PostHeaderIcon The Visit


It was not the huge success that I had aimed for. Definitely not. I was comforted by the fact that I had tried so hard and had endeavoured beyond my energies at the time to bring about a great outcome. I had failed, but it was not my fault.

I knew it would not be easy to accomodate my ex-husband for some five days over the Christmas period. He was desperately lonely, still grieving over the loss of his partner of twenty years who had died a year or more ago. My daughters did not know what to do with him. They all had their own agendas for the holidays; the children had to be considered after all. And we all knew he was difficult and boring. Oh yes...

I was confident in my ability to cope with him as a guest. During a recent battle with cancer, that had involved a six-week stay in Brisbane for a radiation course, I had accepted his invitation to stay with him. He could do with the company, he told Caroline. Out of kindness more than anything, and a willingness to heal breaches, I stayed for two nights and was treated well. The food was good, for he is an adequate cook, and the spare bed caught a pleasant breeze on those hot, sultry nights. I was quite comfortable. I was feeling the fatigue that is involved with radiation treatment, and asked nothing more than to be left alone to rest. I had no complaints at all and thanked him sincerely and well. He had done his best to make me feel welcome.

So I looked forward to his visit and prepared for the stay despite my flagging energy levels. I was suffering somewhat both physically and psychologically, as can be imagined. But I had long known that when one feels a bit sorry for oneself, the best cure is to help another. He was younger than I, but really not as sprightly as I was at 83, and I determined to make his stay a memorable and happy one.

Daughter Susan who lived in the next street on acreage was having a musical evening of carol singing and vaudeville acts at which I was to play the piano, as usual. We brought forward his visit so that he might enjoy, as we knew he would, the evening of song. It was a great success with lots of laughter and fun. He had a great time.

I arranged a card game of six-handed ‘500’, his favourite. I conscripted six reasonably good players, and put on lunch for all at my home. Again he enjoyed it immensely. I took him on a drive around the mountain, ostensibly to buy avocadoes. He always likes to take some home. We had purchased several each at one venue, and were driving past another when we decided to have a look at the wares. I had bought mine and had put my money in the tin. He was about to put $5 in the slot, when the male owner appeared. ‘G’day Doreen,’ he began, ‘How are you?’ It was an old friend who had once commissioned me to paint a picture of his family home, an old Queenslander on the Logan.

We chatted away and I asked if he had a copy of my latest book, Sex in Your Seventies. He didn’t, but would like to buy one. Did I have a copy on me?
‘I have one in the car, Les, but it’s Christmas, and will be a gift...for old times’ sake.’ I proceeded to the car and returned with a signed copy, which he most happily accepted. He would not allow Colin to put his money in and loaded up his bag with more avocadoes, cucumbers and chokos. Then more avocadoes, more of whatever we wanted. Our large grocery bags were filled to overflowing. Then he wanted me to see his dahlias, which were indeed splendid. He helped us into the car with our produce, as rain was threatening.
‘Well...we certainly got a good haul there,’ my ex-husband remarked gleefully when I resumed the road home. He loved it, and put in his car all the chokos and cucumbers and the greater part of the avocadoes. There was no need to buy anything to take home with him. What a day!

So I can be forgiven for thinking I had given him a good few days. I had put heat packs on his troublesome shoulders, and ensconced him in my vibrating ‘Niagara’ chair, which he loved. He was not able to help me in any way, due to his painful shoulders and knees, save to take the household rubbish out to the garbage bin. I dug the compost into the garden, picked the beans and ran the messages, as well as cooking good meals and waiting on table. It was all my pleasure to do so.

Then Caroline, Scott and daughter Holly arrived for Christmas tea. I had served a good hearty breakfast, a good hot dinner at midday, and had baked two chickens and a ham to take to daughter Susan’s that night. Some two metres away from me in the living room, Caroline asked jauntily, knowing we had had an interesting and full few days, ‘Well, Dad, how have you enjoyed your stay with Mum?’ She obviously presumed he would have a positive response, but he, not realising I was witnessing the episode, turned the corners of his mouth down, and replied sadly, ‘Aw...all right...’ I was aghast.
I shrieked, ‘What did he say?’ Caroline was shocked because I had been telling her what a good time I had given him.
‘Yes, Dad, what do you mean?’ He realised I expected his response to be different.
‘,’ he insisted as he came over to me, ‘it has been...quite nice really...’ I was still as hurt and bewildered. To me, ‘quite nice’ is an insult. Always has been. To say I was taken aback is to put it mildly. But we had a party to attend, and I said no more. Neither did he. But I was not my usual chirpy self. Neither was I the next day, and he knew I was miffed. At every opportunity, he remarked loudly what a great hostess I was, how welcome I had made him etc, etc. But all it made me do was want to hit him! I remained pleasant, but not effusive. When he left he kissed me on the cheek and thanked me for a lovely time. I remained passive, saying, ‘You are welcome...’ I suppose I was dignified, that’s all.

And now I must get my morale in good shape again. Another task. My exuberance has taken a beating. I need good company, someone who is positive, who does not whinge about everything...the world, the economy, the family, religion, immigrants, the weather, bloody kids, his health, his loneliness...spare me! For a Pollyanna like myself, it was all a bit much.