And so we turn to the ninth and last child in the good nest of ratlets, Trish, sister of Pete 8/365.
A few weeks ago, she became the inspiration for this blog. It wasn’t her all-Australian curly blonde hair that inspired me, or her beach-ready bikini body, it wasn’t her charm, her empathetic nature, her legendary mother, her hero father or her gorgeous, gravelly voiced adoring partner, no.
It was the fact that recently I called her instead of texting her and she panicked as she answered the phone and said ‘is everything alright?’
We both found that a bit, as Pete would say, ‘unusual.’
‘No one phones anyone anymore, do they?’ I had said.
‘Not unless they want to sell you something or give you bad news’ she replied.
Tonight she is waiting for my call. It is me, it was only ever going to be me, no one ever phones her on her home phone.
‘Annabel’ she says, and the gabbling on begins.
We talk about when we first met, balancing our red-haired babies on our laps by the school swimming pool. I had been under the impression that she went from summer to summer, Apollo Bay to Port Douglas, hopping from one dream to another as she raised her little boys in a love bubble. That’s what it looked like to me.
Actually, she and her partner were working all hours in various jobs for the experience, the fun and adventure of it, making ends meet and living life to the full. Her kids went along for the ride. Actually, her partner was at the helm of his boat in the harbour in Port Douglas when Steve Irwin set sail for the last time. They waved.
Her first son began school in Port Douglas. It wasn’t easy because they were new to town and he was catching the bus alone. On the way home, he had got off the bus a stop too early and walked home leaving Trish in bits at the right stop. She went home and there he was. In his bag she had found a large live crab and had panicked that he must have been bullied on the walk home. After a couple of weeks she saw crabs side-stepping into his bag from the garden.
She and I talk about the menial jobs we did when we were younger. We had both worked in Old People’s homes, she at 15 for work experience, so very young and me at 24 when I thought that my life wasn’t quite bad enough! I told her that I am still haunted by a mistake I made when I put an old lady on the loo at 9pm, clocked off my shift and forgot to mention it to the new nurses. They didn’t find her til 3am when they were checking beds. The old lady had a very, very short memory, of about 3 seconds, so that would have got her through, but I still stress about it twenty-two years later.
Trish and I are glad our Dad’s never qualified for those homes.
Not long ago she shared, on Facebook, the note that her Dad left her when she was moving out of home venturing ‘out of the nest to face the cruel world.’
He tells her to work hard and ‘Go Bayers’ footy team. He says ‘I know you will be a great success and always remain the lovely well adjusted girl you are now.’
We spent a lovely hour talking. We covered the Otways, the hills where we live, and how they shape our children’s development. We talked about the mad keen fishermen in our families and we agreed to get together to drop a line in from their boat, soon. We talked about the joy and pain of living in a small town, the yin and the yang.
We talked about EVERYTHING but I can’t tell you it all. Some of it was secret, some unpublishable and some just too personal, but I will tell you she works hard, she’s a success, she’s lovely, she’s well adjusted and there are some people in this world who just radiate light, and she is one of them.
Here is a picture on Instagram that her family thought was of her. It isn’t, but it might as well be. So here we go, this is not Trish.