The Story Continues...
Here is part II of The Most Wanted Child in the Wimmera...
A year later a son was born. And as is the fate of all eldest farm sons, he was both the apple of his father’s eye, and the first in line to receive his explosive wrath... But in those days it was just the way things were.
One chilly winter afternoon Dot whisked her young son from the outside bath, into the kitchen and placed him in front of the fire. She laughed with a mother’s delight when she said, “Oh, darling you still have dirt under your arms,” and he responded with, “I thought they were wissocks Mummy.”
Life on the farm was busy. As two more healthy baby boys were born, Dot’s notions of a career as a nurse didn’t extend beyond nursing babies and piles of washing… Cooking, cleaning, ironing, mending, darning, knitting, cleaning, loving.
Dot was heavily pregnant with baby number five when she collapsed, started haemorrhaging and passed out under a Jacaranda tree in the garden.
When, after a few days she awoke in hospital, amongst the fog of semi-consciousness she was informed that the baby, a girl, had died, and been buried in the family plot. Dot was told to get on with life and not speak of it. The children were never given an explanation.
Who knows for sure, as this was seldom spoken of, but it’s no doubt acceptable to imagine a period of depression about now. A feeling of drowning in a sea of responsibilities, children to love and feed, a husband to serve and appearances to uphold. No doubt it was a time of little light.
But Dot was the most wanted child in the Wimmera.
She was programmed for growth. Life continued and a few years later her youngest son was born, once again filling her arms and her heart.
To all who knew her, Dot was the most welcoming, warm, loving and real person you’d ever be likely to meet. The type who would stand and wave you goodbye until she couldn't see you anymore. The sort who would drop everything, put on the kettle and make you feel heard. The type who'd always find a cheery side in everything, but wasn't against uttering the odd 'bugger' or 'bloody' for effect.
At this stop along the road of Dot's life I could expand into a novel to tell you all that I knew about her, and stories of what came before my time... Probably even a trilogy. And it would be heart-warming, relatable, engrossing and decidedly human, because that was Dot. But this little ditty wants to be about death. And why?
Because just like everything else, we're born, we grow, we shade, we shed, we die... And that's just the way the story goes.
Dot's husband lived a bold life on his terms, up until his swift demise from liver cancer well into his 80s.
On his deathbed they both admitted with something close to love that they’d wanted to get out the shotgun at times, but could never have left each other. It’s hard to say whether it was pure sadness Dot felt when he died. More likely a mixture of grief, relief, shock and the strange, unexpected nothingness left by the cessation of responsibilities, that whilst seemingly arduous, gives life meaning.
In the years after his death, Dot’s eyesight declined rapidly, along with her independence and joie de vie. She became reflective. She wondered how life might have been different had she taken another branch. What if she’d become a nurse? What if she’d had the opportunity to travel more? Had she made the right choices? Had she lived a life that mattered?
The branch she did take was as the beloved matriarch of a family. Five children, 10 grandchildren, five great grandchildren (plus another currently in incubation), and friends far and wide; were the seedlings growing in the light she left when in the end she said she was buggered, and her life that grew, stretched, branched and blossomed in exactly the way it was meant to, stopped with her heart while she slept.
And perhaps, at the time of her passing, Dot was in the middle of a dream; sitting under a Jacaranda tree, cradling her newborn baby girl, who was no doubt a most wanted child herself.
>>> Leonie Orton is a writer, editor and marketing communications consultant. She'll create communication mediums in the shape of words, graphics and webs for your business, connecting you with the people who need you. Get in touch by email, facebook or twitter. And if you're not already signed up for new writings and special offers, get hooked up here.