As Dorothy’s behaviour became increasingly unpredictable, living together was becoming difficult, but possible – until after an unexpected fall within a couple of metres of me as she followed me from our bedroom. I heard the thud and wheeled around to find her in a heap on the floor, totally unconscious! She wouldn’t, indeed couldn’t, respond to my entreaties to wake up and an enormous lump on her forehead was swelling before my eyes, where she’d hit her head on the doorframe on the way down. I had to call for an ambulance, again; not the first and, as I discovered, there were to be a few more over the ensuing months.
We had both been in really good physical health all our married life. While I was the breadwinner and progressed along the managerial road with a large international food company, Dorothy was the real homemaker who nurtured our children and fully participated in school and Church affairs and activities, as well as maintaining friendships with her old school and work friends. She was tireless!
Back in those early days of our marriage (gosh, that’s well over sixty years!) and with some help from my friends, I had designed and owner-built a modest three-bedroom home on a residential block in an unmade road which at that time had only four other houses. Not too far out of Melbourne, in a newly developing suburban area on the fringe of the city. Yes, water and electricity we had, but no sewer and no phone lines! When Dorothy came home with twin boys as our first-born, it was all hands to the pump to finish the house – plastering and paintwork, and some paving, especially a path to the outside thunderbox toilet! The years rolled by, more work responsibility for me and a second job to keep the pot boiling, more children and a bigger house needed!
Dorothy was a superb mother and homemaker and a loving, caring wife. Fully engaged with her ‘Young Wives Group’ and playing a fortnightly ‘hit and giggle’ social tennis with a group of friends. As well as often managing to help others we knew with their domestic problems, she somehow managed to keep us well-fed, well clothed, and happy. Dorothy’s parents lived in country Victoria and we all enjoyed visiting them as often as possible. Our kids just loved the farm, the animals and the fruit grown on the property but, of course, the four-hour car journey was the least-loved aspect by us all! But once there, we all enjoyed the time, and developed a strong bond with her country-based family.
Myself as an only child whose mother died when I was fourteen, had only my dad, whose job as a Myer delivery truck man, seemed to frequently have ‘deliveries’ (mostly treats for all!). The neighbours (by then) must have thought us spendthrifts! It was only a short journey to visit him, but when he decided to remarry and move interstate or visits were less frequent, but always full of fun.
As our children grew, they progressed through the normal hurts and falls, they crawled, walked, and ran, explored other half-built homes, and played in the mud! They all rode bikes, too, and suffered the usual range of bumps, scratches, cuts, and bone cracks as they grew towards being big kids! Dorothy’s early fitness routine included pushing a twin pram up and down those unmade streets to do the weekly shopping! Way back then, her behaviour and health were never in doubt, and her energy limitless, as was our love as we ‘grew’ our family…..