometimes to the Chest Clinic.
We tried to find a dance in the Shoalhaven, but found nothing as good as the Germania Club and still went back there from time to time.

Ian concentrated on the vege garden and fruit trees, I did the remainder. The vegies had to be fenced against the wallabies, eventually had to be enclosed entirely to protect them from the birds. We were able to grow food with fewer and fewer pollutants as we learnt about alternatives.

In setting out the new garden I used "no dig" methods, enriching the soil with humus and mulching with what I could find. I realised I needed more information about what plants would bring the birds. I became involved first with the Australian Plants Society which maintained a native garden at the "Lady Denman" museum. I learnt about propagation, went on walks and bus trips. At first Ian said he was not interested in joining clubs but came to a BBQ at the museum with APS, where we met John and Vera Hatton. We soon became involved with both groups. I became a volunteer at the museum and went every Tuesday to work on the archives, learning what goes on behind the scenes. A whole new world was opening up. Ian began to do small maintenance jobs at the museum, moving on to do more and more until we were both there most Tuesdays. One day Ian teased some verbose volunteers who had been talking non-stop "Who won?"

We were delighted at the number of bird species and I had to learn a lot of names. The welcome of the bower birds soon wore off as they came in large numbers and wrecked the garden until it was fully fenced and roofed over. They built bowers in the front garden.

We also undertook to do a bird count in our area for a bird atlas. This involved walking around, watching, listening and recording. Ian commented that several "rusty gates" were flying over (gang-gang cockatoos). There were also many skinks, a few blue-tongues and frogs. We got to know our little bit of the world and also went to a few bird watching courses which introduced us to local areas and people and gave us a lot of insight into bird counts. Ian's knowledge of bird behaviour was much greater than mine but his eyesight was deteriorating.

David let me have an old computer he was not using. I put a lot of my mother's family history on it but the mother board broke down and I lost everything. Luckily I had a printout. Jacqueline helped me find another second-hand one. Later David met Emiko at table tennis. She worked in an opal shop, selling opals to tourists, often Japanese. They wanted to marry as soon as possible. My three children and two partners were at Tomerong for Christmas. Emiko, born in Japan was very tiny, he was tall. On her first visit the leeches discovered her and she leapt into David's arms. As her protector he was less reticent than he had been.

familyJacqueline, David, Emiko, Peter, Dagmar

Jan 18 Sean's kids came down today.

Norna and Alison also came down and stayed for a while, as Norna knew quite a few people in the area. One day we all walked across to the Post Office to collect our mail, which took about half an hour going cross country and which they did not find interesting. In my mail was a receipt for a donation I had made to a charity or environmental group to which I donated regularly. I showed this to Norna and said "That's your Christmas present gone to a good cause instead of buying you something you don't want."

As I still kept contact with my first husband's family in Germany, I decided to do a German course so as to keep it fresh. Ian came with me to be company coming home, the teacher encouraged him to take part and he soon joined officially. We soon became friends with the teacher and his wife.

kidsKylie, Alison and Glen

In March I was elected assistant secretary of APS and was immediately informed that the secretary was going away for two months so I would be it! The minutes and newsletter could be typed by the Neighbourhood Centre. Ian helped me put the newsletters in the envelopes which I had addressed. He was soon involved in the garden they maintained at the museum. In April we had an enormous crop of self-sewn pumpkins so I took the biggest to be raffled at APS.

Sean told us that his house repayments would increase greatly from now on, as arranged in the original contract, and that he had also had to borrow for the deposit. We heard later that they had sold the house because he had lost his job at Tip Top Bakery. They took most of their furniture and moved to Tasmania where property was cheaper and Karen had some family members.

A year after Peter and Dagmar had married Bantu was born on 4th July. A couple of days later I went to Mount Victoria to visit them but did not set eyes on the baby for another couple of days until he was about a week old. Dagmar was extreme about pure water as well as everything else. Either Peter or Dagmar was always with him in the bedroom even when he was asleep. I agreed that his life experiences had begun but could not see that contact with the extended family was unnatural. In primitive society it would have included many members of the tribe. In spite of the freezing weather in the mountains Jacqueline came up on her motor bike. Having waited hours she was about to leave, much later than she had intended, when Peter brought the baby out for her to see, but Dagmar immediately came and took him back to the bedroom. It was apparent she set the agenda. This was probably the first time in Peter's life that he was in a situation he could not cope with. He found it easier to acquiesce. I knitted a couple of outfits from a pattern book they supplied as they did not like a lot of popular styles. It was in German but I succeeded in working it out.

I am getting too old for high work off a plank.
July 10 At doctors in W/gong.

Jacqueline, working in the Tourism industry, arranged an excellent coach camping trip for us in August, flying to Mackay, driving to Cairns, touring to Cooktown, flying to Darwin. There we picked up the six-wheel drive coach and began the camping trip through Kakadu, Alice Springs, King's Canyon and Uluru. Then we caught the Ghan to Adelaide, gaining a lot of insight into the country we lived in and arriving for Meg's 90th birthday. Meg was still hale and hearty, but died suddenly and peacefully soon after. Unfortunately Ian caught a bug in Alice Springs and was ill, and there was a pilot strike!! Back to Sydney in a Hercules!! Uncomfortable!!

Back home Ian stayed in bed for a day or two, then we went to the haematologist who sent him to Wollongong hospital for tests, although by now he was much better. Norna and Alison were also here, visiting friends. I rang Sean to say Ian was having precautionary tests and would ring in couple of days. Sean flew up from Tasmania in spite of the strike! When he arrived at the hospital, Ian said "What are you doing here?" We were amazed. Sean stayed with us for a week as he could not get a flight home. He had told Karen that Ian was in hospital with cancer.

Inspired by some ideas from tourism, Jacqueline asked us for a loan to have flying lessons. After some instruction she was very enthused about it. She met Tony who wanted to fly jets and needed to go to UK to do so.

Thurs Sep 1 Had to go to Nowra to see Haematologist and got bone marrow sample taken. My ESR is down all of a sudden and the cholesterol is normal.

In October Dagmar's parents came to Australia to see the new baby and they paid us a visit for a few days. We became good friends and they invited us to visit them in Germany. They seemed to be so different from Dagmar. During the year the Berlin Wall had come down and we had gone to a function at the Germania Club to celebrate the event.

In January we climbed Pigeon House Mountain (which I had climbed 40 years ago) with Rod and Bill who were holidaying with us. Clare stayed in the car and knitted, in company with a number of goannas in the parking area. This was a big effort for Ian but the views were most rewarding.

I took Dad back to Mudgee after a visit and called in at Mount Victoria. Bantu was trying to walk, able to reach the knobs on the gas stove. Dagmar began to rouse and Peter picked him and removed him from the danger but Dagmar roused on Peter and said he should have spoken to Bantu in the same tone and in the same words she had used, rather than remove him.

I was notified that perhaps we were eligible for a pension supplement and when I enquired further found that Ian could be eligible for a part invalid pension. He had a medical examination in Wollongong and in April we began to get benefits and a small pension. (When Ian turned 65 in 1992 it was transferred to an age pension.)

kidsEmiko, Ian and Dorothy

Peter was invited to go to K2 the second highest mountain in the world as expedition doctor in June. It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Dagmar very much opposed the idea and did not come to the airport to see him off. The wife of the leader said she had had to come to terms with several trips her husband had been on. But she would not try to manipulate him or stand in his way. I tried to keep in touch with Dagmar but she rebuffed me. She rang Jacqueline for the first time ever and told her she was pregnant again and was moving. I rang and asked unsuccessfully for her new address. She rang Jacqueline and said why did she have to go blabbing to me. Jacqueline said "If you don't want Mum to know, then don't tell me." I think they never spoke again.

Greg Watson and the so-called "Silent Majority" stirred me to write some letters to the paper, most of which were published. While Peter was away Dagmar had moved to Bellingen and sent all his things to us via an unsuspecting friend with a van. They appeared to have been thrown angrily into boxes and some were damaged. There were letters which should have been answered as well as frequent correspondence from Peter to her and a strange letter from her to me. On his return in October from K2 Peter went to Bellingen, having some clue how to find her. They were reconciled and he set up a clinic in Bellingen.

Tony and Jacqueline went to England where she got pregnant but the relationship went sour and she came home to have the baby. Both Emiko and Dagmar were pregnant soon after. Jacqueline's ultrasound indicated she was having a girl. She asked us to look for an old-fashioned rocking cradle. We found a beautiful second-hand one which Ian then did up for the baby.


She was living in Wollongong sharing with a house mate and was introduced to the world of computers. Jacqueline and Norna had become friends, both now living in Wollongong. Ian and I went up to visit her early in December and said "See you in a week" as we left. A phone call at 6 am next morning said "Hello Grandpa". Although she had no indication of labour while we were visiting, the onset of the birth came that evening and her house mate had gone with her to hospital, the baby was born within an hour. We went back to Wollongong to meet my first granddaughter and were fully involved from that moment on.

grandpaThe beginning of a life long love affair

David and Emiko were married by a celebrant in December attended by Ian and I, Jacqueline and baby Jordan.

Jacqueline and Ian were getting very pally and on one occasion I felt they had ganged up against me, perhaps oblivious of how upset I was. We had been to visit her in Wollongong and stayed overnight on airbeds. Mine had lost all its air and I had had no sleep and was needled about my choice of breakfast and finally was asked "What are you so cranky about?" without any concern for my feelings. I did not expect any special consideration but also did not expect to be provoked! I felt under siege. We all learnt something about forbearance.

In December Ian and I went again to Tasmania, Ian to do alterations to Sean's house at Irishtown, we did some sight-seeing in between. We also attended "open day" at the school, otherwise Glen and Kylie did not have anyone at the various functions at the school. For Glen playtime was the only tolerable part of school, he was never able to "catch up" in the classroom. His homework was unsupervised as his parents said they only fought about it. Kylie had coped much better.

Sean showed us a letter which I thought at first glance was simply a hoax, ostensibly from the Adoption Authorities about locating his birth mother. The letterhead looked photocopied and the wording did not sound authentic. It was certainly not a professional letter.

Karen asked about Ian's cancer and we were able to assure her there was no active cancer.

tomerongIan planting a Red Cedar for Jordan

Norna and Alison usually come down in January for a while and visited friends she had in the district. Ian asked them not to use chemicals such as deodorants, hair sprays and perfumes, also not to waste water in the shower because of the septic tank. Norna seemed quite oblivious that both requests were disregarded. She continued to use sprays etc. Norna washed her hair and sprayed the whole shower recess, next day she asked me for a shower cap as the one on the shelf was wet! Extravagant and irresponsible waste of water! She was aware of the problem because she told us she had severely upset her mother, remarried and living in the north of the state with only tank water and a lot of animals. Norna and Alison had emptied the tank forcing them to buy water which was not appreciated.

Kathy, a very big baby was born in January by Caesarean section after a difficult pregnancy and long labour. After a few days David and Emiko were admitted to a clinic to establish breast-feeding. Emiko tried but after persevering for some time gave up. We visited soon afterwards with Jacqueline and Jordan.

grandpaDorothy, Emiko, Kathy and Ian

In February Dagmar had Kailas. Peter sent us photos. He was a devoted father to both boys.

In March Ian had an operation on one hand for Dupuytron's Contraction in Nowra Community Hospital. Ian's hands had been getting progressively more difficult to close, he was unable to grip an object or hold a bundle of nails. The operation was only partly successful.

Sean came up from Tasmania to stay with Norna for a few days, ostensibly to meet his birth mother. One day we happened to be there when he came home from town. He said his mother did not come and the letter he had received stating the proposed meeting site had "blown away".

There was a family gathering at Bronte Beach including Bill, Clare, Rod, Anna, Margaret, Norna, Alison, us, David, Emiko, Jacqueline and two babies. Most of us except Norna and Alison stayed out of the sun around the middle of the day.

grandpaBack: Bill, Anna, Rod, Margaret, Clare
Front: Dorothy, David, Kathy, Jacqueline, Jordan, Norna, Alison

As Alison showed an interest in music we bought her a guitar and guitar lessons for her birthday. She worked hard and progressed well, so we said we would get her a music stand if she continued her interest.

We went with the Plant Society on a bus trip to Burrendong Arboretum near Wellington. This was the first of many good trips with the group. In November we went to New Zealand for a month and had another wonderful trip, staying with friends and relations and in cabins. Ian was quickly able to identify the local birds, many only found in New Zealand. Seeing Milford Sound had been an ambition of mine for forty years. It fully lived up to expectation.


At the tip we saw a rocker which needed some repair and painting. Ian did it up for Jordan's birthday and we got a "Jordan" number plate. She was delighted.

At the end of the year I found myself driving Jacqueline, David, Emiko with two newborn babies, to visit their biological father, the first time for about 20 years. I waited in the car but later was persuaded to come into the house and meet his Filipino wife and their son. I wondered how he had presented himself to her, whether he had told her the kind of fiction he had told me. How had she dealt with the inevitable lack of trust? He expressed astonishment at having seen Peter in "hippy" clothes. Jacqueline decided she didn't want to see him again. David saw him a few times to help with a computer, but soon began to make excuses.

David had been able to learn computing at OTC and had concentrated on that aspect of his training. When he was made redundant he got contracts in the computing field and did very well.

Norna suggested that Jacqueline should teach Jordan some table manners! Alison had disgusting manners and Jordan was a year old! When Alison and Jordan were both here Alison excited Jordan to the point of hysteria and her mother did not check her.

To supplement her income Jacqueline began to board overseas students in the house she was renting. Mostly it was a positive experience with lots of interesting people coming and going. She had always worked in some way.

Jacqueline learnt of a temporary job in Consumer Affairs, but wanted to be at home with her daughter, so told Norna who began work there (and stayed for ten years,) earning steady money for the first time. The job was made permanent but Norna was never promoted.

Ian was having regular blood tests to monitor his health. I asked what signs to watch for on our next overseas trip. In May we attended Roderick's marriage to Anna. I wore the kilt which Ian had bought for Norna many years before and felt it was absolutely appropriate. My family was all proud of its Scottish heritage.


We then flew to Scotland, mainly staying at Ian's birthplace, went by boat to Europe, visited Dagmar's parents in the north of Germany and had an enjoyable time with them, then went by train to Amsterdam to pick up a hired Campervan, revisited some of our favourite places. By now Ian was happy to let me do most of the driving while he navigated. Although the insurance was supposed to include a Collision Waiver Clause, when Ian put a scratch down one side in France, we lost our deposit. We again visited the Black Forest and of course Lauterbrunnen.

I expressed dismay that the folk history of Ian's village was not recorded. We renewed acquaintance with the folks who were still alive. Later we learnt that a historic society was being set up in his village so Ian began to jot down some of his memories and over the next few years I typed them up and sent them to the newsletter. We flew to Shetland and Orkney and travelled by bus/B&B, finally to Ireland before coming home after four months. Another rewarding trip. By now we had ironed out any problems with driving and map-reading as I mostly drove and he navigated. I did the cooking and washing and he cleaned the van. There were never any problems about selecting destinations, as we mainly liked the same things. Some of the best were serendipitous "discoveries".

Norna thought she could borrow our car which we had left in Paddy's keeping. While we were overseas Norna and Jacqueline had a falling out. They had little in common. Norna did not read, put a lot of emphasis on appearances, peer group pressure and the latest fads in fashion.

Although Rick was living with someone, he began to ask out girls in Wollongong including Norna. Jacqueline asked Norna and Alison to Jordan's second birthday party but did not specifically include Rick on the invitation. Norna had told us they were not a couple, but Norna was angry about the omission and took it as a deliberate slight. She seemed to resent Ian's closeness to Jacqueline which was increasing as time went on. Ian was not going to be included in Norna's changed attitude to Jacqueline who shared Ian's taste in reading, and often swapped books and shared their thoughts. They spent hours together wandering around hardware stores and bookshops and Ian enjoyed her company and respected her. She had goals and set out to achieve them. She was resourceful and independent.

Ian knew of few genetic relatives still alive in Australia, but he and Jacqueline shared common interests and concerns and a spiritual affinity. They had developed a strong, reciprocal understanding. He said Norna had changed and he dated it from the time she started work and had money to spend. But Norna's rift with Jacqueline widened to include me when it suited.

Jordan was a completely well-adjusted child who happily entertained herself on visits. Jacqueline made most of her clothes, I contributed knitted articles. Ian made and renovated toys for her which she appreciated. She had adequate toys but was not inundated with material goods. A sand heap was appreciated. Jacqueline was a devoted mother, Jordan's interests always came first.

Alison started High School. Norna and Rick were going to Surfer's Paradise and Norna asked us to stay with Alison. Ian requested that she have no sprays around the house but when we arrived the house was heavy with chemicals. Ian was wheezy the whole time we were there.

kidsDorothy's 60th birthday

Jacqueline organised a party for my 60th birthday, inviting friends and relatives to a BBQ. Norna and Alison called in briefly not dressed for a BBQ. There had never been much interaction between Ian's children and my family although they were always invited to any function. For a while Sean and David had a common interest in computers and David even lent his to Sean. But that had faded quickly and now Jacqueline and Norna avoided each other.

After 13 years at OTC, David was made redundant when it was reorganised, so he set up his own computer contract business. Emiko had a miscarriage and David decided to have a vasectomy. They had never owned a car, living handy to a bus stop and had learned to get anywhere quickly by public transport. He and Emiko had saved for a home unit in Bronte and I helped them move in.

Dagmar's parents financed the building of a house in Bellingen which was in an estate of large blocks with native plantings and pleasantly winding streets. The house design included a flat at one end with separate shower and toilet which could be used as a clinic. Her father was prepared to finance a veranda to be added for a water tank.
When next they came to Australia for a few months they stayed in the "clinic" and with us for a week or so. Dagmar upset her father by asking for the cheque for the veranda when they arrived at Mascot and was very cool to them until the last day of their visit. She announced to them and Peter that she had been seeing someone else. That was the end of any attempt at dialogue. Peter left immediately. He collected the boys regularly for an access visit while Dagmar worked at the Clinic. We went to Mascot to see her parents off and they were very upset at the situation and they said they would not come back to Australia. Peter tried to get full custody of the boys.

In May Peter met Jo-Ann, living in Bellingen with her two sons and they quickly developed a friendship. One night when Peter took his boys home Dagmar persuaded him to stay and soon after she said she was pregnant but the baby was not his.

Ian's bone marrow still showed the profile of multiple myeloma but it was still indolent.
We took Alison to "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat" for her birthday, staying overnight with Margaret. We all enjoyed a wonderful show.

At a Sydney hospital Ian had the operation for Dupuytron's Contraction on the other hand under a block anaesthetic on his arm. His ability to close his hand was not greatly improved.

Before the end of the year Dagmar said the baby she was expecting was Peter's and he should give her $900 to pay the midwife for the confinement. The midwife did not accept this much, saying that she had only come in at the end of the confinement after her return from overseas. Dagmar was angry that Peter had gone straight to the midwife instead of giving her the $900. In mid December she had Zuni. She went to great lengths to stop Peter or us from getting near him. Peter was determined to be a devoted father to all three boys.

In March Ian wrote about his wishes additional to his will, that his tools be shared by Chris, Paddy and Sean, unless any of the grandchildren took up carpentry.

There was a proposal to relocate the Armaments Depot from Sydney to Jervis Bay. We attended meetings to learn the facts and took part in protest gatherings to help demonstrate that it was a major concern to many people that parts of the Bay would be destroyed. I wrote letters to the appropriate people. We agreed "Think globally, act locally." Eventually Jervis Bay National Park was created and our beautiful part of the world saved from indiscriminate development and "progress".

At Christmas Norna gave Ian a pair of books, similar to ones we already had, even though we had agreed, for many years prior, not to exchange Christmas presents with the adults as we didn't want to be part of the commercialisation of Christmas. She was annoyed and accused her father of being ungrateful. I reminded her that Ian had bought her a beautiful and expensive kilt and frilly white blouse in 1981 on return from his holiday in Scotland, but she had never worn it. It was obviously the wrong gift. I tried to explain in more detail what Ian meant by "commercial crap", but she chose to interpret it as meaning she hadn't chosen something suitable.

A month later Norna gave Ian a CD for his birthday with a letter about him being "the arbiter of good taste". No mention of my birthday three days before.

We had given up trying to explain that everybody's life has an impact on the environment and no-one has the right to pretend they can do what they like and it doesn't hurt anyone. It does!

In May we went to Newcastle to Margaret's birthday party. While Ian was doing jobs for her I went to Bellingen and back by train to visit Peter and Jo-Ann then we went to Bronte to air the flat for David, Emiko and Kathy, returning from Japan after a visit to Emiko's family.

familyJordan and Kathy

We took Alison to "Chorus Line" for her birthday, (not as good as "Joseph"). Ian had a few illnesses for which he had an antibiotic and physiotherapy each time, perhaps from air freshener in a cabin in May, then a cold from Alison while we were staying with her while Norna was away.

In September Norna pressured Ian to go up to Wollongong for a Father's Day lunch. She said I should drive him up and spend the day with Jacqueline, even though we were seeing Jacqueline the weekends before and after. I didn't want to go three weekends in a row. Norna would not take Ian out on one of those days and cancelled the lunch the evening before he was to go up by train!

I heard via someone who worked in the same office as Norna that she said she was prevented from seeing her dad and planned to put the hard word on him for a fridge. This did not surprise me. Norna waited until she saw Ian alone in October to start asking for a fridge, saying she wanted it for Christmas and that all the other children had got something and she should too. (Her assertion was not true about all the other children). Ian said he would ask me as most of our income was my superannuation. Finally after several persistent phone calls he sent her a cheque for a deposit so that she would leave him alone, $500 and was very angry at her continual demands. I had given up trying to explain or elaborate his feelings. Her wastefulness and ostentatious spending are as repulsive to us as putting a rump steak on the plate of a vegetarian.

Peter, Jo-Ann, Bantu and Kailas, Jacqueline and Jordan were visiting and came with us to the museum. The children were all completely fascinated and stood at the first display waiting for an explanation which I was happy to give. It was necessary to adapt the normal tour to suit pre-schoolers.

Peter and Jo-Ann, whom we like very much, decided to marry and we had a family engagement party. In November Simba was born and everyone seemed very happy.

familyGlen, Karen, Sean and Kylie

Sean and his family came back from Tasmania about this time and went to live in Bega where Karen's mother was living with her new husband. We offered to take Glen and Kylie to see "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat" but they felt such a thing was for "stuck up" people. Glen seemed lacking in confidence. He told us he had been asked to push a wheelchair for a disabled person in a Bega parade. He seemed pleased to be asked but could not bring himself to do it as people would look at him. He said he was unhappy at school and we thought very depressed. Even Norna commented on his lack of self-esteem. He had been brought up under the belief that good children are obedient and had not overcome the idea that he should not assert himself as most teenagers do.

Norna and Alison came down as usual in the New Year. The argument over the remainder of the money for the fridge continued the whole time as Norna did not feel she should be left to pay it off. Alison sat on the lounge looking bored and surly, Ian shouted at Norna that he didn't owe her a thing. I had not seen him so angry for 15 years since he had to pay for Sean's debt on his car. The next day before leaving Alison wrote a rude letter on my computer.
And so on...

Ian wrote and told her it had upset him that she was so rude to me but he heard nothing from her. There was virtually no contact for more than a year. Instead of trying to find a suitable present to give Alison, Ian decided to open a bank account for her and add to it every birthday and Christmas.


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