Sunday, April 8, 2012
Easter Is A Mixed Bag Here......
The Easter Period at the Palais always finds Princess carrying a mixed bag of emotions. It has nothing to do with the Christian Calendar. I am not conflicted by my faith... It has nothing to do with the whole commercialisation of Easter and the sugar and chocolate overload that seems to accompany it. Along with the endless cry’s of “Oh I’ve put on so much weight after all that chocolate!” Well here’s a hint... “Don’t eat so much of it stupid!”
It has nothing to do with the continued perpetration of propaganda regarding a big white chocolate egg laying rabbit. Think about it people! Really?
It is not the fact that people get to take a well earned... or otherwise... break from their regular daily lives to often drive long distances for just a few days of mini madness that we know as “The Easter Holiday”. Nor is it the fact that Easter and its celebrations occur at different dates annually due to it being aligned with the lunar calendar cycle. No... It is none of that.
It is because despite whenever Easter occurs on the calendar every Easter for the past twenty-four years, I remember quite vividly what it was like for a family spending an Easter waiting for what seemed like an eternity to bury a Husband, Son, Brother, Cousin, Nephew, Uncle, Life long Friend, Neighbour, Workmate and Father.
From about the time that I turned 9 years of age my Father had battled on and off with episodes of major depression. Several times over the years he required hospitalisation. When he first got ill, he and mum already had the three of us kids. There was myself, my younger brother and an even younger sister. Our little brother arrived some years later. And there was the Empress, one day being the dutiful housewife and mother with three children to rear then suddenly having a husband with a debilitating illness, off work and hospitalised almost overnight.
Some might have walked away from the situation but not the Empress. After all, this was in the sixties and women once married were expected to give up their career and stay at home and raise a family.
My mother has always been a very capable woman. Prior to her marriage to my father, she owned and operated two hairdressing salons which employed several staff between them. But when faced with the sudden adversity of a very ill husband and no immediate prospects of him returning to work what did she do? She opened another hairdressing salon and returned to the workforce as a means of survival.
My father eventually got well enough to return to a new job, but his depression continued to grumble along... even then Mum continued in the salon. There were many ups and downs in the years in between. Changes in location, small business enterprises that flew then over time failed resulting in changes in careers for both Dad and Mum. There would be the occasional bouts of depression that would return requiring another stay in hospital but then Dad would improve and get back into life again, coaching the local junior football team, getting involved with my brother and I in our scouting exploits, renovating houses, fixing up cars all manner of projects would get back underway as he improved.
When he was well he was great fun to be around. He had a terrific sense of humour and was always the life of the party... And believe me growing up we had many, many parties. It was during the six years prior to my father’s sudden death that we all really got to see him as the fun loving, genuine caring and practical man that he was. He was very proud of his kids and their achievements... and a man that was very deeply in love with the Empress.
For several weeks prior to Easter my father seemed to become more withdrawn. He would come home from work and just sit chain smoking in the corner of the lounge room. He was like the “old dad” from my childhood when he had been depressed.
The Empress was concerned enough about the changes in him to encourage him to re book an appointment with his doctor.
The night prior to his death, my father, never one to often speak his emotions openly, sat us down as a family and told us all how much he loved us. How he felt that his depression was getting a hold of him again and that he feared that he would end up back in hospital and didn’t want to put any of us through that experience again.
In hindsight he was saying his goodbyes.
Early the next morning, while the Empress and my youngest brother were still in the house readying themselves for work and school, my father went to the wardrobe in the bedroom removed the .22 rifle that had always been kept there for years without further thought, loaded it and shot himself.
My Fathers suicide shocked us all. And we all still bear the impact of it in our lives today. At the time our worlds spiralled into chaos. The experience was for me initially numbing and caused me to question my own career choice as at the time as I was about to graduate as a psychiatric nurse.
I can’t speak to the personal emotions experienced by my siblings or for that matter the Empress as our reactions were all very different other than our outward expressions of shock, grief and profound loss. Our relationships with each other changed in subtle and intangible ways from that moment on. It was the Wednesday before Easter and as a consequence Easter has never been quite the same for any of us since...
It gets easier with time as it passes.... But it's just not the same...