EPISODE 17: FREE FALLING, SEPTUAGENARIAN STYLE

 

All boarded up - living in a squat

All boarded up – like living in a squat

A surprise love-fest and a storm-affected bedroom

This blog is rambling along into its second full year, having been started in late 2013. Thanks, dear reader, for hanging in there. I had a surprise note from WordPress recently, informing me that I had experienced a statistical phenomenon on 14 February this year. My blog stats don’t really interest me – usually I get 10 hits, then 3, then none, then 7 whatever.  But suddenly I was galvanised by what is called a ‘spike in the stats’.  Inexplicably, 42 unknown people logged in and read my blog on Valentines Day. Was this some kind of weird love-fest? According to WordPress, my stats are ‘booming’.  Wonders will never cease. However, things have calmed down considerably since the mysteriously spiked love-in day.

Distracted momentarily by the stats phenomenon, I have been feeling a certain kind of cabin fever since the freak hail storm in Brisbane in November 2014. The windows were smashed, and it was pretty scary witnessing shards of glass and huge hailstones hurtling towards me. As I inhabit a national heritage, art deco building, the arrangements for replacing the lead light glass have been quite problematic, and this will take at least another 5 months to fix.

In about 5 weeks, however, the boarded-up windows will finally disappear and be replaced by ordinary glass windows until the beautiful historic windows are fixed throughout the building. At least we will have some light and air again. Thanks to those dear friends who have offered me cool places to stay during this post-storm saga. Your warm generous hospitality has been most welcome.

Leafy vista in my idyllic  Burleigh refuge.

Leafy vista in my idyllic Burleigh refuge.

Turning seventy: what does it all mean?

As some of my readers would know, I am tentatively on the cusp of becoming a septuagenarian, after a decade of being a proud sexagenarian, which was a much more exciting and raunchy-sounding decade. I particularly enjoyed being 69…

On the other hand, the word ‘septuagenarian’ sounds like a kind of disease, involving septicaemia or something equally horrible. Septuagenarian – it will take me a while to get my head around this and become used to entering this formidable decade. But when I think of all the great women who are about my age, I feel a lot brighter and stronger…

For instance, Helen Mirren, Charlotte Rampling, Susan Sarandon, Joan Baez, Hillary Clinton, Deborah Harry, Patti Smith, Diane Keaton, Bette Midler are all heading there very soon, or else are already in their seventies.  Really, it is no-holds-barred for me in that illustrious company, although I don’t think becoming the next Prime Minister is in the grand plan. Sorry Hillary, we could have hung out together on the world stage.

Of course, there are also all my old school mates entering this decade as well. They may not be famous in the same way as the women  listed above are. Nevertheless, they have been very special to me and pretty wonderful to go through life with. I went to all-girls’ secondary schools,  although I still keep up with my mixed class primary school mates as well. The annual Yeronga primary school reunion will be an interesting one this year, marking yet another decade still alive together.

Some Primary School mates

Some Primary School mates

Turning seventy gives pause for thought and reflections over the life lived thus far…My parents died at 74 so that is a fairly bleak thought! But I am trucking along ok, with, like many others, a few dramatic stumbles along the way.

I had a ‘wakeup call’ recently when I fell over a nasty sandbag carelessly left by the Council in the gutter at the end of the street. Falling at my age is always pretty scary, until you find out in Emergency that no bones are broken and that the wounds will mend eventually. One ankle and the other knee all suffered injuries and my face had much bruising and swelling, along with several wounds, including one that had to have stitches. Thanks to the special sweet blokes who helped me on the night, one a dear friend and the other a ‘good samaritan’ stranger.

After several weeks of physio, I finally am driving again, and my face doesn’t look like the train wreck it was. I was scaring people, for instance, on election day as I limped along with my cane, looking like the walking dead. I also realised that climbing up and down 39 steps each day here at home is looming as yet another safety issue to solve in the future.

The offending gutter

The offending gutter and sandbag

A further impact of this fall was underlined for me when the doctor cheerfully proclaimed, as she stitched up my face, “You might need some plastic surgery after this”, not realising what buttons she was pressing.  Even so, she must have noticed the deep scarring I already have on the right side of my face, damage which occurred when I was a passenger in a near-fatal car accident at the tender age of 18.

An accidental miracle

I know I am being a bit silly and over-sensitive, after all this time, but it is not at all surprising, I guess, that this comment did unwittingly trigger some pretty horrific recollections, sensitivities and anxieties for me. For years, I had mercy amnesia about the 1963 accident itself, although I recall only too well being on the critical list for days afterwards in intensive care.

The young woman sobbing in the bed next to me had been accidentally shot in the back by her farmer husband, and was going to be crippled for life. I was luckier than her, as my broken bones and other injuries healed pretty well over the next two years, before I could get back to Uni again. I was declared brain damaged, as well as with permanent facial damage at the time, and after the court case, I was mortified when the daily paper screamed this in the headlines. At the time, I was teaching English and Ancient History at St Peter’s College, trying to be a respectable, functioning person. My ex-husband and I went on a world trip almost immediately for the whole of the following year.

I am of course one of the lucky ones really, having been saved that dark night by sheer happenstance. At the accident scene, the clumsy ambos left me lying on the side of the road, while they attended to the driver, my then boyfriend, Jimmy. It is amazing that, sometime later, I heard that medico friends of my brother-in-law had very luckily turned up at the accident scene on Coronation Drive, and managed to convince the skeptical ambos that they, who were dressed up as sailors for a costume party that Friday night, were actually trained doctors. On examining both me and Jimmy, they urged that he was fine, and that I was about 20 minutes from death.

A close call then. My next direct brush with the Grim Reaper was in September 2012, when I was about 10 hours from boarding a plane to Vienna for a conference. According to the cardiologist who examined me that day, if I boarded that plane, I would die. Maybe I won’t be ‘third time lucky’ in this tricky Bergmanesque-chess game with the grim one, though who knows? I may have 9 lives!

I will finish this on an ‘up’ note, for me at least. Even though I was pretty sore and sorry on election day, the results were very pleasing indeed. The highlight of the night is pictured below, and it has only gone up from here…Woman Premier of Polish descent and woman Deputy Premier of Lebanese descent, and more women than men in cabinet. What an extraordinary triumph. Becoming a septuagenarian in this particularly optimistic Queensland political climate is truly very heartening. We just have to sort it out Federally now. Go Tanya and Penny!

One super highlight on election night

One super highlight on election night

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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