My younger sister ran up to me in the yard, tears running down her cheeks. "It's mum .. come quick" she pleaded. I ran inside and there was mum spread out on the bed, pills and empty tablet bottles all around her. I just stood there stareing in her rolled up blue eyes not knowing what to do next. This was the mid-sixties and i was just a kid neive to such things.
I ran into the hallway, picked up the telephone reciever and dialed 000. I went back and just held her hand till the ambulance men came and took her away. A few days later mum came home as bright and happy as ever. This is my first memory of a suicide attempt. Many were to follow.
My mother is a character and a half. Raised wealthy in one of the city of churches finest suburbs she had a brief stint acting on the stage and to this day is proud to "do the splits" for ya if you ask. She can still play the mandolin and wears a bikini while gardening much to the amazement of my quiet conservative english wife. If you're ever driving through an Adelaide suburb and see a bosomy 70 year old out gardening in her polka dot bikini, king james bible at her side you've found my dear old mum lol. Mum has a formal approach to fun and one day she took me aside from a family gathering, explained that she didn't laugh much growing up and had no sense of humour so could i please explain what we were all laughing about? lol funny woman.
Dad on the otherhand was the mystic jokerman of the tribe, a real bushman born and raised in the South Australian outback with dirt for a floor and hessian wheat bags the only thing blocking sun, wind and rain entering the windows. He taught me to hunt, fish and live off the land and grow just about anything from seed. He could shoot a rifle and throw a blade better than most and had a good dose of arse about him. (having arse means you can take on immpossible odds and win .. there's something that defies science and logic about it, you just have to be there when the mood is right .. like my mate throwing a bulls eye in darts and daring me to "beat that!" and me getting my dander up and throwing my next dart in the end of his .. you'll only see tricks like that once in yer life)
They were a fine example of the theory "opposites attract". Her a shapely blonde city girl and him a tough dark bushman. ("bushman" is not a title granted or taken lightly in australia) They quarrelled a lot, blood flowed and i hated my father hitting mum,. Her comforting me by saying things like "but i deserved it lee" just made me madder inside and I determined never to raise my hand to a woman.
Mums family are introverted city snobs. Dads couldn't be more opposite. They laugh very easily and would give a stranger their shirt if he asked. (my country cousins would more than likely make it interesting by saying something like: "let's fight for it")
Mum and Dad became baptised JW's in 1968 and the big fights stopped. In may 1975 I woke to mum screaming for me in midddle of the night. Running into the bedroom, there dad lay convulsing on the bed mum going spare. I yelled dial 000. Mum left the room and I tried to work out what was wrong. I put my head to his chest and he had a strong hearbeat. I was a 17 year old in a delema. This wasn't a heart attack and he was breathing .. I started crying, shook him and yelled "don't die dad" his eyes briefly unrolled and stared into mine for the last time, he began voming god knows what .. the ambulancemen came and took him away. He was dead. I cried in my room nonstop for three days. I loved that man.
For three days before he died we hadn't spoken. I was being a teenage prick and even seriously wished him dead. (something I carry the guilts about still)
It was a big funeral and I saw my uncles and cousins for the first time in years. The tension in the Hall was incredible. There sat Grandma the family matriach surrounded by her adoring sons and nephews. Very big men more prone to settling things with thier fists than trifling with words and here at the funeral the speaker chided them with remarks like "well Stan couldn't get you here when he was alive but now he's done it" If it wasn't for my uncles respect for dad they would have torn the Hall apart and PO Hubert Cliff might have ended up in a box of his own.
After the service was over they brushed any witnnesses away from the coffin and proudly bore it on thier shoulders down the length of the packed Kingdom Hall, when they got to me they stopped. Uncle Wilf grabbed me and, almost lifting me out of the chair, ordered a cousin aside and put me at the front of the coffin. Us pall bearers then continued out to the waiting hearse. (my family runs on theatrics but it made me feel important and part of a greater whole .. It wouldn't be the first time old uncle Wilf lifted me up when i was down .. family, blood thicker than water and unconditional love were things as yet almost unknown to me and the cousins in all seriousness telling me that i should now take on the mantle of family jokerman was weird. lol)
Oh dear I've drifted away from suicide a bit but that's the background to what i have to say tommorrow in part2. No you all go off and don't do anything silly.
unclebruce aka Lee.