Things that ‘normal families’ do on weekends: go for long walks on the beach, play sport, go for bike rides.
Things that families with different kids do on weekends: go and be the test-patient in the doctors’ exams, prepare for transfusions, go and give thank-you talks at the blood bank, get interviewed and photographed for articles in the paper about the need for blood donations.
We have never been for a bush walk.
One of our kids is seven years old, and we have only just taken the pram out of the back of the car, because we never know when we might have to use it, when her little legs will seem to run out of oxygen, and she will need to be helped along for a while. Seven is too old to be in a pram- I know this because a lady once told me when we were at the shopping centre, so I didn’t take the pram so much after that, preferring to use a shopping trolley instead, regardless of whether or not I had any groceries.
This seven year old kid is also a strong-willed little thing, which means she wants to do the things that the other kids do. She wants to walk to the park, walk to the ferry stop, walk along the boardwalk. It’s just that sometimes she can’t. When she was little it wasn’t much of a problem if she couldn’t make it, as I was able to carry her. I did it so often my left arm is much bigger than my right, with bulging biceps and triceps. (Shame it didn’t help the tuckshop arms.)
When we went to Bali, all of the Wayans said that I was like a Balinese mother, carrying my child until she was grown up. I didn’t tell them it wasn’t by choice. I was a baby-wearer by default.
Sometimes in my weaker moments I wondered what would happen once she was too big for me to carry. Would we get a wheelchair, a motorised scooter, or would we just stay home?
This weekend was different.
This weekend we braved a bushwalk to Kondalilla Falls. We thought we would just go down to the rock pools at the little falls and that would be it, but the children wanted to go ‘all the way around’. We looked at each other nervously, and decided to give it a go. There were times when I thought she wouldn’t make it, and times when I thought her wobbly legs would make her trip, and fall over the edge of the path to some unknown.
She surprised me with her stamina and her tenacity, and it gave me an opportunity to talk to the kids about effort and resilience and about staying the course, even if things get tough. Most gratifying of all, I got to use the words of my gorgeous friend Sam Naudin, who embodied the spirit of all we were discussing: Never, never give up.
Sam would have loved this walk, this discussion, this life that we are so lucky to have before us for the grabbing. She loved a bit of “huff and puff” as she called it.
I like to think she whispered in Coco’s ear a couple of times, to help her keep on going.
It would have been just like her.
I think of you often. Coco said she wants to the National Park walk out to “Sam’s Gates” next.
…From The Ashers xx