Link here to my piece that appeared in last Sunday’s Business Post on Survival Day, the Aboriginal celebration that takes place when the rest of Oz is celebrating the joys of white colonialism.
Top quote, from Aboriginal muso Kev Carmody, on the fact that Aboriginals were only included in the census, and brought under the protection of the laws that affected humans, after 1967:
‘‘Until I was 21, I was flora and fauna,” says Carmody, whose human existence was only recorded after he reached the age of majority.
‘‘We were claimed as flora and fauna under the federal constitution. I’m not a refugee, not an immigrant, not a displaced person or an asylum-seeker,” he says, but points out he had no human legal status.
‘‘They could do what they wanted to us, shoot us like dingos. My uncle was shot dead in 1949 – a bullet went into his back. On the death cert it said ‘death by misadventure’.”
I had never seen this photo here before my mother died. It’s of her, aged about 21 (I assume), clutching a champagne bottle, with a glass on her head and obviously, from her facial expression, a fairly high blood/alcohol level. I found it as I sorted through her things in the house, tucked into an old briefcase she had kept since the 70s. I keep it in my wallet now.
This image of Mum is the best way to remember her. When myself and my sister were teenagers, the front door of our house was always open to every one of our mates, and parties were encouraged. Mum would often be the last up, drinking and chatting with our mates until the wee hours. It was fairly special, and we realised we had it pretty lucky.
Everything changed when she was diagnosed with MS. A substantial personality overhaul can be fairly common with MS, I found out later. Mum got less rational, more emotional and withdrawn, and then began the slide into physical deterioration. For someone so active, so alive, it was gut-wrenching to watch the person she was disappear. No more golf, tennis, sailing. We had to take the car away from her, and she went from using a stroller to needing a wheelchair. She could see it too, and the frustration of it drove her deeper into depression, and the spiral of decline steepened.
Mum spent the last year of her life, unable to walk and barely able to mumble a word or control her limbs, in a nursing home in Stillorgan. At 49, she was the youngest person in there by close to 20 years. Continue reading “Doing the Marathon for Mum and MS”