Saturday, May 09, 2015

A young death

Ann was about 15 and I was the same age. It was she who was told to not talk to boys through the cyclone wire fence at school as she would become pregnant. We were neighbours in a modest Gippsland country town. Her mother worked at an upmarket dress shop. The owner was a glam woman who each morning teased her hair into a very high style, wore the latest of suit fashions and would never been seen out without heels on her feet. Once I and the local paper boy Ricky called on her at home when she did not go to work and stayed at home unwell. Her hair was down, she was in very ordinary clothes and we could see she was unwell. Maybe we took her flowers? I can't recall. She loved us for visiting her, but I was really thrown by seeing her 'out of costume'. Oddly, my rather common father did some building work for her and she found his common ways quite charming. I kept in touch with her for a time. She later worked at the Windsor telephone exchange for a time before taking over a milk bar in Fitzroy. I visited her there once, so long ago. She was ironing her husband's clothes when I visited and we chatted away.

Back to Ann. Her mother's name was Phylis. Each Friday night Ann and myself would visit Phyl in the dress shop on the late night shopping night and walk home with her after closing time and the shop was locked up. Now the memory is problematic. Shops shut on Friday night at 9pm, but we back at their home by 8.30 pm to watch Columbo. Phyl must have already prepared and eaten dinner as her husband Norm's dinner was keeping warm in the oven.

Phyl, Ann and myself would be watching Columbo on tv. Phyl will have opened a bottle a beer. As the bottle emptied, her posh voice would mellow and she began to slur her words. She was a good Catholic woman who drank and smoked and confessed her sins at mass on Sunday.

Her husband Norm, after eating his evening meal from the warm oven once he returned from the pub would come into the lounge room and observe the lounge room situation. His wife was by now quite tipsy and his daughter and the neighbour lad, myself, contentedly watching tv.

He stood and swayed back and forth as he took in the situation, his thought processes slowed by alcohol. "Do you want something Norm?" Phyl would ask. With a loud harumph, he proclaimed, "No nonse (nonsense) then", and went to bed, followed by Phyl, saying, thank god for that. It was a loveless marriage and they led their own separate lives.

Good times they were. By the age of sixteen Ann was bald from chemotherapy for brain cancer treatment at the Peter MacCallum cancer hospital.

By the age of 17, she was dead.

24 comments:

  1. Andrew so sad story. But my cousin Jack suferred from liver cancer and died at the age of 5.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Gosia, that is so awful, as are all child deaths.

      Delete
  2. Andrew that is such a sad story. I wonder what made you think about it so many years later.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Fun60, I've no idea why I began to write about it a couple of weeks ago. Something must have prompted it.

      Delete
  3. Very sad that Ann died so young, but you have lovely memories of time spent with her and her family.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. River, we did have some good fun.

      Delete
  4. Sad memories never leave you...they just hide in the wings

    ReplyDelete
  5. I too am wondering what triggered this post. Good memories, sad memories. A perfect encapsulation of life.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. EC, it really is what life is all about.

      Delete
  6. Sombre, sad thoughts, but part of being human is remembering... the good and the bad/sad. Thank you for sharing Ann (and her family) with us, so we can remember her through your words.
    Those we love, by whatever name we call our love, make us who we are.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Jac. I am better for having known her and her family. I just remembered something I had not thought about. She had an older brother who I now know with some maturity, that he was gay.

      Delete
  7. Wow, I can picture that whole scene, you described the people and circumstance and how they talked and looked so well. It's tragic when kids die. Seems like they should at least get a chance.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Strayer, I did hope to paint a word picture. Thanks. Yes, give them a chance to screw things up just like we adults do.

      Delete
  8. Interesting memories but sad regarding Ann. Strange how some people change their colours when alcohol is taken..

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. WA, what are you saying? Who's been talking? It's not true. They are lying.

      Delete
    2. :) no one said anything as yet! :)

      Delete
    3. Initially I was just going to say, WA, watchoo sayin'? But sometime my sense of humour is too subtle or from left of field to be understood so I thought I needed to add to it. I expect you would have got it with the former anyway.

      Delete
  9. I know some people die decades before their time, from disease or stupid accident. But how unfair is that? What did that poor girl do to deserve an early and miserable death? Think of what Ann could have achieved, had she left her Gippsland town and made an adult life for herself with career, family and friends.

    The wastage makes me so mad :(

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hels, pondering what her life might have been is interesting and it is hard to imagine. She seldom took much seriously and was a lot fun to be with. Yes, such a waste, yet others waste there early lives with deliberate intention.

      Delete
  10. Love hearing these stories. Sad that Ann's life was cut so short.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It was Fen. I really do now wonder how she would have turned out.

      Delete
  11. There's something very wrong about young people dying many years before they've had a chance to fulfill their hopes and dreams, yet it still keeps happening, so sad.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Grace, many loved Ann yet she died. Many young people die who don't have love. I mean teen suicide, so horrible and how have we mature people failed them?

      Delete